Friday, July 20, 2012

Cleopatra's Pool, Hierapolis and Pamukkale

After touring Ephesus we boarded the bus for the ride to Pamukkale.  All we knew about Pamukkale was that there were supposed to be some shallow pools to walk in.  This is a very popular tourist destination and a unique place.  We arrived at the hotel around 9 p.m. and watched sunset from the restaurant roof terrace.  We were exhausted after getting at 5 a.m., riding several hundred miles in a bus and walking through the ruins of Ephesus in the very hot sun.  There were no English speaking programs on the hotel room television, but we were so tired it didn't matter.  We wanted a quick dinner, a good shower and and early bedtime.
Hierapolis theater ruins in background

Right side exterior of theater
The next day we had an early breakfast and were back on the tour bus by 7:30 for the short ride up the mountainside to Pamukkale.  Inside the entrance gate the first thing to visit is the ancient city of Hierapolis, a/k/a Herapolis.  Neither Zachary nor Elisabeth nor Bill could be enticed to get interested in touring the ruins of this ancient city.  Ephesus had been enough for them.  (for me, too; if I am going to be honest about it)

Hierapolis was an ancient city in the mountains that was naturally well protected on 3 sides.  The remaining side overlooked a fertile valley.  It was the perfect location for a city; not high enough altitude to get snow but high enough to provide relief from the notoriously hot summers of this part of the world.  Visitors came from the areas now known as Africa, the Middle East, Europe and the Black Sea countries to partake of the healing qualities of the 17 thermal springs in Hierapolis.

Partially excavated ancient road; probably really an agora judging by the
columns along either side.  There would have been merchant shops
along each side of this city roadway.
As we walked from the entrance gate to the Pamukkale pools the closest Hierapolis ruins were the usual theater and a very large bath complex that has been converted to a museum.  There were many outlying building ruins but none of us wanted to walk around in the sun any more just to see these old stones.  The one thing that was good for the kids to see was a partially excavated roadway that we walked past on our way to Cleopatra's Pool.  It was an excellent example of how dirt has covered ancient places over the past 2,000+ years.

Rather than write about this ancient city that we were not particularly interested in, I will provide a couple of links in case any reader wants more information.  
Everything you might want to know about Hierapolis:  Wikipedia -- Hierapolis      Hierapolis tour

Elisabeth, Zachary and Judy in Cleopatra's Pool
The first place we visited was Cleopatra's Pool.  This thermal pool supposedly was a wedding gift to Cleopatra from Antony and they swam in this pool on their honeymoon.  Back then this pool was part of an elaborate bathing complex fed by natural spring water.  It is easy to envision what this must have looked like during Cleopatra's time.....with marble columns all around supporting carved stone cornices.

Exploring Cleopatra's Pool

Since then an earthquake destroyed the bathing complex and toppled Ionic columns into the pool, but the natural spring thermal waters continue to supply the naturally formed pool.  The damaging earthquake supposedly occurred in 2nd century A.D., but there have been many earthquakes in this region so who knows for certain exactly when all these columns and cornices toppled into the pool.  Once source cites 2nd century and another source cites 7th century.

Maneuvering over toppled columns

Warm spring water filling the pool

The technical specs are that the water in the thermal pool is 36 - 57 degrees Celcius (96.8 to 134.6 degrees Fahrenheit).  The pH value is 5.8 and radon value is 1480 pCi/l.  

Gingerly finding our way around broken marble things

The water contains bicarbonate, sulphate, carbon dioxide, partly with iron and radioactive combination.  The water in this spring is suitable for bathing, swimming, showering and drinking cures; and has 2430 MG/liter melt metal value.  (Whatever all that means)

It is considered a healing thermal spring.  

Attempting to stand on broken column

The day we visited the pool temperature felt about 38 Celsius or 100 Farhenheit.  The water feels silky on your skin and leaves no residue.  After soaking in the pool one feels relaxed. 
And she made it!  (briefly)

Toppled Ionic column

No kids under age 16
allowed in roped off section

Excellent photo showing the toppled columns and cornices in the pool.  Our tour group was one of the first to
arrive.  The pool very quickly became crowded with tourists.

Pamukkale pools at top of mountain;
Pamukkale town and artificial pools at bottom

Next we walked over to the top of the pools of Pamukkale.  Technically, I believe that Pamukkale is the town down at the bottom of this small mountain.  But the pools at the top are commonly known as Pamukkale.

Pools near top at Pamukkale

These are shallow pools formed by deposits of calcium carbonate that naturally occurs in the thermal springs that constantly fill these pools.  Down by the town there are several artificial pools that looks just like the real pools at the top.  

Fill trench

Bill stayed in the shade on the wooden deck at the top of the mountain while Zachary, Elisabeth and I walked through almost all of the pools.....along with at least a thousand other tourists.  Man!  Did that place get crowded!

Looks cold; but it isn't

The guide explained that some 5-star resorts had been built some time in the past that had diverted water from the natural springs that feed the Pamukkale pools.  My limited research indicates that since Pamukkale has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site that this water is no longer being diverted.  The guide disagrees with that and insisted that the water is still being diverted today.  As a result of this diversion (and probably also due to natural depletion reasons), the spring-fed waters of Pamukkale will dry up in about 150 years.

Looks like a wall of ice but is really just calcium
carbonate deposits over very many years
We all enjoyed Pamukkale very much
Isn't this a special place!

The pools of Pamukkale will no longer exist in 150 years.
No shoes allowed when walking on the pool area
Zachary at Pamukkale

Elisabeth at the fill source to the Pamukkale pools.
There was a trench to carry the spring water to fill all pools

Russian tourist near Cleopatra's Pool complex.
Wonder where she found that swimsuit.

BTW, it is common to talk about the fat American tourists.  Believe me, some of the Russian tourists have us beat....hands down!


  1. Wow, what beautiful pictures! Cleopatra's pool looks so beautiful and refreshing, and Pamukkale is a place we've never heard of but ... wow! It does look like snow, and it appears to be a special place indeed!

    Love the last picture of the russian tourist!

  2. I actually enjoyed reading through this posting.Many thanks.

    Filling a Swimming Pool


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