Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Visit to Mount Nemrut.


The chickens weren't up yet. Too early even for the call to prayer to be sound out but Bro and I were wide awake at 3a!

Waiting inside the teashouse.
Before coming to Turkey, I had reached out to the tour company to find out what we needed in terms of warm clothing, for Mount Nemrut. The reply I got back was that a sweatshirt or light jacket should suffice. But my good friend, Ayşe, who is Turkish and who has been to Mount Nemrut, recommended we take warm clothing. We opted to go the layering route instead and I told Bro to put on as many layers as he could. For me, that meant a short sleeve t-shirt underneath a long sleeve t-sheet, underneath my thick denim shirt, underneath my thick fleece jacket and my windbreaker to top it all off. I wore my jeans as they are the thickest weight pants I had with me and I swapped out my sandals for my hiking sandals and socks. If I had any concern that I was overdressed, that was all erased when we saw the others - pretty much everyone else had brought a winter jacket with them.

It took about an hour and a half of driving before we stopped. It was dark and I couldn't make out what the landscape, around us looked like. As I got out of the van, I felt the cold wind blowing on my face. The rest of me though was perfectly warm. Hopefully, I have enough layers on.


We walked up some steps and entered inside a small teahouse. I think everyone was still half asleep so when the owner came by to take order for tea, only a few people spoke up. The same guide tried to sell us a small guidebook for Mount Nemrut as well as souvenirs but no one was interested. I was just curious why we were here. As it turns out, it was a matter of timing. It's about a 25 minute walk/hike up to the summit of Mount Nemrut and you don't want to get there too early otherwise, you'll be standing in the cold, dark of early morning waiting for the sun to rise. Better to wait a few extra minutes in the teahouse. Good idea.

It was still dark when Denis called on us to head out.  It was still pitch black dark.  Luckily, several of us had brought along flashlights so we could light our way up the steps that would take us to the top.  The steps were a bit uneven at times and slick from dew so I tread carefully, staying at the back of the pack.  I decided to walk alongside Chuck who at 74 is a bit frail physically but very determined mentally. One of the other guys (he's Spanish but I don't know his name) in the group accompanied Chuck's friend, Doug (?) who is the same age as Chuck but recently had had heart bypass surgery.  I hope that when I get to be old and frail, that a stranger will look after me as we did Chuck and Doug.

The wind was whipping up something fierce but with all the physical activity, I wasn't cold.  I had brought a scarf along for covering my head when we visit mosques.  I decided to wrap it around my neck for extra warmth and I'm glad I did!

By the time we reached the summit, it was still dark but you could make out the faint light of day.  We could also see the fallen heads of the statues at Mt. Nemrut. 

Sunrise.

While I could take photos of the sunrise, if my held my camera perfectly still, the same was not true of the heads.  It was just too dark and so I had to patiently wait until there was enough light.  As the day of light appeared, the statues began to reveal themselves.  What a sight!  Exactly as in all the countless images that I had seen in preparing for this trip....except this was with my own eyes.  So amazing!  Once there was good light for taking photos,  there was no stopping my finger from hitting the shutter! :-)  Poor Bro.  As usual, he had to endure being the foreground subject of all my shots.

We started our visit on the Eastern Terrace.  Here are a few of the photos I took.




Heads of Apollo, Zeus, a Persian eagle and a lion.

Head of a lion.

Bodies of the statues, sitting on thrones, near the summit of the mountain.

I am thrilled beyond belief and so grateful that I had the opportunity to be here!

A chain link rope kept us back from the statues but fortunately, we were still close enough to get a good look at them. I had seen photos of people standing next to the statues but I'm guessing that's all in the past. Makes sense to protect these heritage treasures from damage be it deliberate or inadvertent.

A wooden pathway connected the Eastern Terrace with the Western Terrace.


We basically walked around to the other side of the mountain.

On the pathway connecting the Eastern and Western Terraces.

View of Mount Nemrut as taken along the pathway connecting the Eastern and Western Terraces.

Going around the mountain.

There were many more fallen heads on the Western Terraces but no signs of the bodies that they were once attached to.


Apollo and a Persian Eagle.

Bro with Apollo and Tyche.

Apollo.

Tyche, goddess of Commagene.

Me and Hercules.  Doesn't quite look like the hunky Greek god known for his strength.

Antiochus I Theos, King of the Commagene Kingdom.

Zeus.

Another view of the fallen heads on the Western Terrace.

I took this photo because there were inscriptions on the rocks.  Unfortunately, you can't see them very well in the photo.

Stelae.  The one of the left is the stelae of Xerxes I.

Stele of Darius I.

Don't know who this stelae belongs to.

More stelae and animal statues.
An eagle and a lion.

All toll, we were at Mount Nemrut for a little over an hour.  In contrast to walking up uneven steps, in the dark, the walk back down to the teahouse was a breeze.  Nice concrete steps and plenty of light to see by.  The wind had long died down and even though it was still a bit chilly, it was a far more comfortable walk.


I could finally see the landscape as well.  It was craggy and arid.  We're pretty high up in elevation.  No wonder it was so chilly.

Sign pointing the way.  No need if you're hiking up in the dark :-)

Back at the teahouse, Denis gave us opportunity to warm up and for those who wanted, to have a cup of tea or to buy some souvenirs.  I only needed to use the facilities.

The view from the teashop's balcony.

The teahouse is the building on the left, door is just under the blue colored banner.

It was shortly after 7a when we left Mount Nemrut.  According to Denis's schedule, we still have a couple of places to visit before we head back to the hotel for breakfast.  So excited to continue with the rest of today!