Pamukkale – Hot Springs and Roman Ruins

Another. Night. Bus. Nearing the end of my tolerance for sleep disruption we set off again on another goddam night bus. We arrived in Pammukale at some ungodly hour of the morning when it was still dark. Staggering into our hotel we dealt with the pretty useless reception guy and managed to get keys to our rooms and I coma’d out in seconds.

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Pammukale is basically a giant hot springs area which over thousands of years has left behind calcium terraces and hot pools. It looks pretty fucking sweet and apparently the Romans also thought this and decided it would be the perfect location to build a huge city and spa complex called Hierapolis. So along with the epic natural sights it’s possible to explore the ruins of the old city which are fairly well preserved because when the Romans left, the hot springs encased most of the city in calcium. The Turks, always seeing the chance for the tourism dollar, spent years jackhammering the city back to the surface.

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Waking refreshed (surprisingly) we only had a few hours to see all of the hot springs and city before moving onto Selcuk. It didn’t take long to walk to the base of the springs and as we walked around a corner to see them for the first time we were stunned. The scale of the place was just so unexpected. Stretching for hundreds of meters along the side of a mountain the springs spill over the side of an escarpment and waterfall down the side in a cloud of steam.

When you reach the edge of the national park you have to take off your shoes to stop the white terraces getting stained and then you are free to walk up the side of the mountain and wade in the warm water. It was a freezing morning so I spent most of the walk jumping from pool to pool trying to find the hottest water to relax in, this combined with the decent walk meant that we were ready for a celebration beer at the top. The perks of travelling.

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There isn’t a whole lot left of Hierapolis. What is there is well preserved and they have reconstructed as much of the ruins as possible so you can get a great idea of how the spa complex, theatre and main street would have been back in the heyday. Everything else they have left in massive piles of spares that sort of remind me of a lego set that’s missing all the important bits. The highlight of the ruins is definitely the Roman Theatre which is really close to being complete and we spent a bit of time just sitting at the top of it appreciating how impressive it is.

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That afternoon we were on the move again to Selcuk.. But something is not right. We are waiting in our hotel and the transfer bus never arrives. An hour passes and now we are really starting to wonder what’s going on because the main bus would have left by now leaving us stranded. Right when we were about to start making noise a mini-bus arrives with a few other tourists! We later work out that the hotel must have pocketed the money for the big bus and given the job to some mates. Somehow after all this we get dropped off at the door of the next hostel one hour early!


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