Pictures!

Here are some shots of Hierapolis and Istanbul:

Bathers in the Antique Pool

Bathers in the Antique Pool

Columns in the Antique Pool

Columns in the Antique Pool

Another tomb at Hierapolis

Another tomb at Hierapolis

the view from the tombs at Hierapolis

the view from the tombs at Hierapolis

tombs!  at Hierapolis

tombs! at Hierapolis

A close up of the scaenae frons at the theater in Hierapolis

A close up of the scaenae frons at the theater in Hierapolis

The theater at Hierapolis

The theater at Hierapolis

Chris enjoying one of the pools at Pamukkale

Chris enjoying one of the pools at Pamukkale

The travertines at Pamukkale

The travertines at Pamukkale

The travertines at Pamukkale

The travertines at Pamukkale

Chris at Pamukkale

Chris at Pamukkale

The travertines at Pamukkale

The travertines at Pamukkale

Ceramics in the tile museum

Ceramics in the tile museum

Beautiful tile work in the museum

Beautiful tile work in the museum

The Aya Sophia

The Aya Sophia

Inside the Aya Sophia

Inside the Aya Sophia

Inside the Aya Sophia

Inside the Aya Sophia

A mosaic in the Aya Sophia

A mosaic in the Aya Sophia

A mosaic in the Aya Sophia

A mosaic in the Aya Sophia

The Blue Mosque

The Blue Mosque

A mosaic in the Blue Mosque

A mosaic in the Blue Mosque

Detail of tile work in the Blue Mosque

Detail of tile work in the Blue Mosque

Close up of the exterior of the Blue Mosque

Close up of the exterior of the Blue Mosque

Inside the Blue Mosque

Inside the Blue Mosque

Inside the Blue Mosque

Inside the Blue Mosque

Inside the Blue Mosque

Inside the Blue Mosque

Inside a "kiosk" of the Topkapi Palace

Inside a “kiosk” of the Topkapi Palace

View of Istanbul across the Golden Horn

View of Istanbul across the Golden Horn

Mosaic from the Chora Church

Mosaic from the Chora Church

St. Peter mosaic from the Chora Church

St. Peter mosaic from the Chora Church

Fresco of Jesus resurrecting Adam and Eve in the Chora Church

Fresco of Jesus resurrecting Adam and Eve in the Chora Church

Kitten!  One of many...

Kitten! One of many…

Check in soon for the last post of the summer…

Advertisements

Hierapolis

(8-5-14; written en route to Istanbul, not posted because of late arrival at hotel)

Today was absolutely incredible, which is good, because yesterday we were both starting to feel the strain of two months abroad. I didn’t post yesterday because all we did was travel – after a leisurely morning at our lovely boutique hotel in Selcuk, we caught the bus from Selcuk to Denizli, then a minibus from Denizli to Pamukkale. After a bit of confusion with the driver of the minibus, we got off in the correct location and successfully made it to our hotel. After dinner, we assuaged our homesickness by watching Jurassic Park II (no shame!).

This morning, we packed our bags and left them in the “lobby” of our hotel (clean but Spartan rooms, incredibly cheap) since we technically had to check out by 11:00 am. Then we headed to the site.

Now, the cool thing about Pamukkale is not just the ancient site of Hierapolis. Oh sure, Roman ruins are pretty bad-ass, but what makes this site stick out are the travertine cliffs. From somewhere in the nearby mountain, calcium-rich water pours out and flows down, depositing the mineral as it goes, leaving behind these gorgeous, unearthly, cotton-y looking formations. Pools of water also form, and it was because of the supposed curative effects of the water that the ancients built a city here in the first place. So, in order to access the site, one must walk up these travertine cliffs and wade through pools of knee-deep, calcium-filled water. Pretty cool!

Our walk up was beautiful, if a bit treacherous – you have to walk up barefoot to protect the cliffs, and its not always the most pleasant on your feet in places. Once we made it to the top, we sat in the shade for a bit before heading out into the site.

Hierapolis as an archaeological site is not the most organized I’ve ever been to. There aren’t any maps in English given to you at the ticket kiosk (or available at all), and the signs throughout the site are few and far between. The site itself is also not that impressive – there just isn’t much on the ground any more. The city, however, was huge, and covered a fair amount of the hilltop. While the only major structure remaining is the theater, there are stones scattered everywhere throughout the site, sometimes you can see a wall, other times there will be a column or door jamb sticking up out of the ground. What about this site could possible make our day absolutely incredible?

The answer is two-fold: bush-whacking and lack of tourists. The lack of tourists part is pretty self-explanatory: Pamukkale is fairly off the beaten tourist trail, and those who do trek out here usually mainly come for the travertines and have only remote interest in the site (i.e. they go see the theater then they leave). As for bush-whacking, we learned at the American School that no part of a site is restricted to you if there’s no guard or barrier to stop you. So, when we saw what looked like tombs way up the hill while we were exploring the theater, we decided to go check it out. (The theater, by the way, is pretty spectacular and should not be overlooked. But…Roman tombs…)

So, because there was no guard or barrier telling us not to, we trekked up the hill. There was a nice path up to the Martyrium of St. Philip but from there, it was nothing but thistles and goat trails. So, like little goats, we hiked further up the hill until we came upon two clusters of tombs. There was nothing in them, of course, but it was still absolutely amazing to see them in situ. A few had inscriptions, and we could tell that some had been reused by Christians later on. The view was also spectacular – we could see the entire site and down the travertines as well. We could also see that the entire hillside was basically covered in tombs or sarcophagi, and that there were other little goat trails leading down to the side of the site we hadn’t seen yet. So of course, we followed another little trail down the hillside, past more and more tombs, to the agora and baths.

Having this kind of freedom at sites, especially since there were no other tourists around, is really rare, so it was especially exciting to be able to get up and personal with the tombs as we passed them, trying to read the inscriptions or identify cut marks. After we’d walked around the rest of the site (the actual necropolis on the main road leading into/out of town extended for another half mile. guess those curative waters aren’t so helpful after all), we headed back to the little cafe where we chugged some water and shared a sandwich. We poked around the small museum for a bit then rambled over some stone piles that we’d missed earlier (“nymphaeum” and “temple of Apollo”). We then headed to the Antique Pool, which I had been looking forward to. For a ridiculous fee, you are allowed to swim in a pool made by the Romans with remains of columns and what-not in it. I was ridiculously excited, but when we went to check it out, we discovered that it was basically a huge tourist trap – the pool looked like it had been made recently and had the columns dumped artfully into it. Not worth 32 lira! Disappointed, but still satisfied with our day, we headed back down the cliffs to prepare for the next leg of our journey. Next up, Istanbul!