Adiyaman Tourist Attractions
Southeast AnatoliaSituation and characteristicsAdiyaman, capital of the province of that name, is situated within the plateau region of southeast Turkey, to the south of the east Taurus mountains. It lies on the western edge of a flat depression, the southeast limit of which is formed by the Euphrates. Although the town, the center of an agricultural area (cotton, apricots, pistachios), has little worth seeing, it makes an excellent base from which to explore the historic Kommagene sites.Prior to the creation of the Turkish Republic Adiyaman was known as Hisn Mansur (Mansur's Castle), having begun life in 758 as a fortress (thugur) against the Byzantines. It was built under Caliph Marwan by the Omayyad leader Mansur Ben Ga'wana in succession to the earlier Roman town of Perre.
Ebu-Zer Gaffar Türbesi Mausoleum
Still surviving in the Old Town of Adiyaman are the Ebu-Zer Gaffar Türbesi Mausoleum, dating from the Islamic period, and ruins of the Hisn Mansur fortress from the early Omayyad period, which latter underwent restoration at the hands of the Abbasid Caliph Haroun al-Rachid (786-809). Below the fortress stands the 14th century Great Mosque (Ulu Cami) with three gates and encircling wall.
About 30km/19mi south of Adiyaman lies the 1,614m/1mi long, 169m/555ft high Atatürk Dam (formerly the Karabba Dam). With a volume of 48,470 million cu.m/63,400 million cu.yds and extending over an area of 817sq.km/315sq.mi, the reservoir produces 8,900 million kWh of electricity annually. Completed in 1990 as part of the GAP Project (Southeast Anatolian Project), the Atatürk Baraji is a key element in a whole series of dams on the Tigris and Euphrates. Altogether they irrigate some 1,856,627ha/4,587,725 acres of arable land as well as generating much-needed hydro-electric power.
Arsameia on the Euphrates
About 65km/40mi northeast of Adiyaman, reached via a track off to the right some 18km/11mi along the Gerger road, the Gerger Kalesi (lower and upper forts) stands guard high above the flooded Euphrates valley (Atatürk Dam). There are some Kommagene inscriptions (third gate) and a 2.7m x 4m/9ft x 13ft relief depicting the ruler Samos II. (Being carved in the rock at the western end of the castle crag, the latter is not easily accessible.) Inscriptions record that the founder was King Arsames of Kommagene in the third century B.C. and that the site was dedicated to the goddess Argandene.
Arsameia on the Nymphaios
Approximately 25km/15mi northeast of Adiyaman, above the east bank of the Kâhta Çayi (Nymphaios) opposite Yeni Kale castle near Eski Kâhta, is a cult and burial site known today as Eski Kale (Mithridates I Kallinikos) and the summer residence of the Kommagene rulers founded in the third century B.C. by Arsames. In addition to the remains of steps and buildings on the summit plateau (mosaics from the second century B.C.), a number of reliefs and rock chambers are passed on the approach.Lower relief (II): the god Mithras-Helios (a further part depicting Antiochus II is missing); middle relief (I): (fragments) Mithridates and his son Antiochus I, antechamber (cult site of the god Mithras?) with, to the rear, a rock tunnel with fourteen steps leading to the burial chamber of Mithridates (?) ; upper relief (III): Dexiosis relief of king (Mithridates or Antiochus I) with the demigod Hercules (extending his right hand), inscription by Antiochus I, steeply-stepped, blocked, rock tunnel (158m/518ft deep), purpose unknown.
This well-preserved Roman bridge crossing the Cendere (the ancient Chabinas) at a point where the river emerges from an impressive gorge into the wide valley of the Kâhta Çayi, was built between A.D. 198 and 200 by the "legio XVI Flavia firma", stationed in Samosata (Samsat). According to an inscription four Kommagene towns financed the building of the single-arched bridge with its span of 34.2m/112ft. One of the original four dedicatory columns (to Septimus Severus, his wife Iulia Domna and their sons Caracalla and Geta), the one to Geta, was taken down in A.D. 212, part of an attempt to obliterate any reminder of Caracalla's having had his brother and co-ruler removed.
The Dikilitas tumulus, 6m/20ft high and 35m/115ft in diameter, located 60km/37mi southwest of Adiyaman, is almost certainly the burial place of Mithridates II of Kommagene and his wife. Of the three original pairs of columns (from which the old name Sesönk = "three columns" was derived) only the southernmost survive complete with linking architrave. The outer chamber, with three tombs, is accessible. If driving there the best route, which even then is not without its problems, is via Sambayat, Besyol and Zormagora (4km/2.5mi on foot).
Eski Kâhta (Yeni Kale)
The village of Kocahisar, 70km/43mi northeast of Adiyaman, is a convenient spot from which to visit the Mameluke fortress of Yeni Kale, built on a narrow mountain spur high above a Seljuk bridge spanning the Kâhta Çayi gorge. The complex was constructed on top of earlier foundations by Kara Sonkar (Governor of Aleppo, 1286), being altered and extended at the end of the 13th century and in the mid 14th century Water was brought up from the Kâhta Çayi via a stepped passage-way and stored in a cistern. For the "express" delivery of messages carrier pigeons were used, notably during Sultan Kala'un's decisive battle against the Mongols at Homs (1281).
A short distance east of Dikilitas are the remains of a triple-arched bridge (center arch, 31m/102ft, collapsed) over the Göksu, the ancient Singas, a tributary of the Euphrates. Up until the Middle Ages this was an important river crossing on the former military road from Samosata to Zeugma (60km/37mi southwest of Adiyaman).
Kâhta (formerly Kolik), 35km/22mi east of Adiyaman, is the principal town of the district and the starting point for the drive through ancient Kommagene. Being short of hotel accommodation it has found itself increasingly eclipsed by the provincial capital.
This Kommagene tumulus 47km/29mi northeast of Adiyaman was erected by Mithridates II (36-20 B.C.) for his mother Isias, his sister Laodike (d. 36 B.C., wife of the Parthian King Orodes IV), and his niece Aka. From the original three pairs of columns only four now survive, the southernmost being crowned by an eagle (Karakus = "black bird"), the northeasterly one by a bull. On the northwest side are a toppled lion and a column the inscription on which records details of the tomb.
The karst mountain of Nemrut Dagi contains a burial mound with King Antiochus' tomb, and impressive terracing on three sides.
The ruins of Samosata (third century B.C.), the old Kommagene capital on the Euphrates, now mostly lie submerged beneath the waters of the Atatürk Baraji southwest of Kâhta. Only when the level in the reservoir is low does the 45m/148ft high castle hill, which in 1990 was still being excavated, break the surface of the water. The site is reached from Adiyaman by driving east to Arili and then south along the new road to Yeni Samsat (ca. 65km/40mi). From about 640 Samsat, like Adiyaman, was one of the frontier forts (thugur) constantly changing hands between Byzantium and the Arab and Turkoman invaders, sometimes under Christian occupation (e.g. 700, 860, 1098) and at other times Muslim (10th century Emirate of Aleppo; 12th century Seljuks).