Monday, June 02, 2008

Pamukkale 28 May 2008

Beauty of different sorts

The ancient city bathsThe reason for the early start this morning was that our next stop, Pamukkale was 3-hour’s drive west of Selcuk. Pamukkale; literally “Cotton Castle” is the name given to the calcium terraces formed as the geothermally heated, calcium rich waters flow down a hillside above the town.

The waters have been a ‘health spa’ for centuries drawing the Tombs in the Necropolistourists and the ailing to this spot. In ancient times the settlement was called Hierapolis and because so many sick went there and not all recovered, the cemetery just outside the old city is one of the largest in the world (over a square kilometre), far bigger than would be expected for the size of the city. These two features are the reasons that this area is on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

The 'new' theatreThe problem with the site is that it is very prone to earthquakes and, if you stand at a certain position, the location of the first theatre, built into the hillside and completely destroyed by an earthquake can be clearly seen to the left; while, to the right, the new theatre dominates the view.

Naturally, the current tourist trade provides a steady business for the pool, which charges YTL20 for a 2-hour dip.Cleopatra's Pool The pool is a shady oasis in the hot and dusty surroundings and was bustling even though it was not the peak of the tourist season. The ambience was somewhat spoiled by bodies in bikinis that should, more appropriately be hidden in kaftans. Why someone would wear a bikini when the belly rolls almost obscured the bikini bottom is beyond me; for the sake of delicacy I have spared you a photo.

The calcium terracesNew Zealand lost its famous Pink & White Terraces in the Tarawera eruption of 1886 and so it was great to get an appreciation of what used to be there.

The signs are very confusing; it is not clear whether you are allowed to walk on the terraces or not as they show a boot crossed out and say “Slippery floor”. Enjoying a free dipHowever there is one place where it is clear that you are allowed to wander as there is a path that leads down past some artificially created pools to the village below, and that was the path we took to catch the local bus that would take us to Denizli where our next (and thankfully, last) overnight intercity bus trip departed: a mere 12 hours to Istanbul.

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