Pamukkale: Travertines, Sculptures, Sarcophagi

6 November 2009

Dear Family and Friends,

I had a wonderful stay in Pamukkale.

The Travertines are unique.* And while I was climbing up the slightly treacherous hillside and wading through the pools, I met a young Japanese woman. She encouraged me to keep climbing and when we reached the top we strolled around the ruins of the Hierapolis together. ** Finally we visited the Hierapolis Archeological Museum. ***

On my own the next day, a rainy day, I traveled to Afrodisias.**** The site is splendid, but I spent much of the time juggling my umbrella and my camera while trying, sometimes unsuccessfully, to keep the lens dry.

Someone must have been watching over me. During my visit to Afrodisias, the rain abated for a moment and a rainbow appeared – the most beautiful rainbow I have ever seen.

Now, my friends, I am not "smoking" anything at all, but I must confess that at the Hierapolis Museum, and especially at Afrodisias, the faces on the ancient sculptures are still so compelling that I thought that they were "speaking" to me!

Perhaps they will speak to you too. I will let my photos speak for themselves.


The Venus Hotel was welcoming, warm and cozy.  The walls are covered with an array of Kilim rugs.


* Pamukkale. "The restorative qualities of the calcium-rich waters of the town of Pamukkale ('Cotton Castle') have a centuries-old reputation. The travertine (calcium carbonate) shelves and pools above the town were created when warm mineral water cooled and deposited calcium as it cascaded over the cliff edge. The Romans built a large spa city, Hierapolis, to take advantage of the water's curative powers."

** Hierapolis. The full name is Hierapolis of Phrygia. "Founded around 190 BCE by Eumenes II, king of Pergamum, Hierapolis was a cure center that prospered under the Romans and even more under the Byzantines, when it gained a large Jewish community, and an early Christian congregation. Sadly, after recurrent earthquakes regularly brought disaster and after a major tremor in 1334, the city was abandoned."

*** Hierapolis Archeological Museum. "Housed in what once were Roman baths, the museum has three sections: one housing sarcophagi, another with small finds from Hierapolis and Afrodisias, and in the third, friezes and Roman-era statuary from the Afrodisias school."

**** Afrodisias. "Excavations have proved that the Afrodisias acropolis is a prehistoric mound built up by successive settlements from around 5000 BCE. From the 6th Century BCE its famous temple was a popular pilgrimage site, but it wasn't until the 2nd or 1st Century BCE that the village grew into a town that steadily prospered. By the 3rd Century CE, Afrodisias was the capital of the Roman province of Caria, with a population 15,000 at its peak. However, under the Byzantines, the city changed substantially: the steamy Temple of Aphrodite was transformed into a chaste Christian church and ancient buildings were pulled down to provide stone for defensive walls (c. CE 350)."

All quotations from: "Turkey." Lonely Planet Publications Pty Ltd 2009. pp 322-328.


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