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Pamukkale

Thursday, March 30th 2006

From Denizli I could see a bright patch of white on a distant hillside, and this turned out to be Pamukkale. A spring here spouts amazingly mineral-rich waters, and over thousands of years a huge terrace of limestone has built up. The Greeks built the city of Heirapolis here 2200 years ago, and it was a kind of health resort, with ill people hoping the chalky waters would cure them.

We walked up, ditching our shoes and padding barefoot across the soft white ground. Apparently until recently, there were hotels right next to the terraces, and water from the springs had been diverted to fill swimming pools. Without water flowing over them, some of the white cliffs turned brown, and a road was carved across part of the terrace. Recently, many hotels had been demolished, and water flowed over the cliffs again.

We paddled our way to the top of the terraces. Distant mountains towered over the ruins of Heirapolis. In the valley below, Denizli sprawled and gave off a distant roar of traffic. John had decided to stay a night in Denizli, but I felt like getting back to Istanbul, so after a look around Heirapolis I headed back down the terraces, got on the first dolmuĊŸ that passed by, and went back to Denizli to catch the Pamukkale Ekspresi back to Istanbul.

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