|A full day of driving and exploring needed an early start.
Mount Nemrut National Park was our target to see a number of ancient sites especially the 'Throne of the Gods', the 8th ancient Wonder of the World. Huge stone statues dating back to 69 BC mark the east and west sides of a 60m high stone Tumulus in which three kings had been buried.
The site was created by King Antiochus of the Kommagene civilisation and was one of the most interesting we had visited and well worth the effort to reach.
At 2150m high the view from the site was amazing.
To get there we had to drive up to a designated high point then board a shuttle bus to reach a higher level. From then on it was a foot slog for some 800m up a sometimes paved, sometimes rocky pathway.
We were stuffed but thankfully it was only around the mid twenties and not the later high thirties predicted for the day.
The bus driver was scheduled to pick us up in one hour but upon our return he was nowhere to be seen. We waited for around 20 minutes in the increasing heat only to discover he was sound asleep across the front seats in the bus. It was good to get back to air conditioning.
Next was the old Cendere Bridge built by the XVIth Roman Legion in early 200 AD. There was not a lot of water flowing in the Cendere River but it was great to see quite a few people getting some relief from the heat. A nearby store holder gave our car a cooling hose down as we were about to leave after buying drinks from him. Now that was good customer relations.
On the continuing drive we were excited to cross the historic Euphrates River which was very unexpected. Views from higher ground were spectacular.
As we were in need of a coffee-hit we stopped at the old town of Diyarbakir and found a really great cafe. Not only was the coffee good but we scored free Baklavas. What a great day.
On the final leg to our stopover at Mardin we drove alongside the Tigris River for quite a while without realising it at the time. Dah! :-(
The day seemed to have reached biblical proportions.
Our extended stopover in Mardin was brilliant. Our lodgings this time was in a 600 y.o. stone mansion converted into a hotel while still retaining much of its original architecture and fittings. With room views overlooking the plains of Mesopotamia and with Syria just 54 kms away we were mesmerised. Our rooftop dinner under the stars added to the location. It was a great stopping point even if a little close to the turmoil just over the border with Syria, Iran and Iraq.
Mardin was an important point on the old Silk Road and retains much of its history in a maze of tunnels and alleyways which now are home to dozens of shops in each of its numerous bazaars. We put in some serious leg-work exploring much of it.
The towns busiest period was between the 9th and 11th centuries and it was in this part of Mesopotamia that the Legend of Noah's Flood originated.
A visit to the town's museum proved interesting which displayed many items outlining the areas turbulent history as well as its local crafts.
Mardin's other claim to fame is that it is Turkey's main provider of pistachio nuts. Yum!
The next stop was Gaziantep and the temperatures were expected to be high.