An October 1997 trip
to Pamukkale by Re Carroll
Quote: We journeyed to Pamukkale to see the hot springs pools but found there is more to this town than that.
I couldn’t wait to get into my own private "hot tub" and relax, just like the people in the posters.
Unfortunately, when we got to Pamukkale, I was disappointed to discover that these natural pools were no longer accessible to the public and my hot tub fantasy wasn’t going to happen.
Luckily, we discovered that there is more to Pamukkale than its natural beauty. Our overnight stay in Pamukkale’s old town revealed interesting shops and restaurants with good food and great prices.
Across the road from the cliffs, the ancient site of Hierapolis is smaller and much less
dramatic than nearby Ephesus but also less commercialized and definitely worth a visit.
Our room was on the second floor and was very large with high ceilings. It was a bit run down and sparsely furnished but was clean and had a double bed, large closet and private bathroom. The bathroom was small but had a shower with lots of hot water.
The hotel had a small swimming pool but we didn't use it. From the rooftop balcony, one floor above ours, we had a view of the limestone terraces that Pamukkale is famous for.
The family was friendly but unobtrusive and since they lived on site, they made sure we had everything we needed.
The area around the hotel was very quiet at night and it was great to sit on the balcony and star gaze.
Breakfast was included in the price but since my hubby wasn't feeling well, we didn't bother with it.
Many restaurants and shops were located close by and the walk to the entrance of the terraced pools was about 15 minutes.
There didn't seem to be many other people staying at the hotel - possibly because it was later in the season and also because many tourists choose to stay on the hill, near the pools.
By the way, we never did learn the street address and the hotel's business card doesn't list it either. Probably the best bet to find the hotel would be to check out the bus station and hopefully, one of the family members will be there.
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In the 2nd and 3rd centuries, the city was at the height of its prosperity. The calcium salts in the water were used to
help set dyes and fabrics made in Hierapolis were in great demand. There was also a quarry that exported marble found nearby. Of course, the mineral springs brought many travelers who were either looking for cures to their physical ailments or just wanted to relax in the hot springs.
Major earthquakes destroyed the city in 17 AD and again in 60 AD and the site fell into decay. Regular excavations started here in the 1950s. Most of the ruins are from the Roman times and
much of it looks like rubble but the large limestone and marble theater is in pretty good shape considering it is thousands of years old. In its heyday it could hold up to 20,000 people who came to watch plays or musical contests.
Just outside the city walls, is the necropolis (cemetery) which has a variety of tombs and funeral monuments.
On the day we visited, the site was not busy at all and it was quite nice to explore without crowds of people. The site is easy
to find because it is on the plateau above town, just across from the terraced pools.
top of the Pamukkale hill
We still wanted to see them as up close and personal as possible so we paid the minimal admission fee (just a few dollars each), took off our
shoes as requested and proceeded to walk up the steep path beside the pools. Between the pebbly path and the heat of the day we were glad to get to the top and enjoy the views over the valley. Along the way, we noticed guards stationed at various points to ensure
that people stayed away from the pools and remained barefoot, although the guards all wore
shoes - go figure! Once at the top, we followed in single file along a cordoned off area to a section of the plateau partly filled with warm mineral water that we were allowed to sit in. Since this was the only area open to the public, it was quite busy and took away the romance of the pools, at least for us.
Also at the top of the plateau, a large restaurant and lots of small kiosks selling souvenirs, clothing, jewelry, etc. make a nice place to take a break. The informal
restaurant has cement replicas of the pools set in rows to divide the upper and lower level. As well as being popular with people who wanted to get a meal or relax with a cold drink after the hot climb, it was also a popular spot for local cats to sit and soak up the sun and whatever tidbits the tourists offered them. Nearby, a couple of motels have pools that are filled with water from the hot springs and one has submerged columns from the ancient site. Anyone is welcome to use
the pools although I’m not sure what the admission fee is.
For those not wanting to make the barefoot climb, there is a winding road from town that leads to the top of the plateau and there are lots of taxis for hire.
Also called lokum, they have been a staple of Turkish desserts for centuries. Originally, it was made with dates, honey, roses and gum and was used to sweeten the breath.
Modern day lokum is made from sugar, corn starch and gum and comes in a large selection of flavors. Many varieties contain nuts like pistachios,
almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, etc. Another traditional flavor is rose water which has a very "perfumey" taste that takes some getting used to. The candies are rolled in coconut or sprinkled with powdered sugar which makes a mess but it’s a mess worth making. My favorites were pistachio and many of the fruit flavored ones, like peach and banana.
This is a very popular
hostess gift throughout Turkey. Many stores sell lokum and the best ones let you try before you buy. We found one store that advertised a free box with every five sold – naturally we had to take advantage of that deal. The plan was to give most of it away as gifts when we returned home but I think we ate more than we gave away.
I’ve since found lokum in some of the
Middle Eastern grocery stores in Vancouver but the selection of flavours are limited and they don’t seem to be as good. Could that be because the local stuff doesn’t come with a view of the sun setting over Pamuakkale?
Abbotsford, British Columbia