We have been so incredibly lucky with the weather during our trip. Rain is not uncommon this time of year, and we haven’t seen a drop…and it has been HOT! Hot, hot, hot!
Our sightseeing today was to Pamukkale and Hierapolis. Though these are technically two different sites they are in exactly the same area.
First we explored Pamukkale, home to famous and beautiful travertine terraces. it is easy to see how Pamukkale, which means “cotton castle” got its name.
These terraces form when water from the hot springs loses carbon dioxide as it flows down the slopes leaving limestone deposits…beautiful layers of white calcium carbonate (limestone) build up.
Within the terraces (which are off limits to viewers) are these beautiful pools.
There are a couple of large pools at the top of the terraces open to wading. Here is a wonderful photo of me wading and of the injury I sustained walking around the rocks.
Luckily for me, these hot springs are good for what ails you! This sign lets me know that my stubbed toe will probably heal without a problem (though I did put a band aid on it). After all, if the water can heal rickets, what can it do for a minor cut?
Part of Pamukkale is open to swimming.This area is the hot springs – why anyone wants to get into hot springs on such a blistering day is beyond me, but some of our group did enjoy the water. Oh, and YES, those are real Roman ruins at the bottom of this pool. Unbelievable.
Those of us who wanted to walk with Ender through Hierapolis got together. The choice was to stay around the pools and take a shuttle back to the bus, or to walk with him in a guided experience through the site. Seven of us hearty (fool hardy is more like it) souls decided to walk – did I mention it was really HOT??
Because we were such a small group, Ender took us on a path that he doesn’t usually follow with larger groups. I felt like we were bushwhacking a couple of times which was awesome.
First, a little background about Hierapolis. Called “Thermopolis” in the Bible it is a larger site than Ephesus which we’ll explore tomorrow. ‘Hierapolis’ means “Holy City” and in the Book of Revelations is referred to as receiving one of the “7 letters of Asia Minor.” I can’t remember what that means, so if you know, drop me a line and I’ll add the information.
The size of Hierapolis is because it is home to the largest surviving Roman necropolis. The whole of the city is surrounded by cemeteries, In fact the number of tombs is greater than its population because people came here to be buried. They believed there was easier access to the Underworld because of the grotto (“Plutonium”) dedicated to Pluto. This grotto for the God of the Underworld emitted sulfur gas. People would see these gasses rising, most of those who got into the gas would die or become ill; hence it was a gateway to the underworld.
As with any good town, you entered through the main thoroughfare, a wide street called the Plateia. Here in Hierapolis you come in through the Arch of Domitian.
What we explored today was the Northern Necropolis (remember, I told you there were at least 3 large graveyards surrounding the town). The Northern Necropolis is the largest ancient graveyard in Anatolia with over 1200 tombs! There are graves from the Hellenistic, Roman and Christian eras.
The tomb types ranged from circle tombs (right), shown here, that encased families (kind of a mausoleum) all buried in the same structure)
to sarcophagi (below). and simple tucked away tombs like this one (lower right).
There was a large Jewish population in this area, and the graveyard was not segregated in any way. Notice the menorah type symbol carved into the stone on this tomb.
Some of the tombs were for a specific purpose. I put together this very short descriptive video of the Tomb of the Gladiators. I hope you enjoy it. Click on the black box, then click on the left (go) arrow.
I know it was completely inappropriate, but as I was walking amidst all the tombs, I wanted to sing “Bring out your dead.” AKA Monty Python. I chalked it up to the heat making me goofy.
Here is Mary plugging away hiking among the dead. She said if she’d gotten much hotter she would have joined them.
Happily, she made it and here she and Stan are sharing her fan.
All kidding (and whining) aside, this was a great visit! I haven’t even talked about the ruins of the theater or the Martyrium of St Philip. Amazing sites, amazing history, amazing country.
Back on the bus…heading to Izmir (Smyrna), the home of Homer and Turkey’s 3rd largest city with a population of 3+ million residents. Until tomorrow…