Sitting indoors at sea level on a fairly warm day my opinion of Mount Nemrut has softened a little. At the time the fallen idolatry ranked as one of my biggest travel disappointments but I can now look on the photos taken on the mountain with at least some affection.
This though is why I believe I reacted so negatively once we were there in person. The fallen statuary arrayed on the summit of Mount Nemrut is incredibly photogenic. It is easy to see why the fallen heads are the poster boys of Turkey’s cultural tourism and frequently take prime spot on the covers of guidebooks.
Up on the mountain though, especially on a freezing cold dull day the realisation dawns that Mount Nemrut is all about the photos. Looking at the photographs taken by other travellers had in my mind blown the size of the site out of all proportion to the reality. I hadn’t noticed all the photos seem to be of the same few statues and imagined there would be far more to the site than there actually is.
Fooled by this impression and with unrealistic expectations we arrived far too early for sunset and tramped around the snow cone of a summit to view the half dozen fallen heads on one side, the small number of reliefs and statues on the other. The slippy-slidey piece of plastic nailed to my boots in Iraq occasionally introducing my arse, hands or knees to the snowy ground didn’t help my mood either.
And when I say we walked around the summit, what I really mean is just me. Deirdre had finally rebelled at being dragged up one mountain too many and fled back down the path at the insistence of her acrophobia.
I took some photos and followed a little later feeling a little underwhelmed.
Mt Nemrut was also the point where we hit tourist Turkey. The minor extortion and fakery that masquerades as acceptable business practice in many tourist areas of Turkey had already started to replace the genuine conversation and hospitality we had seen elsewhere in the country.
In Nemrut’s defence I should say that the location and the fallen statuary are impressive. I had the mountain largely to myself and didn’t have to walk vertically for half a week to get there only for a busload of lazy bastards other tourists to arrive and get in the way of my camera.