Nemrut Dağı Summit

Top choice in Southeastern Anatolia

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, throned 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 (more popular) approach to the summit, from Karadut or Kahta, brings you to a smart visitor centre complex with a cafe and an expansive terrace with excellent panoramic views. You pay your entrance fee here and then must take a shuttle bus service for the last 2km to the summit car park. From here it's about a 600m uphill walk to the Western or Eastern Terrace. The northern approach, from the Malatya direction, brings you to an entrance gate and car park 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'.

The site is very popular with sunrise tours. There are usually fewer people at sunset but if you want to have the site to yourself, it's well worth coming during daytime when you're very likely to be the only visitor there.