Travels Through the Ancient World: Pamukkale

The Cliffs of Pamukkale

The Cliffs of Pamukkale


The ancient Roman and Byzantine city of Hierapolis is only a few steps away from one of the great natural attractions in all of the world, a collection of hot springs and travertines in southwestern Anatolia, as seen in the photo below.
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Lots of tourists, but no shoes allowed.

It takes a bit of driving to get there, about twenty minutes once you turn off the highway, and there are no signs per se, but like all of Turkey there are lots of people going about their lives who are happy to give directions, most of which are not helpful, and many of which contradict the previous direction giver, so regardless of my comprehension of Turkish, which is, I am sad to sad to write, still not very good, driving in Turkey is a bit of a challenge. I handled it with grace and good cheer, and by that I mean I grumbled a lot, rolled my eyes, used many bad words in rapid-fire conjunction with one another and complained to both Ferda and whichever of the Gods were willing to listen and sympathize that particular day.

Unless you take the shuttle service, which is for the lazy or those interested only in the natural springs portion of the site, you have to walk about a mile or so through the necropolis before you arrive at the Domitian gates, what was the main entrance to Hierapolis, an impressive structure which brings you to the main thoroughfare of the old city.

The Necropolis at Hierapolis.  Which rhymes.

The Necropolis at Hierapolis. Which rhymes.


The Necropolis, with Pamukkale and the valley below in the background.

The Necropolis, with Pamukkale and the valley below in the background.


Domitian Gate

Domitian Gate


After a good long walk, in the hot sun with no protection from sunscreen, which caused me to hide in the tiny splotches of shade that only rarely presented themselves to me, we got to the theater. Or to the steep incline that led to the theater, to be more accurate. After scaling to great heights, pictures were taken.
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Hierapolis was rebuilt many times throughout its history, mostly because of numerous earthquakes that began in 17 AD and continued to strike all the way through the middle ages, but also occasionally the result of the excesses of the Persian army.

After wandering through the ruins of the ancient city, we descended to Pamukkale, roughly translated as “Cotton Castle”, a tourist attraction itself for thousands of years. Ferda was the first to go in, and I followed not long after.
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The water is nice, sort of a room temperature feel, and the steep cliffs and stone itself is just sharp enough to make footing a matter of some caution. Ferda lamented the sheer number of tourists and development in the area that has and will continue to endanger the long-term health of the area, but it’s hard not to want to go swimming amongst the ruins of the Roman Empire.

The ruins of Hierapolis in the background.

The ruins of Hierapolis in the background.

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