By Antonio Malara
Leaving the Ephesus area, we headed to Pamukkale where we arrived at around 6 PM. Thanks to that bus ride, we also had the opportunity to see the naturalistic scenarios of Turkey for the first time. Above all, I was struck by the variety of the landscape before arriving at our destination. We crossed expanses of green hills, however in the distance I could clearly see, high snow capped mountains, a very nice contrast. The Pamukkale area could already be seen in the distance, a large white area on a high elevation, from a distance it looked like snow too but in reality it was a different thing. Pamukkale is a natural thermal site, the particular composition of its water has led over time to the formation of layers of limestone, which is why the area has that white color. I had seen that place on the internet and it struck me a lot so once I got off the bus I couldn't wait to explore it, however after a few steps I made a new and pleasant discovery. As I walked I saw the remains of ancient walls and columns, high up on the hill I could see as many ruins and a gigantic Greek theater. At that point someone explained to me that this was also the area where the ruins of the ancient Greek-Roman city of Hierapolis were located.
We walked a long wooden walkway that led to the access point of Pamukkale, however along the way the beauty of Hierapolis on the hill led me and my sister to stop for photos with that suggestive background. The thing was singular, I was convinced to get there and immerse myself in a white scenario while instead I found the yellow of the ruins among the green of the vegetation. After a while, however, the immense and characteristic white limestone manifested itself below us! That place was truly original and, moreover, it was emphasized even more by the contrast of colors all around. The water reserves of Pamukkale, those species of lakes, were of a green color and immersed in white, this combination with the green of the valley and the mountains created a surreal scenario.
After a few minutes we were there, Don Valerio split the group in the sense that he asked people who wanted to visit Hierapolis. Basically, the climb to the archaeological site was a bit tough and we had to go there immediately otherwise it would get dark. On the way back, whoever wanted, would have gone down along the waters and lakes of Pamukkale. Together with my sister and some others, we decided to go to Hierapolis first, even if honestly I was a bit hesitant. The walk lasted about ten minutes and I don't remember it was particularly difficult due to the difference in height, more than anything else it was rocky and full of ruins. As usual, once I got up there I realized that my doubts were completely wrong. The view from the Hierapolis site was truly unique and much more impressive than the one from Pamukkale. That modest height difference gave a more articulated view because from there we could see many more things. The view of the white expanse and the valley with the hills was enriched by the ruins of Hierapolis in the foreground and the snow-capped mountains on the horizon, two things visible only from up there. Due to its particularity of being on a slope, Hierapolis was a site different from the others to visit. We could already see the ruins from above before reaching them. That place was beautiful to live as well as to photograph, at least it was the feeling I had, I liked to walk around and observe more than photograph. This was probably due to the view from there, a sort of compendium of the beauty of the ruins. After passing through many of them we arrived at the theater, this was entirely built taking advantage of the natural slope of the mountain. It was immensely large and in perfect condition, from the stands to the stage, where the columns and some statues stood out clearly. In addition to the aforementioned background, the golden hour also helped to increase the beauty of the place. In fact, the soft yellow light of the sunset created a unique atmosphere that allowed us to take truly special photos. If before going up there I had doubts, after seeing the theater I didn't want to leave the place anymore, it was really sad to leave there that day.
We returned to Pamukkale which was around 7:30 PM so there was not much time to visit it and we had to speed up the time. To access the site we had to be barefoot and I devised a system to fasten the shoes in the back of the belt. That way I had my hands free and the shoes couldn't be seen from the front. After making the cuffs on the jeans, I had a cool look that allowed me to go around the place while maintaining a certain style and having my hands free. With this new look I walked with my sister through the streams and lakes. The water was very hot and created a singular contrast because it was very cold there, personally I don't remember having done such a thing before. I was padded with a sweater and a jacket but I walked barefoot through streams and ponds of hot water. The differences in height created an effect with the background like if the lakes were high-altitude swimming pools. In fact, the lakes resembled pools due to the color of the water and with a bit of commitment with my sister we were able to immortalize this effect in the photos. Those moments were fun, unfortunately, given the late hour we were unable to descend all the slopes in the valley. If I remember correctly, there was a lake at each level and we only went down to the second. Surely it would have been a different experience to get to the valley but for that day we had done enough, personally I was satisfied and many times when I’m not able to complete an activity in a certain place gives me the motivation to return. It was in this mood that together with my sister I joined the group again, so still very satisfied.
That afternoon everything happened very quickly but nevertheless I have very vivid and beautiful memories. That night we slept in a hotel there in Pamukkale and the next day at 7 AM we were already on the bus for the new journey. On the way to the new destination we saw the white expanse of Pamukkale again for the last time but from a new perspective. That was the last gift that that place gave us, a panoramic homage as if the place wanted to remind us that it was full of surprises and that must be seen again in a deeper way.
Pictures: Antonio Malara
Camera: Nikon D800