ATATÜRK’s Monumental Portrait


The monumental ATATÜRK portrait, the photographs of which can be seen below, in Erzincan, Turkey, covering, 7,500 square meters, 1.852 acres area, (176m x 43m).

The portrait was dreamed and projected by a short term soldier, artist Mustafa Aydemir in 1982. He had claimed that it could be achieved in 30 days and without spending any money!!.

He convinced his commanders despite with all the difficulties and obstacles. He and his 3,000 volunteer short term soldiers accomplished the mission with big a success and being on time.

Special thanks, especially go to Brigade General Hidayet Güngör (deceased), retired Colonel Yilmaz Bahar, retired Colonel Eyüp Aslan and Mustafa Aydemir.

So far, I have reached 5 more soldiers who worked on the project ; Ömer Lütfi Genc, Gürsat Kale, Bahri Yildiz and Cihat Arsan. I would like thank them also.

According Mustafa Aydemir, it was made by hand-carried limestone boulders from 7 nearby hills. 100 tons of black and white paint was used.

I believe this may be the largest of its kind and should be nominated for the “Guinness World Records” book.

This monumental portrait can easily be seen 13,000m (40,000ft) above the ground on the Google Earth view.

I hope that this unknown ATATÜRK’s monumental portrait will attract the attention it deserves from the public and a TV documentary will be made soon.

I have organized a very professional documentary crew who is willing to do it and I hope to find a financial sponsor to realize the project.

You may click here to view this portrait via Google Maps.

Click here to access 1/100.000 scale geological map of the hill that the portrait sits on.

Sincerely yours,
Dr. Sezgin Aytuna

Atatürk\'ün portresi, Erzincan

Taken by Sezgin Aytuna with a telephoto lens from a distance of 10 km.

Atatürk\'ün portresi, Erzincan

Taken by Sezgin Aytuna with a telephoto lens from a distance of 10 km.

Atatürk\'ün portresi, Erzincan

Taken by Sezgin Aytuna with a telephoto lens from a distance of 10 km.

Atatürk\'ün portresi, Erzincan

Google Earth view from an altitude of 1500 m.

Atatürk\'ün portresi, Erzincan

Google Earth view from an altitude of 2500 m.

Atatürk\'ün portresi, Erzincan

Google Earth view from an altitude of 7500 m.


11 Yanıt to “ATATÜRK’s Monumental Portrait”

  1. Arnold Reisman Says:

    The above portrait monumental in size as it may be was man-created.
    However there are two natural phenomena of great size bearing Atatürk’s likeness. They are in Gömeç (Armutova), Ayvalık and on the Damal mountain near Yukari Gündeş village, Ardahan. A colleague Professor Cemal Ekin and I have recently co-authored an article showing the natural pehenomena jusxtaposed with actual Ataturk photographs in photo montage format. The article is available through Dr. Sezgin Aytuna, the owner of this blog.

    Should you be interested in reading some more on the subject please see my recent book: “TURKEY’S MODERNIZATION:
    Refugees from Nazism and Ataturk’s Vision.”
    Arnold Reisman PhD PE

  2. Paul Fronterhouse Says:

    My wife and I lived in Ankara for two years during which time I worked with Dr. Aytuna. His photographic skills are remarkable, as his great photographs of the monument to the historic figure Atatürk testify. Dr. Aytuna was also an excellent petroleum geologist for our company.

    I was privileged to study and learn a great deal about Atatürk as part of my employment in Turkey, and he was indeed a great man. He had an amazing life and made so many contributions to his country that he is justifiably considered the Father of his country. He is certainly worthy of this amazing photographic monument of him.
    Paul Fronterhouse

  3. Bulent Basol Says:

    Great pictures… Thank you Sezgin… But of course we should also thank the creator of this grand portrate; Mustafa Aydemir, and the 3000 soldiers who worked on it. I myself was part of the team that brought electricity and lights to the large ATATÜRK portrate on a hill in Aydin so that it could be seen at night from every part of the city. I remember the excitement when we first turned the power on and illuminated the hill with ATATÜRK’s image. Mr. Aydemir and his team should be proud of their creation which was brought to the attention of millions by Sezgin Aytuna’s excellent photography.

  4. Hulya Genovese-Ayasun Says:

    Dear Sezgin,
    I congratulate you from the bottom of my heart on this project that you took upon yourself. I expected nothing less of you. Since our childhood you always spearheaded projects and championed the causes. You should know how proud I’m of you.
    I applaud with pride, the Real Türk, Mustafa Aydemir along with all the people who helped to create this monumental portrait of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk despite the rugged terrain and the elements. He gave an invaluable gift to our nation.

  5. Mustafa Aydemir Says:

    Dear Mr. Sezgin,

    I congratulate you as the first person who showed an interest regarding a portrait laid out somewhere on the mountains of his country, albeit 27 years later. Do you realize that not even the Erzincan community has shown any such interest, let alone Turkey as a whole? Naturally, the same lack of interest applies with respect to the person who first thought of it, who was engrossed with it and who finally brought it to realization. As everyone knows, curiosity is the foundation of civilization. We have fallen so far behind in science, exploration, arts, economics and living standards for the very reason that we have failed to develop a spirit of curiosity.

    The portrayal in question was etched on that mountain-side by me in 29 days in 1982 when I was serving short-term in the army. A total of 3000 volunteer soldiers took part in the Project. I do not know what the status may be today, but at the time of its emplacement, it was certainly the biggest of such portraits in the World. Its length is 176 meters and it covers a surface area of 7500 square meters. Just for the dyeing, 100 tons of paint was utilized, each in white and black.

