A Guide To Visiting Mount Nemrut, Turkey

On the tallest peak of the Eastern Taurus mountain range, high above the Euphrates River, sits an incredible feat of engineering. An ancient tomb and funerary mound marked by huge stone statues dating back to the 1st Century BC.

The iconic head statues of Nemrut Daği perhaps need no introduction as they are a real gem of eastern Turkey and a popular ancient ruin in Turkey to visit. This eerie ruin is a must for any eastern Turkey itinerary and in my opinion any trip to Turkey.

This is a complete travel guide to exploring the mesmerising Mount Nemrut in Adiyaman. I describe what you can expect on your visit, where to stay and how to get there.

A History Of Nemrut Dagi

Nemrut Daği (Turkish for Mount Nemrut) is a peak in the Eastern Taurus range. The summit of this peak has been built into a pyramidal peak (burial mound) through the placement of smaller stones and rocks. Around the peak sits a series of stone statues that are around eight to nine meters tall.

The statues were constructed in 62 BC for King Antiochus Theos of Commagene, who was an important Armenian King.

There are two sets of statues, one set on the west terrace and another set on the east terrace. The seated statues consist of Grecco-Persian gods – Zeus, Hercules, Apollo, Commagene – and the king himself. At either side of the gods sit lion and eagle guardian statues.

On the north and south side of the mound there are broken reliefs of Antiochus’s ancestors. The man-made mound is thought to be a burial mound in which Antiochus’ tomb is concealed. However, despite extensive archaeological work the tomb has never been found.

The technology that must have been used to construct Mount Nemrut is unlike anything else found during the Hellenistic period and an incredible feat of engineering. Quite how the statues lost their head is often debated with some citing natural events such as earthquakes and strong winds. However, the fact that many heads are missing their noses points more towards iconoclasm by early Christians or Muslims.

The site was originally excavated in 1881 and was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.

Nemrut Dagi: What To Expect At The Site

First of all visitors should be warned that the summit Mount Nemrut is 2134 meters high. This means that if you’re not used to altitude, then you might find the 600m hike from the car park to the site a little challenging. There are several benches along the path to allow for breaks to catch your breath.

Secondly, because of the altitude, the mountain can get very cold, even if it’s warm where you are staying. If you’re visiting at sunrise or sunset in particular, be sure to bring warm layers.

The statues on the East Terrace are the most complete and this is arguably the best place to watch sunrise. The statues on the West Terrace are less complete and more scattered, but the heads themselves are better preserved. The West terrace is the better place to watch sunset.

Most people visit at sunrise and therefore this is the most popular time of day to see Mount Nemrut.

Nemrut Daği is based in Nemrut National Park for which there is an entrance fee of 25 TRY.

How To Get To Mount Nemrut

Mount Nemrut is located 13km north of Karadut, which is the closest town to the mountain. The biggest major city to Mount Nemrut is Adıyaman, which also has an airport. Domestic flights to Adıyaman are available from the major airport hubs in Turkey such as Istanbul and Ankara.

Adiyaman to Nemrut Dagi

From Adiyaman there are several options to reach Mount Nemrut. If staying in Adiyaman, your accommodation may offer a shuttle service which would be the most convenient option. If staying Karadut, your accommodation may offer a transfer from the airport and a shuttle/tour to Mount Nemrut.

From Karadut it’s also possible to take a taxi or hitchhike up to the statues. Staying in Karadut means you don’t have to get up so early to catch that sunrise!

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