Nemrut Dağı Summit

Ruins in Nemrut Dağı National Park

Nemrut Dağı's famous statues sit on two terraces flanking Antiochus I's giant gravel-covered, mountaintop burial mound. Their 2m-high heads, toppled from their bodies by earthquakes, now sit silently on the ground in front of their colossal, bethroned bodies. The Eastern Terrace has the better-preserved thrones and bodies; the heads on the Western Terrace are in better condition. The statues represent Antiochus and four syncretistic Persian-Greek identities (reflecting Antiochus' own mixed ancestry), plus guardian lions and eagles.

The southern approach to the summit, from Karadut or Kahta, brings you to a parking area and tea stall from which it's about a 600m uphill walk to the Western Terrace. The northern approach, from the Malatya direction, brings you to within 250m of the Eastern Terrace. It's a 300m walk round either side of the mound from one terrace to the other.

The statues and heads are arranged in the same order on each side: from left to right, lion, eagle, Antiochus, the Commagene Tyche (goddess of fortune and fertility), Zeus-Oromasdes, Apollo-Mithras, Heracles-Artagnes, eagle, lion.

On the backs of the eastern statues are inscriptions in Greek. Low walls at the sides of each terrace once held carved reliefs showing processions of ancient Persian and Greek royalty, Antiochus' 'predecessors'. The site was to be approached by a ceremonial road to what Antiochus termed 'the thrones of the gods', which would be based 'on a foundation that will never be demolished'.