Ruins of Hierapolis - Part 2
Marble Portico, block built with travertine stones.
All these ruins to explore!
Different flower motifs.
Ruins of Temple Nymphaeum.
Nymphaeum of the Tritons.
Column of the former Temple of Apollo.
The Frontinus Street.
The Basilica Bath.
Since this is a spa town, lots of retirees came here to spend their remaining lives.
Thus Hierapolis has a huge necropolis.
So many different styles of tombs.
Definitely spend some time in the necropolis when you’re in Hierapolis, it’s bout a kilometer away from Cleopatra’s Pool. There is also a free shuttle that you could also utilise.
Ruins of Hierapolis - Part 1
The ancient city of Hierapolis was founded as a spa town where abundant hot springs flow to form the white travertines below.
Founded by the Greeks and later expanded by the Romans, Hierapolis has an impressive theatre.
Ruins of public buildings and residential houses are founded across the landscape.
The hot spring that led to the founding of this city can still be enjoyed today. Aptly name Cleopatra’s Pool as legend has it she was actually here for the spa.
The city walls are still pretty much intact and can be explored.
Also do notice the ancient drainage engineering.
Greeco-Roman arches and collums.
Hierapolis was still a thriving city at the dawn of Christianity as evident from the ruins of a huge church.
Unglamorously known as the church with pillars on the information board.
Hierapolis is also another ruins to practice your tomb raiding skills.
Love how the red poppies are growing on the ancient steps.
The ruins of Hierapolis is largely excavated by Italian and Turkish archeologists.
Pamukkale - The Cotton Castle
The white terraces of Pamukkale is also known as the Cotton Castle. If you’ve seen an ad by the Turkish Tourism Authority chances are you’ve seen a bikini clad lady bathing in one of these pool terraces.
The Cotton Castle is actually a natural geo-feature known as travatine. To ruin the magic, it’s actually limestone deposited by the hot spring over thousands of years.
No doubt this place has been one of Turkey’s top tourist attraction, even since ancient times! Spas and hotels sprung up for tourist to enjoy the natural hot spring that is rumored to have medicinal healing properties.
As a result of such tourist boom, the travetine began to deteriorate and some of these pools today are reconstructions (bummer, i know….).
Nevertheless this place is a must see if you are in the Aegean region and the top draw for me is not the Cotton Castle but the ancient ruins of Hierapolis that is built on top of it (next post).
Pamukkale is easily reached by bus from many major cities in Turkey, it is especially near Izmir. You can also do a day trip from either Kuşadası or Selçuk . You can also fly in using the nearby airport of Denizli. Needless to say the town has all the necessary tourist infrastructures.
Amasra on the Black Sea
Amasra was once a Greek colony on the Black Sea. Later on it was held by the Byzantines and the Genoas before becoming part of the Ottoman domain. I’ve always been intrigued by the Black Sea, there just an air of mystery about it.
The Black Sea in the morning was shrouded by fog.
Once a great fortress city today it’s mostly residential. Hiked up to the highest point where a lighthouse is now located.
Traces of the ancient fortress built by Byzantine Emperors and Traders from Genoa still remains.
By mid-day the weather was spectacular. Really glad I made this day trip, great seafood here too.
Getting to Amasra from Safranbolu is pretty simple. Get a bus to the town of Batin and from there take a domus to Amasra.
If you’re in Safranbolu, don’t forget to stop by this dede’s (Turkish grandpa’s) shop. He’s got one of the kind, great quality handcrafted leather accessories from belts to bracelets and even Turkish slippers!
I don’t shop much but I really love his stuff and he’s such a nice guy. Ended up buying a really cool belt and a leather bracelet with evil-eye beads.
Safranbolu a Vestige of the Ottoman Empire
The old city of Safranbolu is known to be the best preserved city of the Ottoman Empire. Located in northern central Turkey, in ancient times the city was a center of trade for saffron spices.
Today Safronbolu is a major tourist attraction and has been acknowledged as a World Heritage Site.
It’s basically is really nice place to see Ottoman architecture, relax, dine and shop.
There’s also a museum that demonstrates the typical life of a family living in one of these splendid houses in ancient time.
Very traditional, women were not allowed to be seen by the guest so they’ll prepare the food and serve it via that device (see right).
If you visit one of the houses, some of which are hotels now don’t forget to look at the ceiling and try the closet toilets.
