Picture this; we're in the year 190 BC. After the huge war - the Battle of Magnesia-, the Seleucid Empire was defeated by the Romans and the whole empire was falling apart. One of the Seleucid successor states, Commagene, which was an ancient Armenian kingdom, was establishing itself between the Taurus mountains and the Euphrates. Carrying the features of the great Seleucid Empire, Commagene was also a multiethnic kingdom. The leader of the Commagene Kingdom, Antiochus I Theos, wanted all the Armenian, Greek and Persian people in his kingdom to consider themselves as a family. His only wish was to unify his kingdom and secure his dynasty's authority, especially after seeing the destructive face of the wars.
He was a propagator of happiness and salvation and a loved leader. He made his kingdom a remarkable civilization by unifying the cultures and beliefs, and he built the Hierotheseion -aka temple-tomb and house of the gods-, on the top of the sublime Mount Nemrut at 2,206 meters above the sea level. The gigantic statues of gods, each weighing 6 tons and 10 meters tall, were built to honor their unified cultures and beliefs. After Antiochus I Theos' death, they buried him here in a splendid tomb, which was decorated with colossal statues made of limestone. Sadly, after his death, the Commagene kingdom did not last long after Antiochus. What we see today, are the monuments of the imperial cult of Commagene and several of his successors' tombs.
Mount Nemrut is a 2,134-metre-high mountain located in Adıyaman, in southeastern Turkey. With its world famous number of large statues and royal tombs dating back to the 1st century BC, it attracts many tourists throughout the year. In 1987, Mount Nemrut was made a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The perfect time to visit these breathtaking monuments is between April and October, due to weather conditions. Here, it is also one of the best places on earth to watch the sunrise and sunset. I mean, can you imagine a more magical place to gaze through the sky while standing next to giant gods' statues?
In here, you can walk through two separate antique processional routes and radiate from the east to the west terraces. There are five giant seated limestone statues, identified by their inscriptions as deities, which are flanked by a pair of guardian animal statues, a lion and eagle, at each end. The heads of the statues have fallen off to the lower level. There are also sculptures of Antiochos’ paternal Persian ancestors and sculptures of his maternal Macedonian ancestors. On the west, there is another row of stelae, representing the particular significance of Nemrut. The handshake scenes showing Antiochos shaking hands with a deity and the stele with a lion horoscope, were believed to be indicating the construction date of the cult area. This magical place is definitely worth a check!
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