One of the main reason we’ve decided to visit Turkey, besides wanting to experience the Turkish culture, habits, hammam (the Turkish bath) and tea…yes, they are big fans of a hot cup of tea in the middle of those hot summer days, was to visit Pamukkale, or so called the “Cotton Castle” in Turkish. To be honest, the first time we came across a picture of Pamukkale, it seemed surreal to me and I was more than sure most of the photos were edited. Everyone knows how to edit a photo these days to look good on Social Media!
Pamukkale is a natural site in south-western Turkey where for thousands of years a deep underground spring has been pouring out streams of hot, mineral-saturated water. As it has flowed down the mountainside the steaming water has hollowed enormous circular basins in the earth, and the water’s rich mineral content has coated them in a smooth layer of dazzlingly-white calcareous rock.
To the ancients such beauty could only mean that the place was sacred to the gods. That is the reason why, close to Pammukale nowadays we can find the ruins of Hierapolis, whose name means “Sacred City” and is believed by the ancients to have been founded by the god Apollo. During the Roman period, Hierapolis was known as a health centre, since the hot springs, with its mineral rich waters are said to be good for illnesses such as skin diseases, circulation problems, rheumatism, etc.
As the legend goes, Cleopatra used to come and swum here and this pool is the secret of her youth. The entrance fee is 10 Euros, so who knew staying young and beautiful was so easy? The pool is surrounded by lush greenery and in the pool there are collapsed Roman marble columns from the nearby Temple of Apollo.
We were happy to discover that Turkey has much more to offer other than Pamukkale. As part of our Turkish experience, we had to visit their world renowned “bazar”. Who knew Dolce and Gabbana, Prada, Louis Vuitton and other big brands were selling their latest collections here, at half price! And it’s amazing how you can negotiate a handbag from 300 euros down to 40 euros!!! 🙂 Even with this incredible offer, I could not bring myself to buy it but for all you future visitors, it’s worth to remember these 2 words: “Indirim yoc?”, meaning “Do I get a discount, offer?”. They’re answer will ALWAYS be yes!
The Turkish hospitality is well known. Everyone greets you with a big smile on their face (especially the merchants) and after you’ve finished shopping for souvenirs, they invite you to chat over a nice cup of tea, which seems to be the most preferred drink by the Turks. A must try is the coffee as well since it’s as renowned as the Italian coffee and can come with a future read in the coffee grounds!
A truly surreal experience was the hamman, the Turkish bath, which is more a ritual passed down from generation to generation. As a hole, it is designed to clean and relax the body and the mind. But basically you get a good scrub down and massage while you lie down on a marble table in a hot steamy room, usually done by a dark and handsome Turk. Enlightening, right?
We plan to come back to Turkey, only because we left with the feeling that there are so many more things to see, to do. It’s an amazing country to visit as long as you bear in mind they are quite traditional and they keep to their own rules, way of thinking.