|Pamukkale - Cotton Mountain from our hotel|
Next morning we visited the ruined Anatolian city of Heirapolis. Dating from the 3rd century BC and now a Unesco world heritage site, the city became famous as a spa with mineral waters believed to cure many diseases. As a consequence the necropolis, or graveyard, is huge - the curative waters didn't always work! - with some of the best and biggest tombs we have seen.
|Tombs in the vast necropolis at Heirapolis|
|Theatre with new excavations beyond|
The theatre with seating for 5000 and with panoramic views over the countryside, was built in 129AD for a visit by Hadrian. It has undergone a lot of restoration but is still a work in progress. Covering a vast area, only a portion of which has been excavated, the city, at it's height, was home to 100,000 and, during the Roman period, was famous as a centre for the arts, philosophy and trade. The apostle, Philip, lived the later part of his life in Hierapolis and was martyred there in 80AD. The city was ransacked by Persian armies in the 7th century and during its history suffered from several major earthquakes, the final one leading to its abandonment in the 14th century. There are some marvellous examples of ornate sarcophagi and statuary from the site in the Big Bath Museum located in the ruins of the bath house (2nd century AD).
|Starting the walk down the silica terraces|
We spent some time wandering the city before making our way to the modern hot thermal pools at the top of the Pamukkale Travertines, or terraces. The pools were crammed with bathers and holiday makers. It was suffocatingly claustrophobic so we beat a hasty retreat to begin the downhill walk on the silica terraces.
|Walking the Pamukkale Travertines|
To preserve the surface all walkers are required to remove their shoes and walk barefoot. We thought it would be slippery but it wasn't, there was plenty of grip. It was a good sensation walking in the warm flowing mineral water past terraced pools of bright aqua.... dazzling, surreal and beautiful. Even walking on the terraces it was hard to comprehend that it was not snow. It took us about half an hour from top to bottom but we really didn't want the walk to end. At the bottom we put our shoes back onto feet, smooth, soft and relaxed from this free spa treatment and boarded our bus for our next destination, Selcuk.
P.S. The Hotel, Tal-Hur, was excellent with eager to please staff and good bathrooms it was one of the better hotels we stayed in in Turkey.