    The interesting aspect of the project, however, was that no money was spent in its realization. The portrait that you have come across represented, actually, only the first part of my dream. Considering the potential moral impact on soldiers and the community alike, I had planned for a picture in-action coupled with sound effects. As such, it would have been a first in the World. Unfortunately, the General Staff could not provide the budget for it, however small, and we had to leave it as-is. Yes! the depiction itself is interesting, but the actual emplacement and its phases are really interesting enough to be the subject of a documentary.

    The Portrait was laid out using limestones collected from all of the 7 surrounding mountains. The mountain itself has a loose-soil base and is uneven and quite steep. As Erzincan happens to be one of our earthquake-prone provinces, the static-engineering measures that I had to take, in order to prevent a sliding of that enormous weight, were probably more important than my proficiency as a painter. I owe the construction of this Portrait, especially to our then-Brigade Commander Hidayet Güngör who has now deceased, believing in me and giving me the opportunity to proceed, as well as, to our then-Battalion Commander Yilmaz Bahar (now retired). And, of course, to the many idealist officers such as Lieutenant Eyüp, as well as, the thousands of soldiers who worked under the harsh mountain conditions.

    When the Portrait was completed, our General signed and handed to me and to my crew our early discharge papers, as a prize. Also, he ordered me to place my signature on the Portrait. For the first time disobeying an order, I refused all of these, and I was discharged only after full completion of my regular time. I had conceived of this Portrait, not for the purpose of receiving a prize, but rather paying, however minimal, a debt to the person to whom we owe our freedom. Besides, considering all those who had so lovingly laid even a stone on it, I did not want to claim it solely for myself. I would do the same again today.

    Mr. Sezgin, there is, of course, a lot more to say about this. I am relaying these to you merely as advance information. I do hope that your idea about a documentary on this becomes reality and our entire Nation becomes aware of the existence of this Portrait.

    Hoping that we meet shortly, I extend my deepest affection and respects to you. Further, it would please very much me to have a reunion with our Lieutenant Eyüp (now a Colonel).


    Mustafa Aydemir

  6. Ferruh Demirmen Says:

    Dear Sezgin,

    Congratulations for bringing this wonderful monument to the attention of others. You deserve a big thank you for your efforts. My heart also goes to the creator of this concept, Mr. Mustafa Aydemir, and those 3000 volunteer soldiers who toiled on the project and made it a reality. The monument is just a small tribute to the memory of a man who was larger than life, and to whom Turks owe so much. It is difficult to comprehend how this man of great vision, of extraordinary foresight, accomplished so much in such a short time.

    Ferruh Demirmen, Ph.D.
    A compatriot geologist

  7. Weldon Beauchamp Says:

    Hi Sezgin,

    You need to take me here next time I am in Ankara. I think that Atatürk is the George Washington of Turkey. People like Atatürk come along rarely and this monument is a unique tribute to him as he helped shape the entire future of a country. I hope that your efforts to make people aware of his contributions are successful. I know can add Turkey to my list of favorite countries. I look forward to going to the field again with you Sezgin.

    Weldon Beauchamp, Dallas,TX,USA

  8. Craig Davis Says:

    Hi Sezgin,

    Great job in bringing this amazing piece of history/art to everyone’s attention. Those that promote freedom should always be remembered. I appreciate your good photography and writting.


    Craig Davis
    Houston, TX USA
    Fellow Geologist

  9. Mazlum Kosma Says:

    Dear Dr. Sezgin Aytuna,

    I served in the military 4 months short term in Erzincan in 1981, but of course there was no portrait then.

    I congratulate all who contributed to realization of this great monument. I also congratulate you for the great photos and your efforts to turn this into a documentary.

    Mazlum (Maz) Kosma
    Turkish American Cultural Association of Georgia
    Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

  10. stan herd Says:

    Hello everyone. I am the artist from Kansas, USA. My first design of a field image, concieved in 1978 and executed in 1981 was of Kiowa Chief Satanta, a native hero of the western United States. The portrait was 160 acres and was published world wide. I think the ATATURK portrait is spectacular. It is very interesting that I had never heard of it until this week. I have created over 30 works around the US and a couple of commercial works in Europe and Australia (to survive financially) I would love to talk to anyone out there about this artform. In some circles, I have been credited with being the pioneer of this (crop art) art form. Certainly many ancient people created wonderful earth designs over the millenia. ATATÜRK work- the portrait is on 1.8 acres . It is 173 meters by 43 meters. Beautifully done though. I am currently working on a portrait serieshopefully to be created around the world of Muslim Scholars from the 8th to 14th century to create a dialogue about the power of Science to change the World for good. Stan Herd

  11. Hulya Genovese-Ayasun Says:

    Here is a bit of information on ATATÜRK that not many people know about. On May 19,1919 Mustafa Kemal ATATÜRK started his campaign to repel the invading foreign forces in Samsun, Turkey. Prior to his sortie, he came to Samsun and stayed at my grandfather’s house with his entourage. My grandfather Remzi Sahin(zade) was a prominent tobacco merchant of that time and was honored to host the commander at his house. In return for this hospitality Mustafa Kemal wrote a thank you note to my grandfather and left his gold fountain pen as a token of his appreciation. He also had his picture taken at the gate of my grandfather’s house and gave it to my grandfather as well. The picture and the handwritten note along with the pen were donated by my family to the Ataturk Museum in Sisli, Istanbul. Copies of his note and the picture are hanging on our family’s walls.

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