Mount Nemrut

Mount Nemrut is a place where you can see both eastern and western values, in addition to various cultural traces in it. The king of that time who built the area, Antiochus I., wanted to build a place just like this: gorgeous, mysterious, and culturally diverse. It can be said that he accomplished his goal, and the area he built is now among UNESCO’s world heritage list and attracts an endless number of visitors each year.

It is an area that is quite well-preserved according to its age. The structures include statues, monuments, graveyards, and tumuli. In addition to its historical and architectural value, this place contains legends to tell you.

Mount Nemrut is 2 thousand and 150 meters long, and the statues around Mount Nemrut are up to 10 meters long. The reason why the statues are well-preserved to this day is the material used. Mount Nemrut’s statues were made from limestone blocks.

Visiting Mount Nemrut

Mount Nemrut is an area that is one hundred percent worth your time and effort to get there

You can both see historical artifacts and learn about the history and enjoy the incredible view of Mount Nemrut.

Where is Mount Nemrut located on the map of Turkey?

Mount Nemrut is located in the Kahta district of Adiyaman province which is located in the Southeast Anatolian region of Turkey.

Mount Nemrut is in the Northeast part of Adiyaman. Adiyaman is surrounded by Sanliurfa, Gaziantep, Kahramanmaras, Malatya, and Elazig.

How do you get to Mount Nemrut?

You can get to Adiyaman by car, by bus or by plane. The answer for how you get to Adiyaman depends according to your starting point.

Getting to Mount Nemrut from Adıyaman City Center

Mount Nemrut is 68 kilometers away from the airport, and 86 kilometers away from the city center, and the bus station of Adiyaman is in the city center. Adiyaman train station is approximately 1 hour of driving away from the city center.

Once you get to Adiyaman, you can use services that takes you to Mount Nemrut, or you can rent a minibus to take you there. From Adiyaman city center, it will take around one and a half hours to get to Mount Nemrut. From the Adiyaman city center, you need to take long-distance buses that take you to Kahta district. To get to Mount Nemrut from Kahta district, you need to find a service, a tour or you can rent your own minibus. Unfortunately, there are no public transportation options to get to Mount Nemrut from Adiyaman city center.

Getting to Mount Nemrut from Istanbul

The distance between İstanbul and Adıyaman is about 1250km (780 miles) and it will take approximately 15 hours of driving to get to Adiyaman from Istanbul. If you are using the bus to get to Adiyaman, this duration can be up to 19 hours.

You can find direct flights to Adiyaman from Istanbul but except in the wintertime. The duration of the flight is is approximately 100 minutes.  

Getting to Mount Nemrut from Ankara

If your starting point is Ankara, your first option is to use the highway. It will take approximately 7 and a half hours of driving, yet you are getting there with a bus, this duration can be up to 12 hours. You can prefer Kahramanmaras road or Malatya road while you are getting to Adiyaman from Ankara. Malatya road is recommended if you are short on time, but if you have enough time you can choose to get to Adiyaman by directly Adiyaman highway, and this way you can see Artemia ruins on your way.

Additionally, you can prefer to get to Adiyaman from Ankara by plane.

Getting to Mount Nemrut from İzmir

If your starting point is İzmir, the road will take approximately 16 hours of driving. You can prefer to get to Adiyaman by plane.

Getting to Mount Nemrut from Other Major Destinations

In addition to those cities, you can get to Adiyaman from the Cappadocia region, Adana, or Diyarbakir by bus or by car. The following are the distances between those cities and Adiyaman:

  • 332 kilometers away from Adana
  • 205 kilometers away from Diyarbakır
  • 932 kilometers away from Antalya
  • 415 kilometers away from Cappadocia.

Visiting hours of the Mount Nemrut

Visiting hours of Mount Nemrut depends on the wintertime and the summertime. 

In the wintertime, (defined between the dates October 1 and April 1) the Mount Nemrut is open to visitors between 04:00 AM and 08:00 PM. In the summertime, (defined as between the dates April 1 and October 1) the Mount Nemrut is open to visitors between 05:00 AM and 06:30 PM.

You can check up to date visiting hours from here.

Entrance fee of the Mount Nemrut

The entrance fee of the Mount Nemrut is 25 Turkish liras. 

If you have a museum card, you can visit Mount Nemrut for free, two times a year (For Turkish Citizens only). If you are not a Turkish citizen, you can still get a museum pass but its regulations are different. You can click here to learn more about the museum pass.

You can get a museum card from the entrance of Mount Nemrut, and if you are planning to see other museums and historical landmarks, getting a museum card is strongly recommended. But if your plan is just to visit Mount Nemrut, then getting a museum card will cost you more than paying the entrance fee, and will be useless.

