PAMUKKALE -March 2007

Pamukkale Travel Blog

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Pamukkale means “cotton-castle” in Turkish and this is an apt description as when one approaches the cliff-face where the terraces of the cascading waters are found they are pure white in colour and resemble huge tufts of cotton that have been spread over the cliff. We drove up to the top of the cliff where the archaeological site of Hierapolis is. Hierapolis was an ancient Phrygian city in southwestern Turkey, about 10 km north of the ruins of Laodicea. Situated on the Coruh River, a tributary of the Buyuk Menderes (Maeander) River, it was probably established by Eumenes II of Pergamum in 190 BC. It became a sacred city (hieron), its chief religious festival being the Letoia, named after the goddess Leto, a local variant of the Great Mother of the Gods, who was honoured with orgiastic rites. There was also a worship of Apollo Lairbenos. Hierapolis was rebuilt during the reign of the Roman emperor Tiberius in approximately AD 14–37 and survived until 1334, when it was abandoned after an earthquake. Extensive ruins, excavated since the 19th century, include baths, a gymnasium, an agora, and a Byzantine church.

We visited Pamukkale and Hierapolis in late evening and we wound our way through the ruins with clouds of dust rising as we shuffled from cluster of buildings towards the amphitheatre and then the museum. Numerous graves of various styles and designs dot the landscape in several necropolises. Many of the ruins of Hierapolis are still not excavated and there is much to keep many an archaeologist busy for quite a few decades of dedicated digging yet. Walking through the ruins one gets an impression of how this ancient spa town must have been like. Several years ago, there were many hotels built around the cliff where the wading pools of Pamukkale are situated. As this caused much damage to the natural formations, all of the hotels were removed, the site cleared and now it is a much better experience to walk up to the pools, take one’s sandals off and wade in the milky blue waters of the “cotton castle”. The waters are reputedly a cure for all sorts of skin conditions and are meant to be excellent in bathing in.

At the site of an old hotel there is a great swimming pool, a little reminiscent of Bath in England, where numerous Roman columns and other remains lie sunken in the clear waters. There is now a park and cafeteria around this pool, while the hotel buildings have been demolished. Entry to the cafeteria is free, but if you wish to bathe there you must pay a small fee. As we walked back to our bus, we saw another magnificent sunset and dinner back at the hotel was enjoyed by all as we were rather peckish after scrambling over many an ancient stone.

We stayed at the Richmond Thermal Resort Hotel close to Hierapolis, which was a four-star hotel .The food was particularly good at this hotel and the buffet-style food at breakfast and dinner was plentiful, varied and of good quality. Drinks were expensive, but not excessively so. The air-conditioner was a noisy and a little ineffectual. However, to offset that, the swimming pool was crystal-clear clean and the thermal pool sufficiently murky and malodorous to know that to was doing one’s body the world of good! Once again, at this hotel we had a wedding being celebrated and we chanced upon the bride and groom being ushered in through a veritable garden of floral tributes (many of which were very much like funeral wreaths, I’m afraid!)…

There was general merriment and mirth at the reception once again, which was celebrated around the pool. Hundreds of guests, live orchestra and singers, folk dancing, fireworks, much money being spent with abandon. The reception went on until 1:00 am or thereabouts and on occasions such as this I am thankful for the pair of earplugs that allowed me to sleep in peace regardless of the ruckus outside.
arlene0725 says:
Merhaba. I love this place. best, Arlene
Posted on: Nov 26, 2007
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photo by: peterbc2