Day 32 (1): a visit to the Gods
Karadut Travel Blog› entry 44 of 260 › view all entries
May 7th, 2010 – by: Biedjee
And even though my hotel in Kahta was possibly the worst place I have ever stayed at, it was worth it for the efficiency.
Anyhoo, Nemrut Da─či, one of the most famous and magical places in Turkey, even though it was only 'discovered' some 130 years ago when a German archeaologist climbed the peak and stumbled across a burial site with huge rock statues. The 2150m peak is the highest in the region but the actual mountain is only 2100m high. At the top a 50m artificial peak has been created as a sort of tomb for some pre-Roman king, Antiochus I Epiphanes. On both sides of the peak, facing east and west, a series of statues have been erected. The statues represent the Greek Gods Apollo, Helios, Fortuna, Zeus, Heracles and Antiochus himself, who viewed himself as equal with the gods.
Although earth-quakes have toppled the heads from the statues, it is still a very impressive place.
I thought we would be climbing to the summit of the mountain, but in fact we drove up to a car park, complete with souvenir shop, caf├ę and toilets at 2000m, and we only had the last 100m to climb (which took about 15 minutes). Damn, I so needed the exercise.
Apart from the three Egyptian girls who travelled on the same tour as I did, there was another large tour group making their way up the path. Couldn't exactly make our where they came from, I think they were Turkish though. Whatever they were, they were a loud bunch.
I was the first to arrive at the top and for about 10 minutes I had the place all to myself.
When I arrived at the top it was still before sunrise, though a little streak of orange was already forming on the horizon. I wandered around a little bit and admire the statues in the early light of dawn. Though the heads lay toppled from the statues, the 5 metre high statues themselves were pretty much intact. It is quite impressive how someone could have created this over 2000 years ago. Especially when bearing in mind that the stones used for the statues are not taken from the mountain itself.
The sunrise was quite a beauty. Well worth getting up early for.
Once the sun was up we walked around the artificial summit to have a look at the statues on the Western side. Here the statues are exactly the same, in the same order, though the bodies have all but disappeared but the heads are in much better nick than on the eastern side. Probably due to the weather conditions.
Back down we had a quick coffee break and then went back towards Kahta - the long way. The road up the mountain had been a surprisingly good and comfortable road, but on the way back we were taking an alternative route down via mostly steep unpaved roads snaking down the mount through tiny villages.
We stopped at Ersi Kali, or Arsameia. This is the site of the ancient capital of the short-lived Commagene kingdom (of which Antiochus I Epiphanes, the guy who ordered the statues on Nemrut Da─či, was king). The site lies at a very steep side of the mountain and it makes you wonder how they ever built a city up here. However they did it, there isn't much left. All ruins of houses and temples have long since been demolished and its stones used to build a nearby fortress. However, there are a few stellae, depicting various Gods, and some of these are in exceptional good condition. One of these is a virtually undamaged stone relief of King Mithrandes I shaking hands with the god Heracles. It is amazing to find such a mint piece on a hillside in the middle of nowhere.
Next stop was a beautiful old Sel├žuk bridge in a canyon, with a striking 13th century Mamulk fortress nested in the canyon behind it. Once again, very picturesque and it makes you wonder just how did they get the building up there? (and why?).
The sel├žuk bridge had been nice and interesting, but the real highlight is an almost intact Roman humback bridge over the Cendere river. Not only does it remain almost in its original state after 2000 years, it also remained in use for most of those 2000 years until a new modern road road bridge was constructed next to it in 1973.
Once again proof that those Romans were pretty good at building indeed.
We arrived back in Kahta I hadn't really made my mind up yet on where to go next.
So I decided to travel to Urfa on my own devices. Even if this would mean missing out on some sights in the surroundings of Urfa (buses after all don't stop for tourist sights). Anything better than going with him. When I told him he got quite cross with me, almost aggressive. Why would I not want to go with him, he made good price, petrol is expensive in Turkey, I should not compare with other countries, compared to Holland the tour is still cheap, etc etc etc.
I explained to him that I didn't want to go with him because his tours are just very bad value for money. Had this morning's ÔÇťtourÔÇŁ included the entrance fee to the national park, or something like a breakfast, or had the 'guide' been able to say a little bit more than ÔÇťon left: bridgeÔÇŁ then it would have been a tour proper.
Obviously it was all the fault of the guy who had checked me in yesterday, he runs the tours. The guy who had offered me the 'tour' to Urfa just runs the pension and did some tours on the side. Blah blah blah. I reckoned it was best not to tell him how much I had hated his dirty pension. I just wanted to get away from this place and find a bus. Preferably one to Urfa, but otherwise Diyarbak─▒r would suit me just fine.
To his defence, he did listen to me and attempted to understand my reasoning, although whatever I said resulted in a flood of excuses. He no longer tried to sell me his tours though and offered me a lift to the otogar instead. Well, at least that was nice of him.
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!