How long to spend in Mount Nemrut?

The duration you will spend in Mount Nemrut is totally up to you. Some prefer sitting there all day long with their loved ones, and some prefer just exploring the area and leave. Only seeing the statues and sculptures will not take more than 30 minutes. But since you got a long way to get there, enjoying Mount Nemrut as much as you can is highly recommended.

Climbing to Mount Nemrut

Climbing to Mount Nemrut is a wonderful experience, and your preferred time to climb there influences your experience. 

Since Mount Nemrut is quite high, if you prefer climbing there at sunrise or sunset, you will have a peak experience in your life. Since getting to Mount Nemrut will take around 1 hour from the city center of Adiyaman, start your road trip according to it and try your best to get there on time to watch the sunrise or sunset.

The view is so amazing in sunset and sunrise that, Mount Nemrut sometimes hosts photography events. Even though you are going there to take pictures from your phone, the results will be amazing.

History of Mount Nemrut

Mount Nemrut is in an area that was once referred to as the “Kingdom of Commagene”. This kingdom was formed as a result of Alexander the Great winning a war against Persians.

Mithridates was the heir of this region, so as his independence was declared, the Commagene area has officially become an independent kingdom (about 163 BC).

Map of Kingdom of Commagene (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Commagene Kingdom lived through its brightest period in the time of Antiochus I., who is the son of Mithridates. The reason for that is, Antiochus I. knew very well how to handle and rule this kind of kingdom with peace. The significance of the Kingdom of Commagene was that it was surrounded by the most powerful countries on all four sides of it (Persians, Syria, Armenians, Greeks). In such a small kingdom with such a diverse population in terms of nationality, religion, and culture, a strategy of toleration was a must. Antiochus I. followed the strategy of toleration, all beliefs, nations, and cultures were respected in this kingdom and he did all he can do to represent everyone. 

Mount Nemrut was the most important sacred place of the Kingdom of Commagene, and Antiochus I. built those structures as an act of gratefulness to gods and ancestors. While doing that, he took into consideration the diversity of the population. Such that, same concepts’ illustrations in both Persian culture and Greek culture could be observed in those structures. Antiochus’ approach in terms of ruling the kingdom was the major thing that contributed to the kingdom’s keeping up in such a competitive and powerful area.

It has been said that the tumulus of Antiochus I. is at the top of Mount Nemrut. A tumulus is a name given to a grave, which is under the small mounds. Yet during the excavations, such a thing was not found. But due to the danger of excavating those tumuli, the area cannot be fully explored today.

Monumental sculptures take place in the east, west, and north terraces of the mountain. On the east-west side, Antiochus’ sculpture, statues of gods and goddesses, a lion, and an eagle statue can be observed. Those sculptures and statues represent the features of the Hellenistic period, Persian art, and a form that is special to the Kingdom of Commagene. The structures having features in 3 different cultures is another example of Antiochus I.’s approach to ruling this kingdom. Additionally, the sculptures of gods and goddesses are belonging to different kinds of cultures.

Due to Antiochus I.’s kindness and toleration to all kinds of human beings in his kingdom, the name “Kallinikos” was given to him. Kallinikos refers to a person who triumphs with beauty and goodness. He was also referred to as the mediator between east and west.

In the year 72 AD, the Kingdom of Commagene lost a war to Romans and the independence of the Kingdom of Commagene had come to an end. After losing its independence, no one saw or touched the sculptures and statues for over 2000 years. 

This loneliness of sculptures and statues continued until the year 1881 when a German engineer found this area. That German engineer was Karl Sester, and the first thought he had was that he found Assyrian ruins. He immediately called the German consulate in İzmir to tell them what he has found. From that point, excavations and researchers started in this area in different countries and different establishments. It did not take long to realize that those things Karl Sester found were not Assyrian ruins.

Statues in the Mount Nemrut

The sculptures are located at the foot of Nemrut Mountain. The foothills of Nemrut Mountain are divided into three as west, east, and north terraces. 

As I mentioned earlier, god and goddess statues are located in east and west terraces. Tumulus takes a place in the middle of those terraces.

Eagle Statue

The Eagle figure was widely used in different mythologies, as a messenger of God, in addition to representing divine power. 

In the Kingdom of Commagene, this eagle statue was a representation of sky domination through the meanings assigned to eagles. In Greek mythology, the eagle was the messenger who brought messages to people from Zeus.

Like other animal statues in Mount Nemrut, the eagle statue is believed to have a protective power over god and goddess statues in the area. For this reason, animal statues are located at each end of the god and goddess statue lines.

