Standing at the crossroads of two continents, Turkey has been a prized possession of the world’s great empires in the ancient times. Nowadays, tourism is its growing industry particularly along the Mediterranean coastline where many vacation resorts are being built. I had the great opportunity to visit Pamukkale in 2011 when my best friend Aaliyah and her sister brought me along to enjoy this awesome place in Turkey. It was my first time to travel outside America and I was so excited to see and experience its attractions, taste the food, know the people and their culture.
Once we reached Istanbul International Airport, we took another flight to Denizli Airport to reach the Pamukkale Region. We arrived early morning and we immediately began our tour with a visit to the Pamukkale Thermal Pools. On the slopes I have already admired from afar one of the world’s most beautiful natural wonders. Is it snow or salt? No, actually it is limestone! And the show was great up to our expectations. Captured by the beauty of this site we can not help but dip our feet in the natural pools. The experience was magical, a gentle happiness, warm and delicate, almost muffled! With its healing hot springs and travertine, which is a “cure for every sorrow”, this attraction is one of the tourism paradises in Turkey. It is said to have a curative effect on people with rheumatism, heart disease, gastro-intestinal diseases, calcified vessels, blood pressure and skin diseases. The sinter terraces are a fascinating spectacle and definitely worth seeing. From here we went to the nearby cool waters of the Cleopatra Pools. If there is paradise on earth this is his branch! The pool itself makes a huge impression – pure water, rocks, and marble columns at the bottom and around the palm trees, flowering trees and flower beds. Bathing between real Roman columns and thru the clear warm water was absolutely unique. I recommend going there in the evening for lesser crowds and privacy.
The next day we visited the large and well maintained Amphitheatre. We were impressed by this attraction as it is very large and beautifully situated with a great view of the valley. Located just above the Hierapolis Ruins its steep climb was worth the effort once we see the whole of Denizli on top. The ongoing work and renovation somewhat spoilt our visit but the site is still impressive. We had enough courage to climb the stairs under the sun but it was refreshing to see an ancient theater with a wonderful acoustic. The amphitheatre is near the entrance to the city located on a hill and a kilometer away from the pools. At the stairs, I was trying to picture in my mind how the ancient people are looking down watching a show and at the same time admiring the view of the whole town. We explored the entire arena on foot and its landscape is very pleasant. It is one of the best preserved Greco-Roman amphitheatres I have seen so far. The place looked more beautiful as we view the sunset from the top.
On our third day we get to explore the whole region on board a coaster shuttle of the Road to Pamukkale. We found our way through town admiring the surrounding villages and historic buildings of Pamukkale. The bitumen roads were very recently installed when we passed there. The road signs were strategically placed, city entries were covered in flowers and shrubs, and many fruit sellers on the road. It shows a modern Turkey, developed with some new plants and fields covered with crops, olive, and fruit trees. The excellent condition of the Izmir Road was much better than I was expecting. Along the road we passed by the Anatolia Cemetery. It is the largest necropolis Turkish area where prehistoric bombs and ruins can be found. The cemetery is shocking! Each coffin is wonderful and the ruins itself are worth the visit. Inside we saw ruins of an old city and an ancient church.
The following day was spent touring the old Byzantine Church. I was a bit scared to enter as the place was a little secluded. It was fun exploring the ruins of a church steeped in cultural history. After learning a bit of Turkish history we head next to the Pamukkale National Park. It is a park located at the foot basins of Pamukkale. It is free of charge and has a beautiful lake. We loved the pools and had enough time to walk around the park where the crowds are always busy. The place is laced with beautiful gardens and shaded picnic areas. We also took time to visit a small village with shops, fine restaurants, and small resorts. At the top we ate and drink at one of the self-service restaurants. There was also a very interesting middle of the village mosque which is open for tourists and locals. Because the weather was very good during the time of our visit the light blue coming out of the water and the contrast of the white and bright blue sky gave a picturesque view of the nature park. We took tons of pictures with the beautiful light blue and white limestone as our background.
We were delighted as we explore a memorial to Pluto, God of the underworld the Plutonium. A spring bath place found inside the caves but now is off limits to tourists and locals. We only had the chance to take pictures on the blocked off archway and hear the rustling of the waters behind the closed caves. However this does not distract tourists from flocking the place to take pictures and learn the history of the place. This attraction was built way even before the second century. We then head next to the Nymphaeum at Apollo Temple. It is a shrine dedicated to the nymphs that has now become a landmark fountain attraction that supplies clean tap water to the main city. The structures of what was left of the Nymphaeum are now lined with iconic statues of famous saints and heroes from Turkey.
Our fifth day was filled with a thrill riding adventure at the Pamukkale Hijackers. Taking our jump off point at the valley, we got to fly all over Pamukkale and see the limestone terraces and the old ruins from above as we tried the Tandem Paragliding ride. Before the ride I was prodded with so much convincing and they laugh when I reply that I have a plan to go back home alive. Once all geared up and seeing my friends have gone ahead of me, pushed me to follow suit and just enjoy the thrill of the ride. It was exhilarating but I had the most breathtaking view of the whole region. All of this was brilliantly captured on their HD camera and we were handed a DVD copy after our soaring experience over Pamukkale. After the ride we were still elated, shaking but smiling. Flying is one dream I always wanted to make true but I have fear of heights before the experience. It was fun to conquer my fears and assure myself that it is actually doable.
Our tour of Pamukkale was a thrilling journey that allowed each one of us to know our limitations and strengths. I learned that this region has a rich history of its ancient past hidden behind its ruins. I felt that if walls could only talk it would say so much about a bygone era of bravery and heroism. I learned from our holiday tour that fear can be conquered if one sets their mind to do it. I am happy to explore Pamukkale with my best friend our friendship bond has become stronger since we got back from our tour.