Saturday, 16 June 2012

Pamukkale and Hierapolis

The tour minibus picked us up at 9.30 am. Three young Aussie backpackers on board, two Brazilians, two Chinese, two Koreans and three east Europeans. First we went to see some iron rich springs where the water bubbles out of the ground at 46 degrees C and the iron is deposited as a red concretion. There were a few people soaking in the hot pools which are supposed to treat all sorts of skin conditions and have been used for that purpose for thousands of years.

Then we walked through what remains of the ancient city of Hieropolis which was a Roman spa town and then a Byzantine one. We entered the town through the necropolis or graveyard via a Roman road that is 2200 years old and still has the original paving stones though it is in about the same condition than some of the roads we rode on yesterday.

Our guide explained the 3 types of tombs that were used by the Romans, sarcophagi, house type and tumuli.

The rich had their sarcophagus placed in a high plinth.

House type that was used a a family tomb

Tumulus type also used as a family tomb

Then we walked into the old town via the town gate. Most of the town has been destroyed by regular earthquakes. There was a force 6 on the Richter scale just yesterday.

The large building on the left past the gate was the 2nd century latrine (toilet) and the bathhouse where everyone entering the city, rich, poor or slave had to bathe because of the high proportion of people coming to this town with infections and conditions that they hoped would be cured by the mineral waters. The bath-house was an attempt to control infections.

In another bathhouse in the old town is located a museum containing various treasures they have found in archaeological digs on the site, including some very ornate sarcophagi, pottery, sculptures, friezes, etc.

Walking out of the other side of town we came to the calcium carbonate springs of Pamukkale. This water is 36 degrees C and again it has been used for thousands of years as a health cure, particularly in Roman times when there were 15 bathhouses.

The calcium carbonate comes out of solution as it runs over the slopes and forms the white rock called travertine. Today it is visited by thousands of tourists every day. The name Pamukkale means cotton castle in Turkish, so called because the travertine looks like cotton wool.

By the time we finished the tour and went for the late lunch that was included in the deal the temperature had soared to 43 degrees C.

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