Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Adventures Continue: Pamukkale and Hieropolis

On our fourth day, we set off for the city of Pamukkale.  We enjoyed another scenic drive through the mountains and villages of Turkey.  As we drove, we admired rows and rows of beautiful orange trees lining the highway for miles.  We found farmers selling cartfuls of bright, plump oranges along the roads in every quaint village along the way.  The oranges were unbelievably juicy and sweet.  I wanted to stop at every orange stand I saw and buy "just a few more". 

After several hours of driving, we arrived in Pamukkale.  Pamukkale means "cotton castle".  It was named for the distinctive sparkling while cliffs and mountains that have made this area famous.  These white cliffs were formed by limestone laden hot springs flowing down the slopes.  It looks like snow, but it's actually white layers of calcium carbonate. 

On a plateau near the falls lies the impressive ruins of the ancient city of Hierapolis.  This city was built as an anceint spa around the curative waters of the hot springs that flow there.  It was leveled by an earthquake in 17 AD, but rebuilt to enjoy prosperity as a big, bustling city in the 2nd and 3rd centuries.  The ruins of this city stretched over miles of land and we quickly discovered that no matter how quickly we hiked, we would never be able to explore it all in one afternoon.  We explored a stadium, a gymnasium, a bridge, a hill covered in tombstones, and an ancient pool filled with the thermal springs that made this city popular. 

The most impressive and unforgettable spot in this ancient city was the ruins of the Church of Saint Philip.  Saint Philip was crucified upside down on a hill outside of the city walls.  A church was built over the site of Saint Philip's martyrdom in the 5th century.  As we climbed up the steep hill, we imagined Saint Philip being lead to his death where the ruins now stood.  It was chilling and inspiring.  What an incredible experience, to stand on the soil where this saint's blood was spilled out of love of Christ and His Church.  It echoed a silent challenge for us to a greater boldness and zeal in our spiritual lives.  What a blessing it is to have the Saints as examples and inspirations for us! 

As the sun was setting, we took off our shoes and walked barefoot along the terraces of the white cliffs.  The thermal springs still flow through the rocks, and it felt like warm bathwater trickling over our toes.  As we walked on the warm, snowy looking white cliffs, I felt as if I was exploring another planet.  The whole experience was surreal.  We stood on the "cotton castle" and let the curative waters of the warm, bubbly springs wash over our feet as we watched the sun set behind the mountains in the distance.  Another incredible day on our family adventures in Turkey!

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