Icy weather, hot springs and an ancient city

Day two of our road trip in Turkey aboard our van Frieda: after a cosy sleep despite the chilly weather, we met Jan and Jack for breakfast at their incredibly cute lodgings in Selçuk, Turkey.

The entrance to Jan and Jack’s “boutique” hotel
The hotel was very cute

The breakfast was sumptuous – lots of different cheeses, tomatoes, cucumber, olives, local honey, jams, preserves and copious amounts of delicious breads, fluffy omelettes and endless cups of Turkish tea.

We had a sumptuous breakfast
Stairs leading from the dining room

On the road in cold and misty weather, we headed for Pammukale – famous for its mineral-rich thermal waters flowing down white travertine terraces.

On the road in cold and misty weather

The weather cleared up a little by early afternoon and before long we had arrived in the small and unassuming village of Pammukale where Jan and Jack checked into their hotel.

Whose right of way is it?
A majestic Anatolian Mountain Dog made sure the cows behaved

The beautiful natural rock pools in terraces created by hot springs has been drawing visitors since several centuries BCE. It was a place that I had wanted to visit for a long time.

The beautiful natural rock pools in terraces created by hot springs has been drawing visitors since several centuries BCE

What I hadn’t realised until we arrived was that the Ancient Greek city of Hierapolis was built on a hill directly above the wonderful travertine terraces.

The Ancient Greek city of Hierapolis

As it was quite late in the afternoon, bitterly cold and the ruins extremely extensive, we decided to take advantage of the offer of a lift in a battery powered “cart”.

Our conveyance made us feel a bit crumbly but we were glad of it in the end

The young man who took us round told us that he had trained as a medical technician but had found it hard to find a job in his profession because in Turkey it was very important to have the right contacts (family or friends in “high places”) to make recommendations.

The latrine building off the Main Street

He was very knowledgeable about the well preserved Roman ruins and we enjoyed his commentary as he drove us round.

Our driver was very knowledgeable about the well preserved Roman ruins

He told us that Hierapolis was founded as a thermal spa early in the 2nd century BC and it became an important healing centre where patients suffering all sorts of ailments were treated in the hot mineral spring water.

We stopped at a massive necropolis containing more than 1,200 tombs and sarcophagi – evidently the hot springs didn’t cure everyone!

We stopped at a massive necropolis
One of the many sarcophagi

Our next stop was at a tiny pool covered with a stone lid where we were able to feel the soft, and deliciously warm spring water.

The tiny pool with deliciously warm water

A little further on we alighted from our “wagon” again to walk the magnificent paved Main Street which ran close to a cliff that looked out on to the travertine terraces below.

The paved Main Street of Hierapolis

At both ends of the main street there were monumental gates flanked by square towers built of massive blocks of stone. Nearby was the Domitian Gate – the grand entrance to the Roman city – which had circular towers with three arches. It was all very impressive.

One of the monumental gates at the end
of the Main Street
The Domitian Gate – the grand entrance to the Roman city
One of the round towers that flanked the Domitian Gate

The most spectacular sight for me however, was the fabulous amphitheatre – constructed under the reign of Hadrian after the earthquake of 60 AD.

The fabulous amphitheatre

The facade is a spectacular 300 feet (91 metres) long, the full extent of which still remains standing. In the auditorium there are row upon row of seats which could accommodate 15,000 people. What a magnificent sight!

There were other areas we were unable to see – The temple of Apollo appeared to be closed to visitors and the recently unearthed entrance to the shrine dedicated to Pluto, was still being excavated.

As closing time was nearly upon us we also missed seeing the tomb of St Philip the Apostle but before we left we managed a quick look at the “antique “ pool which was originally one of fifteen frequented by people seeking cures and general good health by bathing in and drinking the waters.

The antique thermal pool

Wisps of steam were rising from the hot waters of the large atmospheric pool. Despite the freezing weather there was one man in the pool enjoying the warm and silky water.

Despite the freezing weather one man was enjoying the pool

As we walked round the perimeter of the pool we noticed pieces of columns and other bits of masonry on the bottom of the pool. Apparently these fragments were a result of an earthquake in the 7th century AD when a marble portico with Ionic arrangement fell into the spring.

The fragments in the pool were a result of an earthquake in the 7th century AD
The remains of a marble portico can
be seen clearly

From the antique pool we travelled the short way to the magnificent travertine terraces.

The top section of the travertine terraces

Since becoming a UNESCO world heritage site in 1988, access to the area has become very strict to protect the travertine terraces. Tourists are only allowed to cross them in bare feet on a designated path. Artificial pools have been constructed in the valley below for bathing.

One of the artificial pools constructed in the valley below for bathing.
Access to the area has become very strict to protect the travertine terraces

It was too cold to peel off our socks and shoes and roll up our trouser legs to walk across the terraces but we were content to walk along a side path to view this amazing phenomenon.

It was too cold to peel off our socks and shoes
We were content to walk along a side path to view this amazing phenomenon

The terraced formation is 2,700 metres (8,860 ft) long, 600 m (1,970 ft) wide and 160 m (525 ft) high and even though it was a cloudy day the terraces shimmered and sparkled like snow.

Even though it was a cloudy day the terraced shimmered and sparkled like snow.
This amazing place became a UNESCO world heritage site in 1988

Jan had done some research and found a great wine bar in the town very close to the hotel.

Jan had found a great wine bar

We enjoyed some delicious local wine sitting as close to the large wood fired stove as we could get.

We sat as close to the large wood fired
stove as we could get

Mouth-watering piping hot Tarhana soup was served before the main meal which was very welcome in such an icy cold night. Tarhana is made by adding vegetables, herbs and spices to yogurt and then letting the mixture dry out and once ready, crushing it to a powder. The powder is mixed with broth or hot water and various seasonings -including fresh mint – are added. Absolutely delightful!

Piping hot Tarhana soup – delicious!

The following day we left for Konya, home of the mystical Sufi dancers. Our journey there took us through the Taurus mountains and we saw lots of snow on the ground although fortunately it didn’t actually snow while we were driving.

On our way to Konya
It was pretty snowy in the mountains
Fortunately it wasn’t snowing while
we were driving
Part of the Taurus Mountain range

There wasn’t any sign of snow when we arrived in Konya – thank goodness. We soon found a nice hotel for Jan and Jack with a car park only a stone’s throw away where we could spend the night.

Another night another cute hotel
The colourful lounge at Jack and Jan’s hotel

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Salty tales from Bali Hai

In 2015, after a break from cruising of almost 30 years, my husband and I sailed off into the sunset - this time to the wonderful Islands of Indonesia and beyond. Three years passed and we swapped sails for wheels driving through Scandinavia and Europe in a motor home. Now we are on the brink of another adventure - buying a Lagoon 420 Catamaran in Athens. This is our story.

2 thoughts on “Icy weather, hot springs and an ancient city”

  1. Great to see this. İt is so icy here today (overnight of 1) I am inspired to make up the Turana I have stored since last year. Thank you for the reminder. AND I have been trying to like your blog- so far I’ve updated my WP non active account log in but can’t seem to like your blog. I’ve spent an hour trying. So I thought I’d tell you in person. .

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    1. Hi Shelley so sorry you had all that trouble trying to like my blog! It’s one of life’s mysteries why it works for some and not for others, sorry I can’t enlighten you further but thanks for trying, much appreciated! Do you mean a Turana as in the classic car? If so, they are worth a lot of money these days!

      Like

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