Today was our first day in a a few days which wasn't simply about getting to the next place,and hoping the scenery would be interesting on the way. Instead, we had an actual planned stop at the rather obscure but very interesting Unesco site of Mount Nemrut. Unfortunately we didn't have time to see any more of the fortress walls at Diyarbakır before departing this morning, but we realise by this point in the trip that we simply can't see everything on the journey, and sometimes need to pick and choose.
Once we hit the road we had two and a half hours from Diyarbakır to the mountains where the Mount Nemrut historical site is located. The first two hours of this were on yet more brand new dual carriageway through very dry and rocky land with some farms dotted around, which was mostly flat and fairly monotonous. This all changed when we made it to the turn off for the mountains, when we started to rapidly ascend on a good quality but paved rather than tarmacked road. This was the kind of paving you would usually find on a pavement, and must have taken a great deal of effort to lay. My best guess is it might wear better than tarmac, but it certainly wasn't great to drive on, with a lot of jittering as we climbed. Despite the fact we were heading to the regions main attraction, we had the road almost to ourselves, and this meant we could drive at a comfortable speed and take in the scenery as we went. I'd read the peak of the mountain is at 2,400m altitude, and the temperature dropped from about 36 degrees lower down to a more pleasant 28 degrees at the top.
About 2km from the peak is a visitor centre, where we had to park up and get out of the car to buy tickets inside (50 TL, about £2.50 per person). The visitor centre was probably overkill considering the number of tourists (us plus two other cars in the large car park, bearing in mind this is peak season), with a museum, cafe, large terrace with many tables and sofas to relax on, as well as quite a few staff to run the whole thing. We didn't mind how quiet it was though, and we had a relaxing lunch on the terrace while taking in the view over the mountain range.
We then drove the last 2km up to a parking area just before the peak. From here we had to make a short hike the rest of the way up to the tumulus, which is a word I had to look up and apparently means a mound of stones, which explains why the peak itself was made up of a mound of stones! The hike meant it was time to use the harness for Lucy, where I was responsible for taking her up, before we later switched and Melisa did the return journey. It was only about 15 minutes walk, and most of the path had been paved, but it was still hard work given we had no time to acclimatise to the altitude, and the sun was beating down strongly. You can either opt for the East terrace or the West terrace first, but whichever way you choose to go up, you then walk around the peak and take the other side back down. We opted for the East terrace route up, and this meant we arrived at probably the most impressive area, which is where the main Throne Platform is found. If interested, it is worth reading up about Mount Nemrut elsewhere online, but in short it is a mausoleum built just over 2,000 years ago by Antiochus I. The tomb consists of a number of statues representing Antiochus, some Greek/Roman gods, and some animals. Due to earthquakes the heads are now separate from the bodies, but they have been lined up nicely below and make for an impressive view in combination with the mountains all around. Despite the low number of visitors, the statues themselves are cordoned off and there are guards stationed all around the place to make sure you don't go too close. It felt a bit unnecessary, but didn't detract from the experience luckily.
We stopped for a while to take in the incredible views and enjoy some relaxing music they were playing in the East Terrace area, while Lucy was in a playful mood and Summer wandered around off the lead. We then continued on the path to reach the North Terrace which didn't have much to see, and then the West Terrace which featured more heads of the same people/gods, and some stone steles showing them as well. Overall, the statues reminded me quite a bit of the Easter Island statues, but of course done in a Greek and Persian style instead of Polynesian. According to the Unesco inscription there, the style and complexity of the statues is 'unequaled in the ancient world', so I suppose we can say we saw something rather unique today.
Once we were done we got back in the car and started the drive to our hotel for the night in the city of Malatya. Google Maps seemed to think it would be possible to drive over the top of Mount Nemrut and come down the other side, but there was no such road joining the two sides of the mountain, and we had to back track slightly before taking an extremely mountainous route the rest of the way. This was the first time we had seen the dual carriageways disappear, and we found ourselves winding around the sides of mountains on a freshly tarmacked single carriageway. The entire route was wonderfully scenic and very remote area much like the D060 drive the other day, though the number of bends did make Melisa a little car sick.
This evening we had a little walk around Malatya, which is situated in one of the largest apricot producing regions in the world. We are staying in a new part of the city centre near some nice malls and parks, which has made for a pleasant walk this evening, and a lovely dinner from the top floor of our 5 star hotel which only cost £40 for the night.
Summer had a great time today climbing to the peak of Mount Nemrut with us. Since it was so quiet we let her off the lead most of the way, and she gave a thorough inspection and sniff to the ancient site.
In Malatya this evening I took her for a walk around the nearby park and high street and she got a lot of attention, especially from children. There don't seem to be any stray dogs here which is great, though there are a lot of cats around and they definitely don't want to play!
Today was a perfect amount of driving with the range of the car, using about 75% of the battery and therefore not having any range anxiety at all as we drove to the very remote Mount Nemrut with no chargers from Diyarbakır to Malatya. Once we got to the hotel I was disappointed to find the hotel's charger was from the company Voltrun who for some reason give me a payment error whenever I try to charge with their app. This happened somewhere earlier in the trip as well. Luckily there is a ZES charger right near the hotel as a backup.
- ZES charger at Doga Cadde AVM, Malatya