Leon Statue

Like the eagle statue, the lion statue was also believed to protect the god and goddess statues in the area. While the eagle was representing the power and domination in the sky, the lion statue here represents the power and domination in the land. On the backside of the lion statue, there are three big stars are present.

King Antiochus Statue

Antiochus I. built his own statue in this area because he was believing life after death and all of the gods and goddesses will help him to carry out his prestige. In the pedestal part of the statue, it can be observed that Antiochus I. is holding a bunch of branches, just like in Zeus and Apollon’s statues. The king Antiochus statue was not found until the year 1953 because it was stuck between all the stone chips.

Commagene Statue

This statue is a statue of Commagene, who is known as the goddess of the Kingdom of Commagene. The statue is shaped like a woman’s head, and in those terms, it is the one and only statue of a woman in the area. In the inscriptions found in the Commagene area, this goddess was referred to as goddess Argende, and in other sources, she was referred to as Tyche or Fortuna.

Commagene statue was the only statue in Mount Nemrut whose head was on the pedestals and it was completely sturdy, until the year 1960. In the year 1960, a bolt of lightning came right on to the Commagene Statue, and it fell down. In the head part of the Commagene Statue, different fruit motives could be observed. Those fruits were the fruits that were being produced in the Kingdom of Commagene, and they had a cultural value.

Zeus Statue

Zeus statue is located in the middle of all god and goddess statues. This is a representation of Zeus being the god of all gods and goddesses, and in addition to being in the middle, Zeus is the biggest statue among all statues. Zeus statue has a crown on his head, and even though the jaw part is broken, it is known that Zeus was pictured with beards in the statue. In addition, it is known that he wears a cloak on the base part of the statue.

Apollon Statue

Apollon is the son of Zeus in Greek mythology and is located right next to Zeus in the Mountain Nemrut. Apollo represents wisdom and knowledge in Greek mythology, and in the statue, Apollon looks way younger than Zeus. This is understandable since Zeus is his father. Like Zeus, Apollon is holding a branch in his hand in the statue, and he is wearing a tunic in the base part of the statue.

Herakles Statue

Herakles is the last statue among god and goddess statues in the Mount Nemrut. Herakles was born from a god and a mortal; his father is Zeus, and his mother is a mortal named Alcmene. In Greek mythology, Herakles represents the war between human beings and nature. Like Zeus, Herakles statue has beards as well and he is holding a branch in his hand.

Tumulus

As I mentioned earlier, tumulus refers to a grave or graves under a small mound or mounds. In Mount Nemrut, the place that looks like the top of the mountain is actually a tumulus. This tumulus is made by pouring lots of sand above the king’s grave. Even though it has been said that Antiochus I.’s grave is buried here, due to the dangerous nature of getting inside of the tumulus, this could not be proven yet. But maybe one day, when there is enough technology to get inside the tumulus without risking one’s life, this mystery can be solved.

Facts about the Mountain Nemrut

Mountain Nemrut is a mysterious place, and you can never learn “too much” about it, there is always more. The following are some of the facts that you might not know about the Mountain Nemrut:

  • Antiochus tried to form a new religion to welcome everyone and decrease the possibility of conflict in his kingdom.
  • This sacred area, Mountain Nemrut, was designed just like this. The terrace idea was Antiochus’.
  • The faces of Greek and Persian gods’ statues are facing to east and west, this is another attempt of Antiochus to converge both cultures.
  • On the backside of the statues, Antiochus’ testament is written. His testament includes things such as beautifying the temple, not having any bad intentions about the temple, acting with hospitality for those who came to visit the temple, the ceremonies carried out in the temple to be nice and gorgeous, and so on.

Legends about the Mountain Nemrut

There are many legends written and talked about Nemrut Mountain. These legends differ from region to region. Besides those legends, Mount Nemrut is a mysterious place with undiscovered features. Such that, it is known that tunnels are passing under the area, but it is not found yet. Likewise, the grave of Antiochus I. is not found as well. Those all add even more mystery to Mount Nemrut, just like the legends told about it.

Van region legend about the Mountain Nemrut

The legend about the Mountain Nemrut from the Van region is about a king, his son, and the Van lake. This legend takes place in a world in which people could live 1000 years. In this world, there is a king that has everything, but one thing that he valued the most in the world was his son. One day, when his son was 500 years old, he fells into the Van lake and drowns to death. After his son’s death, he becomes very sad and cries every day, and his sadness came to a level that he becomes sick.

His sickness could not be treated in any manner, even though they tried everything. One day, when he was about the die, he got up from his bed and screamed to the Mountain Nemrut about his sadness. The scream of the king echoed in the Mountain Nemrut and came back to the king with even more volume. The king could not handle hearing his screams with a larger volume and he passed there right away.

