Yay! The pretty pictures are back.
Following my earlier update, I've traveled from Trabzon on the coast of the Black Sea in the North to Mount Nemrut, somewhere in the middle, then onwards to Sanliurfa, which is in the Kurdish heartland of Turkey. It's been a tough trip because there are very few direct buses and I had to spend a lot of time shuttling between transportation hubs i.e. bigger cities. The nicest bits of this region, however, are in the smaller towns, and it takes some effort to get to them.
Some photos from my bus-ing around:
This is the Sumela Monastery, a Greek Orthodox structure dedicated to Christ and the Virgin Mary. Yes, the guy at the very top of the bottom pic is Jesus, with a halo around his head. The other frescoes depict biblical scenes and the colours used are truly stunning. The monastery was founded in the 4th century but most of the frescoes were only added from the 15th to the 18th century. The structure is carved right into the rock face on a cliff 1,200m high. It's about 45km south of Trabzon, so it's not really in Southeast Turkey, but I thought I'd include it in this series because it's really very nice.
What is really fascinating is how the statues have Greek-styled facial features but clothing and hair from Armenian and Persian influences. Some of the gods too, are dualistic in nature e.g. Zeus/Ahura Mazda (the Persian Zoroastrian omnipotent god), Apollo/Mithras (the Persian pre-Zoroastrian sun-god) and Heracles/Vahagn (the Armenian god of fire and war). It's believed that Antiochus was trying to reconcile the different religions in his kingdom by combining influences from each.
The massive mound you see behind the statues is not naturally formed - it's a tomb complex constructed of rocks piled 50m high.
The top pic is a top-down view of Mevlid-i-Halil Mosque, and of the surrounding gardens and city. The second and third pics are of Rizvaniye Mosque and its splendid waterfront arcade. The third pic shows a man in prayer, facing the waters teaming with fish.