Saturday, September 26, 2015

Hierapolis and the "Cotton Castle"

Saturday greetings from Bodrum, Turkey, here on the coast of the Aegean. This vacation has taken a decidedly relaxing turn here on the Aegean. I was planning on excursions to some of the ancient sites, but realized I needed simply to rest and soak in the beauty that surrounds this peaceful area.

After the first several days in Istanbul, our little group flew to Izmir (ancient Smyrna), where we picked up the rental car and headed to Pamukkale for two reasons. One, to visit the ruins of ancient Hierapolis, mentioned in Paul's Letter to the Colossians (4:13). In the first century, Hierapolis (the "Sacred City") was part of the tri-city area of Laodicea, Colossae, and Hierapolis. I found out that Philip the apostle moved to Hierapolis before 70 AD, where it is believed he was martyred. His tomb here was only recently discovered in 2011.

Walking (and climbing!) through this very large city was fascinating on many fronts. Its position high on a hill overlooking a vast valley was stunning.

The theater, built against a hillside here in 60 AD, following an earthquake, has a stage that has been reconstructed by archaeologists. A few photos I took while inside the theater.

Walking along the main road.

As is the case with so many of these ancient sites, one could spend days here.

But there was a second reason for visiting Pamukkale/Hierapolis. Just at the edge of the city, forming a kind of cascade down the side of the hill into present-day Pamukkale is a natural wonder, the hot spring pools, terraces really, made of travertine, a sedimentary rock formed by the carbonate minerals in the water that has cascaded over the side of this hill for centuries. This is quite a tourist attraction, as you can imagine. Everyone must remove shoes in order to walk over, around, and in these pools of warm mineral water. "Pamukkale" means "cotton castle."

The whole area resembles a ski area, doesn't it? It was extraordinary.

Since the visit and overnight in Pamukkale, the coast of the Aegean has been the place of rest.

We are privileged to have been here this past week, during the Muslim Bayram, the feast of the sacrifice. I will have much more to share about that in the next post.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.


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