Kitchen, man I am really missing Turkish food
Safranbolu can be reached by bus from many major cities in Turkey via the city of Karabük.
Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia (Part 3)
Last but not least, when you’re in Cappadocia you have to take a flight on a hot-air balloon! There are many companies offering this service. The flights are only at the break of dawn about 0500h. There are many companies which offer this service at the cost of around 100 Euros. At best the balloon ride lasts for 1 hour.
Pick-up by van to the launch site where the balloons are heating up.
All ready! My pilot is ready to launch!
So many hot-air balloons launching at the same time.
Breath taking views for the next 60 mins’.
Do note how hot-air balloons work.
The pilot can’t control the direction of the balloon.
It is the wind that directs the balloon!
The pilot merely controls the balloon going up and down.
From high above you get to see parts of Cappadocia which are probably inaccessible on foot.
There are instances where the pilot ‘dips’ the balloon into the valley.
Balloon flights are only possible early in the morning due to the weather and wind conditions which are more stable.
Clear and beautiful weather like this will allow the balloons to be up in the air for the maximum 1 hour everyone paid for.
So glad I have to starve for a couple of days just to be on this balloon for 1 hour.
At the end of the ride, the pilot even landed square on top of a truck in the middle of someone’s farm. After that a champagne toast with the pilot and certificate presentation for our participation.
My pilot on that day was Derya, the first female balloon pilot in Cappadocia!
These rides are easily booked from you hotels and accommodations. The company I went with was Ürgüp Balloons. If you’re in Cappadocia, DO IT!!!
Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia (Part 2)
The Göreme Open Air Museum is a must visit if you are in Cappadocia. Entrance fee is 15 TL and is well worth it! The rock-cut churches, monastery and nunnery dates back to the 10th century.
Overview of the open air museum, kinda have a natural fish-eye effect!
If you’re into frescoes, the Dark Church (Karanlik Kilisi) is a must, 8TL extra. The frescoes inside are restored to its former glory and is worth paying extra for it.
Walking back to Göreme town, more fairy chimneys to see. You may also hire some guides (with ponies) to visit nearby rock valleys.
Go up hill from Göreme to get a better view of the valley. Doesn’t get any more Turkish with evil eyes (nazar boncuğu) and lamps hanging from a tree.
The Uçhisar Castle is also nearby and if you want, you could also stay in one of the rock hotels (however I heard they are quite cold and smell musty).
Pigeon Valley where real pigeons still live here!
Further afield there’s the town of Ürgüp which I did not have time to visit. I really hope to return next time.
Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia (Part 1)
This is probably one of the most sublime part of my travel in Turkey. The Cappadocian region is littered with tons of amazing rock formations known as fairy chimneys. A less romantic name for them are hoodoos! The town of Göreme is the best place to stay and see these hoodoos.
First thing you probably want to do after checking in to you hotel is to explore the Göreme Open Air Museum. It’s only a short walk from the town center (20 - 30 mins’ walk). Walk there! as the landscape of farms and fairy chimneys are spectacular.
View from walking to the open air museum.
The Open Air Museum is a somewhat a collection of restored monasteries and churches carved out of rocks. Some of these have vibrant frescoes in them.
A few Christian Saints have also been said to have stayed here!
It is really amazing to explore what was once places of worship, living quarters, kitchens and dining halls.
Natural landscape and ‘bird farms’ from the open air museum.
Do watch out for your head!
Try to spend 2 - 3 hours here, there are shops and kiosks for refreshments and souvenirs.
Derinkuyu Underground City
Troglodyte means cave dwellers and this lifestyle does not get any bigger than in Derinkuyu. The underground city here is said to be 11 stories deep underground! No wonder some scientist have even suspected that it was built by aliens!
Well reality is that it was inhabited by cavemen and later built upon by the ancient Anatolian Kingdoms including the Byzantines. Inside there are many facilities such as a wells, ventilation shaft, living quarters, livestock barns, winery and kitchen.
Being underground, it is also a major refugee settlement from religious prosecution (early Christians). So naturally there is also an impressive church in here.
The town of Derinkuyu (above ground) is pretty nice too with a landmark Byzantine church that was converted into a mosque after the Turkish conquest.
The town square is well geared up for tourist. It’s not Turkey if you don’t have carpets!
Only about 10% of Derinkuyu Underground City is open to the public and going deep underground is not for the claustrophobic. If you’re interested in underground cities, Kaymakli Underground City is also nearby albeit a smaller version.