After this event, Mountain Nemrut also could not handle what just happened, and it got erupted since it is a volcanic mountain. This eruption was the last time that the Mountain Nemrut erupted, it has been said that Mountain Nemrut is still grieving for the king and his son.

The legend about Christianism and Mountain Nemrut

This is a theory that cannot go beyond just being a legend. Adrian Gilbert was the first one who comes up with the idea that Christianism was born in the Mountain Nemrut. Adrian Gilbert was an esoteric researcher, meaning that he was searching for the secrets only a couple of people know in the whole world.

As he was investigating how did Christianism first formed, the traces got him to Philistine, followed by France and then, Anatolia. As he follows the traces in Anatolia, he finds himself in the Kingdom of Commagene. Adrian Gilbert thought that the leader of the Kingdom of Commagene, Antiochus I., was a member of a “mystic fraternity school”. Moreover, he argued that Antiochus I. had close relationships with another secret organization that is related to it, and that organization’s symbol was a Commagene Leo.

With symbols highlighting mystery in the Mountain Nemrut, Adrian Gilbert decided to investigate more in the area, and the Leo statue that has stars on its back made him quite curious. He then realized that those are not just random stars, but they were representing a star map. He concluded that the star map was representing the date of January 6, which is the day that Jesus was baptized. 

Additionally, it has been said that the roots of Christianism are Mithraism, and Mithraism was first arising in the Kingdom of Commagene. Thus, it can be inferred that Mountain Nemrut was indirectly the place where Christianism was born.

There is no evidence supporting those claims, but it is an interesting story.

Mount Nemrut, aliens and UFOs

Mount Nemrut is a mystic and mysterious place, and this mystery is even present today. In Adiyaman, especially in the Mount Nemrut area, UFO notices are pretty frequent. Of course, UFO means “undefinable flying object”, and does not necessarily mean that there are aliens inside of that flying object but, there are some theories about it.

It is believed that the area of Mountain Nemrut has a special vibration and energy, and this is why UFOs are pretty common in that area. It is also believed that if aliens ever happen to contact with human beings, it will be in the Mountain Nemrut.

Even ufologists, individuals who are professional about UFO subject, are noticing the significant pattern about UFOs in Mount Nemrut. According to one of the most famous ufologists, there is a UFO hidden under the Mount Nemrut area, and if we ever happen to find this UFO, the world will completely change forever.

But of course, these are just hearsays and none of them are supported by scientific evidence. It has come to a point that soon enough, aliens and Mount Nemrut will be a legend. Actually, aliens and Mount Nemrut is an ancient belief that is old enough to be a legend today, but some people who overlook the evidence of science tries to keep this legend alive.

The UFO agenda on Mount Nemrut is sort of a modern mystery that could be observed even today. As I mentioned earlier, Mount Nemrut is full of secrets waiting to be resolved, and perhaps the mystic energy of Mount Nemrut creates an environment in which believing supernatural events is easier than usual. Such that, Mount Nemrut is a place that you feel everything is unreal, and this vibe you feel in the area, makes you question things.

Further information and travel tips about Mountain Nemrut

Mountain Nemrut is on another level at sunrise and sunset. This is why the opening hours of the Mountain Nemrut are so early, for visitors to enjoy the sunrise. It is recommended to get there as early as possible and take your camera with you to take wonderful pictures. You can bring your food and drinks and have a little picnic on the terraces if you want, and I am sure that that picnic will be the best one you will ever have in your life.

You must be careful on your way there if you are driving yourself because the roads are not that smooth and regular. If you got your driver’s license recently, giving your car to an experienced person is recommended to eliminate the danger.

Frequently asked questions about Mount Nemrut

Mount Nemrut is a place in which you can constantly learn more about it. The following are some of the most frequently asked questions about Mount Nemrut.

Who built Mount Nemrut?

Son of the founder of the Kingdom of Commagene, Antiochus I. built Mount Nemrut.

When did Mount Nemrut was built?

Evidence shows that Mountain Nemrut was built around the 1st century BC.

Is Mount Nemrut safe to visit?

Yes, Mount Nemrut is safe to visit. There are no terror attacks in history, and it attracts thousands of visitors annually.

Should I visit Mount Nemrut?

The answer is 100% yes since it is one of the 18 heritage of Turkey that is on UNESCO’s world heritage list.

How long is Mount Nemrut?

Mount Nemrut is 2 thousand and 150 meters long.

İsmail Çamönü

Hi! I am Ismail. I am a digital nomad from Turkey. I lived in many cities around Turkey during my life and I am passionate about traveling. At Nomad's Guide to Turkey, I share travel tips for nomads, expats, and tourists who would like to visit Turkey.

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