Wherever we travel to, cities are never our cup of tea, nature’s beautiful landscapes always beckon. Gravity pulled us away from the stretches of Cappadocia’s desert valleys. Towards the Taurus mountains, softly layered shadows lingered like a long whisper into the horizon. The long twisting roads writhing in the distance like sun scorched serpents. Switchbacks leading up, defying the mountains desire for solitude. Sheer cliffs and dizzying drop offs with panoramic views of endless valley and mountainous terrain. The mountains took our breath away, holding us captive in her embrace. As we climbed steadily and uncertainly around each hairpin bend.
After two hours of climbing we finally arrived at the base of Nemrut Dagi.
Nemrut Dagi was built by the late Hellenistic King Antiochos I of Commagene as a monument to himself. The center is a high funeral mound of rock chips surrounded on three sides by terraces to the North, West & East directions. Five giant seated statues of different deities face outwards from the mound on the East and west terraces. The deities are flanked on each side by large animal statues, lion and eagle on each end. The heads have fallen off of each statue but the overall preservation of this monument is quite intact. Nemrut dagi is one of the unique artistic achievements of the Hellenistic period.
We had the entire monument to ourselves to enjoy in silence. The only other people there were the security guards who watch and protect the site. We had truly escaped the swarm of tour busses and mass crowds of Cappadocia. We stood on top of this mountain, taking in the incredible views and wondering at these ancient, well preserved artifacts.
We are continuously amazed by the civilizations of ancient times, their architectural feats and perseverance to thrive in some of the harshest terrains. Turkey is rich in history and we cannot wait to visit more archeological sites like this one.
We continued onward away from the tourism, setting our sights North towards the Kackar mountains, some of the highest mountains in Turkey. The mountain roads here are some of the most sketchy roads we have ever been on. We found ourselves on many unfinished roads, mostly dirt or gravel with sheer steep drop offs and no guard rails.
The views of the mountains and valleys beneath us were enough to calm the nerves. We saw many beautiful lakes and passed through over fifty tunnels that punched through some of the craziest terrain we have ever been through. Sheer walls of rock rising up from the canyon floor, towering, jagged and endless in depth.
Our intentions were to make it to the base of Kackar Dagi, the tallest mountain in this range, so we could do some hiking. However the single road to get there was closed off due to a rock slide and heavy road work. So we quickly changed plans and found ourselves in the Mountain valley of Artvin for a few nights, in an A-frame cabin alongside the river. We went zip lining over a gorge and found ourselves on another treacherous unfinished road in an attempt to find a national park.
There is so much beauty and protected land here in Turkey, but the parks are so underdeveloped the access is very limited and there is little to no information to be found online. From what we have seen, it looks like they are working on developing their roads so the access is not as dangerous. We are grateful for what we could access and enjoy nonetheless!