A Stunning, Cold Sunrise on Nemrut Mountain, Turkey

A small site in the Anti-Taurus mountains, the tumulus at Nemrut Dagi is supposedly at its best either at sunrise or sunset.  Since we missed the sunset, we chose to rise early and watch the sunrise.  Honestly, I’m not sure what the allure of going to the top of a mountain at sunrise is, but this seems to be a common theme all around the world…one I usually could have done without, and this is one of those examples.

Nemrut Dagi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987, is a small site that hosts the tomb of a little known king from the little known kingdom of Kommegene.  King Antiochos I (69-36 B.C.) is buried here, although no one has excavated his remains at this point, and besides the impressive statues, there really isn’t much to see.  Apparently Aniochos’ kingdom was quite impressive in its day, but he obviously liked to abuse his power, because he didn’t have to drag those stone to the top of the mountain.  He had plenty of slaves to do that for him, a great example of abuse of power.  If all the rulers were as self-indulging, it’s no wonder the Romans were able to conquer the kingdom and annex it to the Roman province of Syria around 69 A.D.

Luckily our guesthouse was right outside the gates to the national park, so it took us only about 10 minutes to drive to the parking area.  This added up to at least 30 minutes more sleep than the other poor souls had, and for that we were grateful.  However, once you get to the parking area, you must climb over very uneven, rocky steps to reach the peak, where it was windy and cold!  As the sun had not yet risen, it was extremely difficult to take photos, then we find out that there is no way to take photos of the statues in the sunrise.  Why did we get up so early?

Once the sun was up, there were so many people milling around, it was still difficult to photograph, so I just went from grumpy to grumpier.  We ended up with some decent shots, but unless you are a sunrise fanatic, I would skip the sunrise altogether.  It just wasn’t that magnificent, and I would have rather been there in the in-between popular times to have had a better chance at getting great shots.  However, the site is so small, it doesn’t warrant going more than once, so what I have is what I have.

7 thoughts on “A Stunning, Cold Sunrise on Nemrut Mountain, Turkey”

  1. Hi Corinne,
    No, we will probably be flying on one of the low cost UK airlines taking people to their villas and the sun on the Turkish coast! E.g to Dalaman. This gets us resonably into the heart of Turkey witout having to go down to LHR or change planes in Istambul.
    Thnaks for the map suggestion though. I have been to/through Turkey several times before(in addtion to Istanbul stopovers) – back between 1964 – 71!! I don’t think I had better use my maps from that era though, as my wife Judith will confirm, I have been known to try to do so!
    We recently had a driving holiday in Israel and I tried a map series I wasn’t previously aware of – “Reise Know-How Landkarte”. I am very much a “map” person and found this series excellent for detail, accuracy and ease of reading. The “non tear” paper worked as well! The series covers a lot of “less travelled” coutries (e.g Armenia and Iran) and you might find them of interest in the future. Here is a link to the Turkey edition

  2. Hi Solivagent, thanks for visiting our site. We drove to Nemrut from Cappadochia in one long drive with a stop in Malatya. The road does not go through from the north to the south, you are correct about that. We drove south out of Malatya and approached the mountain from Kyahta staying in a hotel in Karadut. There were a few hotels there that promote themselves as closest to the peak (I believe they actually are). This is where we stayed and our hotel arranged a half day tour that started with a drive to the trail head at the peak and followed up with a tour around the various sites of Nemrut. It was a decent small group tour (just our family) and well worth the small cost, though I don’t recall the exact amount. I believe you could drive to the trail-head yourself in about 15 – 20 minutes from Karadut. However, it would have been difficult to find the other minor sites in the area without a guide.
    We did notice the climbing trail was much shorter for those who arrived from the north side. I’m not sure but I believe these are typically day trippers out of Malatya or even Cappadochia. We couldn’t find much info for that route and we were heading on to Sanli Urfa afterwards so it just made the most sense to do it the way we did.
    A word of advice…a good road map of Turkey is a rare treasure and the further east and mountainous you go the more likely the map will let you down. And our GPS was often useless as well. Keep in mind the best way to find something is to ask, Turkish people are some of the friendliest on the planet and will often go out of their way (literally) to help a traveler.
    The roads will depend largely on the time of year. Smaller roads may not be open in spring and early summer and if they are open it may be treacherous as repairs for winter damage may not yet have been made. The later in the year the better. We did the trip in late June in a Volvo S40. We meandered our way through the mountains, off-map, asking directions along the way on mostly dirt roads. We encountered some mud but nothing that was impassable.
    Take your time, enjoy the road and the people, and have a fabulous trip! I think driving in Turkey is the only way to go!

    1. Solivagent, Are you going to be in Istanbul before you drive? The best road map we ever found was at the Tourist Information Kiosk right there in Sultan Ahmet near the Aya Sofia. Good luck!

      1. Hi Corinne,
        No we will be flying on one of the UK low cost airlines on a route for villa owners and sunseekers! Probably direct to Dalaman – it gets us reasonably close to the heart of Turkey without having to go down to LHR or change in Istambul .
        Thanks for the suggestion though. I have aready been to or through Turkey 3 times (not counting Istambul stopovers) but the maps I have from those days (1964 – 71!!!!) won’t be of much use – though, as my wife Judith would tell you, that doesn’t always stop me trying to use them!
        We have recently returned from a self dirve trip to Israel and I tried a map from the German “Reise Know-How Landkarte” series of which I was previuosly unaware. I am very much a “map” person and was very impressed with it for accuracy, detail and ease of reading. Their series includes countries such as Armenia, Myanmar, Iran and Mongolia so you might like to have a look at/try them. See

  3. Hi Corinne/Jim,
    I picked up your Web site from your review of Divrigi on worldheritagesite.org (I hope you have voted for the “Top 50 Missing”!!)
    My wife and I are planning a trip to Turkey, probably in May, with the aim of visiting a number of the WHS there.
    We intend renting a car and I note that you have self driven to Nemrut Dag – as above.
    I am finding it a bit difficult to decide on the best way of seeing Nemrut. Like you, my experiences over the years of sunrises has been that the vision is usually better than the reality so that is not a major factor for us.
    The bigger issue is how best to approach the site by road. LP isn’t really written for folks travelling by car and isn’t very informative on the matter. One of Turksih sites I have read says that the road to the summit is NOT a through road so one has to decide whether to approach from the north (Maltya) or the south (Katya). Also that parts of the road might be rather rough -we wwill only have a saloon. Ideally we would have preferred to traverse from north to south as we will be coming from Divrigi and going on to Urfa (Gobekli tepe etc!). But…..
    Any views on
    a. Where to aim to stay – how close to the summit and on the Southern or Northern side
    b. Length of time required to drive from hotel to the car park at the summit and then see the site.


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