Pamukkale, Turkey, April 2012
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The rule is for everyone remove your shoes when you enter the site. A low price to pay and for many, including myself, an asset to visit one of the 10 sites listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in Turkey: Pamukkale or the literl translation cotton castel. The reason, to help conserve for future generations the impressive white layer of travertine that cascadeover the hillside ofthe archaeological site of the ancient roman city of Hierapolis that islocated on top of the mountain.
And so with bare feet and the cooling sensation of water that slides down the travertines Annika and I enjoyed every step of the climb to the archaeological site. “It looks like snow, but it is not,” was my very intelligent observation that I shared with Annika as I watch with curiosity the stunned eyes of the people walking with us towards the top. None of us, tourists, would lose the opportunity to submerge our feet into the artificial pools located throughout the climb. Such was our curiosity to access all the pools that the entire group was diverted from the road and climbed beyond what is permitted. It was only the whistle of the guard and the movements of his hands that signaled with desesperation that it was forbidden to walk outside the official path. A little embarrassed and as fast as we could, we returned to the official path.
Upon reaching the cusp and enjoying the white and quiet scenery we put our shoes again and set out to discover the ruins of this ancient city. The invaluable attraction of this place has been admired since Roman times not only for its beauty but for it hot springs with healing properties that can be found here. The high calcium content of the water and it’s temperature, locals assure, does wonders for the muscles and tendons. Today, as in the year 190 B.C. since Eumenes II King of Pergamon founded the city, you can immerse yourself in the same ancient pool used by romans located in the heart of this archaeological site. Currently the pool is surrounded by lounge chairs and tables where you can enjoy refreshments after you end up swimming or while you’re watching tourists swim in it and enjoying the healing properties of water.
Close to the pool you may want to enter the Museum of Archaeology of Hierapolis. Near the same road you will also find the ruins of the temple of Apollo and the remains of a Byzantine church. Behind the ancient pool you will also see a must, the spectacular Roman Theater with a capacity to host around 12,000 spectators. The theater build in two stages by the emperors Hadrian and Septimus Severus is a monumental construction worth to admire. “To think that here, you could enjoy a shows and later dip yourself into a hot springs while you eye candy yourself with the white landscapes; talk about the delights of the ancient life! “I said to Annika. Finally we walked westward toward the remains of the agora of the city, one of the largest discovered of this era so far.
A little tired but with our spirits still high, we returned to the travertines where we remove our shoes once again and prepared to go down again and exit the site. As I gave one last look at the magnificent view on top of the mountain I thought, “I never would have ever imagined to walk barefoot on a cotton castle”. Although reality was somewhat different, my imagination had proved me right.