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PAMUKKALE & HIERAPOLIS, THEN ON TO ANTALYA


With a half a day’s touring ahead of us and a 4-hour drive to Antalya, our check out of Nisanyan House was at 08:00 on the dot. Struggling with our heavy luggage over the uneven cobblestone pathway outside our cottage, we were relieved to make it to our vehicle with our arms, shoulders and lower backs intact. Saying our goodbyes to a very special place, we promised ourselves another visit to Nisanyan House should we return to Turkey.

The day had something delightful in store for us in the form of our tour guide, Nizamettin Adsiz. With a chutzpah and devastating sense of humour and a killer timing, Nizam had us in hysterics from the get go. As a result, our group relaxed in no time and became incredibly cohesive under his watch.

Deriving from springs in a cliff almost 200 metres high overlooking the plain of Cürüksu in south-west Turkey, calcite-laden waters have created an unreal landscape, made up of mineral forests, petrified waterfalls and a series of terraced basins. Given the name of Pamukkale, meaning “Cotton Palace”, this extraordinary landscape was a focus of interest for visitors to the nearby Hellenistic spa town of Hierapolis, founded by the Attalid kings of Pergamom at the end of the 2nd century B.C., at the site of an ancient cult. Pamukkale has been declared a World Heritage Site.  

Within the same vicinity, we were shown the Christian monuments of Hierapolis , erected between the 4th and the 6th centuries. Constituting an outstanding example of an Early Christian architectural group with a cathedral, baptistery and churches, t he city was a thriving trading center in ancient times.

Hierapolis is an exceptional example of a Greco-Roman thermal installation established on an extraordinary natural site. The therapeutic virtues of the waters were exploited at the various thermal installations, which included immense hot basins and pools for swimming. Hydrotherapy was accompanied by religious practices, which developed in relation to local cults. 

Speaking of hydrotherapy, our group had 1 hour and 45 minutes to spare. We were given the option of A) walking around the travertine terraces, B) swimming in the thermal pools, or C) sticking our feet in tubs filled with tiny little fish that nibbled at our dead skin. With searing temperatures making a walk unbearable, and figuring that the little fish would have literally had a gut full of dead skin from dozens of feet that they’d been feeding on all day, Peter and I chose to swim in the thermal pools. Dodging beached whales in bikinis and exhibitionists in G-strings, it was a spin out wading over ancient Roman columns. After 20 minutes, however, the overly-warm 25 degree waters were hardly refreshing and we decided to call it quits. Drying ourselves off in the sun, we changed back into our clothes and grabbed an ice cream instead before re-joining our group. At the end of our tour, Peter and I exchanged business cards and Facebook names with several members of the group and said our goodbyes to the amazing Nazim before being transferred (along with our luggage) to a private vehicle for the monotonous four-hour drive to Antalya. 

Located on the Mediterranean coast of southwestern Turkey, Antalya is Turkey's biggest international sea resort, located on the Turkish Riviera. The city was founded as "Attaleia", named after its founder Attalos II, King of Pergamon. In 2013, Antalya became the third most visited city in the world by number of international arrivals, ranking behind Paris and London, respectively. 

Upon arrival in Antalya, our driver dropped us off at our hotel in Kaleici, the old district of Antalya. Located seaside upon the site of the ancient Roman harbor, the neighborhood of Kaleici is a maze of narrow streets and passages brimming with old Ottoman houses-turned-boutique hotels and ancient historical structures: the clock tower, the old city walls, Hadrian's gate, the late 14th century Grooved Minaret and the unique Iskele Mosque. With its streets and lane ways packed with cafes, restaurants and craft and souvenir stalls, Kaleici boasts superb views of the mountains and sea. 

But the mountains and sea would have to wait. Exhausted from the day’s activities, we peeled ourselves from the seat of our car and struggled with our luggage to the Tuvana Hotel’s reception desk. Taking the rest of our strength to check into our room, all we could manage for dinner was an in-house pizza and a beer.

Posted by Victoria Ugarte on 1st October, 2014 | Trackbacks
Categories: Turkey
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