Ruins and Waterfalls
Trip Start Apr 04, 2007
115Trip End Oct 22, 2007
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Today we were in Pammukale, known for the ruins of Hierapolis, and the spectacular terraces that they reside upon. As you drive into Pammukale you look to the side and see these huge hills covered in what looks like snow from a distance. Absolutely covered from top to bottom. As you get closer you realize it's not snow!
The town of Pammukale is tiny and essentially totally in existence due to tourism. The terraces are a world heritage site, and since becoming so, the town has seen a huge boom. We left our hotel (our accommodation thus far has been amazing) and dashed past restaurant owners running after us with their cards yelling for us to come to their shop after. We quickly learned how to say no thank you but when that doesn't work you just walk away quickly. We walked up the terraces (you are required to do it in bare feet so your shoes don't ruin them) which had a few stony bits but mostly it was very nice.
Most major tour sites require you to use a Turkey Certified guide ($$) but fortunately this site didn't, so Mustafa, our Imaginative guide that has been with us the whole way, was able to take us around the site a bit. After some fun visits to the gates and what were the public toilets (literally - you sat around on a bunch of wholes together and chatted with whoever was next to you... no, no walls) we decided to explore for awhile on our own. Due to the different Empires that ruled the area, there are several styles of ruins dating back to each Empire. We climbed our way through Greek Theatre grounds and Agoras, Byzantine churches, Roman fountains and defences, and eventually up to the huge theatre.
The site is HUGE. Much of it un-excavated. You can see bits of what used to be the city covering the whole hillside and you aren't quite sure where it ends. From atop the theatre we spotted some substantial ruins where no one was going. We decided we'd give it a go! So after picking our way through some thorny bushes and some less used paths, we found ourselves at the Church of St. Phillip (it previously was a Temple of Apollo) with gorgeous views across the Ruins, the Terraces, the town, AND the snow capped mountains in the background. The church was amazing, incredibly preserved and you could really see some of its former glory, carvings still in the stone and items such as pedestals for worship still in place.
This day really felt like the first day we actually got to go and trek off on our own and go and our own speed, seeing something outside the planned tourist trail. We were exhausted by the end of the day, having walked for hours in the sun, but loved every minute of it. After, we chilled with our tour group mates at the restaurant in our hotel (a bunch of cushions low to the floor and some small tables) and had some dinner. All in all, a great day.