Day 8: The Tombs of Hierapolis

I slept wonderfully last night. The weather was great, the bed was extra cozy, and a view that took you over the mountains. The night before the owner had told me to just knock on his door downstairs for breakfast. Why? Their home is the entire first floor. Breakfast was in their kitchen. It was just me in the dining area and no one else. The owner’s wife was cooking in the kitchen while I nibbled on olives, toast, and something else that’s very Turkish which I can’t remember, probably a slice of tomatoe or cucumber. As I was wrapping up, the wife slapped a HUGE omellette on my plate with a bunch of honey, butter and strawberry packets. WOW. Best breakfast so far. HOT food! I’ve definitely taken hot food for granted. Now if we can just get this bread warmed up… it’s always so cold everywhere I go.

After breakfast and great conversation with the kids and the lady of the house, I headed to Pamukkale. No scooters for rent in Pamukalle, to small of a town I guess. The south entry to the mountains are closed because of construction, so I started my walk to the north entry which was a 4km walk from my position. It was difficult. Try walking up a steep mountain with a 15lb backpack on your back, a lonely planet guide in your right hand, and no idea of where to go because no one speaks English.

Here, the universal language of hand gestures prevails!

I spent at least 30 minutes looking for the mountains or a way to get to them even though they were directly in front of me. Eventually, I saw a bus making its way towards me and I took me straight to the site for 1 lira. Just like in Ephesus, it drops you on the side of the road, but the walk wasn’t that bad.

The place was deserted. That means no noisy tourists, no crowds, and above all, no kids (I don’nt dislike kids, but the yelling and the screaming takes away from reflective aspect of checking out ruins). In fact, it was so deserted there was no one to take the entrance fee. No one at all. 5 liras saved! Woo hoo!

The first thing I saw was the necropolis (ancient burial ground) of heirapolis. It left me in awe for a little bit. Tombs upon tombs upon tombs, amazing in size, and equally pitiful in achievement. As far as I could see, there were tombs laying around everywhere.

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A little background on the city. Heirapolis was a pivotal city in the Roman empires Asian sector. It was very rich and they produced many of the tombs that were spread around the empire. They specialized in something, I just don’t remember what. There were up to 200,000 people living in the city at any given time. How was it destroyed? Just like Epheses, several earthquakes, until the people decided to pack up and just leave. The tombs themselves were abandoned and left to the mercy of graverobbers and later to archaelogists.

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Tomb with sarcophagus on top. The bodies would be layed on platforms on the inside of the tomb while the empty sarcaphogus would be lifted to the top.

Such a huge city as you’ll see from my pictures, first ruled by the Romans, then by the Byzantines, and then by the Muslims, but look how God leveled this city over and over again, just as he destroyed the people before them. They built up enormous statues glorifying themselves, tombs to venerate their life, and massive buildings attempting to show Roman might and wisdom to the people attempting to praise the current rulers of their time through the architecture and inscriptions… and for what?

All ravished by earthquakes, robbers, and thieves. Hierapolis, once a pivotal portion of the Roman empire, now lay in ruins. But wait, it still stands. There are still the tombs, and the columns, and even the theater. They were, undoubtedly, skilled in construction, but I don’t believe these ruins lay here today because of that. I think these ruins lay here to remind us as to humble ourselves and remember our purpose in life.

After Hierapolis, I went to see the travertines. The white mountains. The water is filled with calcium and boiling hot. You’ve seen this formation before, and you’ve probably seen it in the garden beds of your home. It’s those white rocks that look like mini crystals and when you hold them your skin gets really dry.

Basically, overtime, water poured down the mountains and eroded small pools on the side forming the famous traverntine pools. It’s supposedly good for your skin, but tourists haven’t been allowed to wade in the pools for over a decade now because of the damage its caused to the natural habitat.

Not much to see except the great view, some pools, and white rock. Trekking down the mountain was easy and instead of going back to the north entry I figured out a way to get home through the closed south entry (wasn’t guarded).

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View of the pools.

 

At the bottom of the mountain, I saw a lady and her two children making bread and she convinced me to stop by and eat at her place by saying the following, “Bread, spinach, cheese… you want?” That was enough for me. The inside was decorated in what seemed to be traditional Turkish décor, and there were no chairs. Only pillows, and I had to take off my shoes upon entry. Food was pretttty decent.

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Afterwards I headed back to the hotel to get to the otogart in Denizli. On the way stopped by a restraunt owned by some japanese lady and her husband. Her story like many other ex-pats, married a Turk, moved here, started business. She had really good smelling shiwarmas so I grabbed one. The spinach thing was anything, but filling but a good experience nonetheless. For 3 liras the sandwich was a bargain and very filling. I grabbed my bus ticket from the hotel owner and headed off to the otogart in a dolmush (a mini-bus), to catch a bus to Fethiye (a city off the Meditteranean).

I forgot to book a hotel, and after arriving in Fethiye, I wandered around aimlessly until I could find something with a good view of the lake. No one bargained here. The prices were fixed so I chose by the best view (all of them had the best view), and eventually by who spoke the most English.

The Yacht Marina Hotel it is! Great view of the bay and they gave me a double.

Tomorrow: The beaches of Oludeniz.

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