The Nemrud is a mountain of the Taurus Range. From a height of 2,206 metres it dominates the entire landscape. From whatever side you approach it, its distinctive peak can be seen. The mountain is only accessible during the summer months. The rest of the year it is covered by snow and ice.
The last priest of Kommagene probably left the sanctuary on Mount Nemrud in 72 A.D., after king Antiochos IV had lost the war with Rome. For almost two thousand years, only the wailing of the wind disturbed the rest of the king(s) who are buried here.
The Christian population, who later came to live here, knew nothing of the origins of the sanctuary. They thought that it had to be the work of the legendary Nimrod from the Old Testament. Therefore they called the mountain after the first powerful ruler on earth, Nemrud.
It was not until the nineteenth century, that the German, Karl Sester, discovered the sanctuary on Mount Nemrud. He was less astonished by the impressive ruins than by the total absence of them on any map of Asia Minor.
After his discovery, the Turkish archeologist, Hamdi Bey, began the first excavations on the mountain. German, American and Turkish archaeologists took over the work and continued it to this day. The work of Friedrich Karl Dörner and Theresa Goell , as well as Sencer Şahin, is worthy of note.
Three terraces were built on the mountain. The East-, West- and North-Terrace. To make these terraces large enough, the builders of Kommagene had to almost completely decapitate the mountain top. Only a small ridge is left of the summit at the West-Terrace. You can observe the ten metre high rock face, suddenly shearing off vertically. For the East-Terrace alone 1,500 cubic metres of solid rock had to be cut away. What an enormous undertaking it must have been.
The tumulus, which covers the top of Mount Nemrud, was built from the innumerable pieces of angular and sharp stones thus produced. The tumulus has a height of 50 metres and at the base a diameter of 150 metres. An ancient processional way surrounds the tumulus.