Monday, July 9, 2012

After watching the sunrise at Mount Nemrut, we headed down to the village of Karadut for an early breakfast of gözleme and unlimited glasses of Turkish tea.

There are several pansiyons here that cater to tourists wishing to explore Mount Nemrut and serve simple breakfasts. After surviving our chilly climb, we were cold and quite hungry. Karadut made for a great rest stop.
At 6 a.m., I found this scene quite comical. Chickens literally crossing the road in the village of Karadut, Turkey.
Once our bellies were satisfied and hands were thawed out, I plunked in the new GPS directions and headed for the 2nd century BC ruins of Arsameia (also spelled Arsemia). The road was a bit rough, and we drove past several herds of sheep, goats and cattle being led along the road to better pastures.
According to inscriptions by King Antiochus I, Arsameia was the summer capital and administrative center of the Commagene kingdom, founded at the beginning of the 2nd century BC, near the Kahta River.

After climbing a gravel-strewn, dusty path up the hill, we encountered an impressive stone relief depicting the Greek god Hercules shaking hands with King Mithridates, who founded Commagene and was the father of Antiochus.

To the right of the relief is a long inscription in Greek, known as the largest inscription discovered in Anatolia. This inscription describes the founding of Arsameia. (We didn't buy the guide book, so that's all I know.)

Up-close view of the Greek inscription above the cave at Arsameia.
Below the inscription is a cave that descends 158 meters, possibly leading to an underground room that was used for worshiping rites. My husband climbed down the steps in the tunnel as far as he could, but reported that it was steep and dark so he couldn't see much.
Entrance to the cave at Arsameia, Turkey
At the very top of the hill, you will find remains of the palace of Arsameia that once stood here. There's little to see except a few marble pillars and rock foundations, but the view of the countryside is magnificent. You can see why a ruler would want to build a palace here.
The remains of the ancient site of Arsameia. Where did all the stones go?
View from the hilltop at the site of Arsameia, Turkey

During our trips in Turkey, we try to explore as much history as possible. The ruins of Arsameia, on their own, aren't that impressive, but are definitely a must-see when you visit Mount Nemrut.

How to get there:
After you descend Mount Nemrut, the main road will fork to the right, follow this road to reach the ruins of Arsameia, about 20 km away. Or if you stop in Karadut like we did, you will have to follow the road out of the village and then you will see a brown sign for Arsameia, which is near the village of Kocahisar.

Save your entrance ticket from Mount Nemrut because you will need it to access the ruins of Arsameia. Or you will have to pay another 8 tl.

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Jessica said...

Isn't the history just amazing here? And to just run into that fabulous stone relief you have pictured...I'm constantly reminded how very young America is. Interesting perspective.

Alan said...

another enjoyable post and a reminder to go back to Nemrut area.

Joy said...

@Jessica, yes it is! Turkey continues to amaze me. Stay tuned for more ruins around the area.

@Alan, thank you! More to come this week.

Dolce Fooda said...

Joy, I envie you so much... you are living my dreams... Turkey is full of history and still not packed and explored with tourists.

Ozlem's Turkish Table said...

What a fascinating site, it's been so long since I was there - thanks for bringing back lots of happy memories!

Joy said...

@Dolce Fooda, Well, please come visit us! Turkey is so full of history...and there are direct flights from Washington DC now. :-)

@Ozlem, Glad I recalled some happy memories for you! We know so many Turks from Istanbul that haven't ventured to this part of the country. My husband's colleagues are impressed and exhausted by the kind of trips we do here in Turkey!

jaz@octoberfarm said...

i want to travel to turkey more and more with each of your posts. it is all so enchanting!

Joy said...

@Joyce, Happy to hear! Guess I'm being a good ambassador for Turkey after all then! ;-)