Selcuk to Pamukkale, Turkey

Written May 1, 2012

Breakfast at Hotel Nilya in Selcuk includes a fruit and cheese plate and a choice of cooked eggs. The fried eggs are nicely done with a soft center, which seems to be the norm in Turkey.

Less than three hours after leaving Selcuk we arrived in Pamukkale town at the base of the famous white cliffs a little before noon.

The Melrose Hotel is at the edge of town but not far from the center. Entering the hotel grounds you are greeted by the welcoming shade of their grand stone patio. It’s this patio that makes the place while rooms, albeit clean and comfortable, are bit on the tacky side, decorated with stone tiles that don’t quite line up and chiffon bed linens, some in garish colors.

Following our host’s advice we relaxed on the patio for a couple of hours and had lunch before heading over to the ruins and cliffs. She suggested that it would be best to avoid the heat of mid-day and the crowds that came with it.

About 2PM we drove to the southern gate of Hierapolis and the travertine pools. The grounds of the complex are extensive. We began our tour with the ruins of the Martyrium of St Philip

up in the hills above the Roman Theater, taking the dirt path to the right just inside the southern gate. From this vantage point you can get the lay of the park below, with the Roman Theater, the Antique Pool and museum straight ahead

and the necropolis along the road that heads to your right.  Make your way back down towards the center to visit the theater

and continue on to the Temple of Apollo.

Next, the Antique Pool and the museum just across. A steep 30TL per person ticket allows you to swim among the submerged ruins.

Lockers are available for a 10TL deposit. While the water is an inviting 36° Celsius, the best view of the pool and its ruins are from above along the boardwalk that meanders around the pools.

The small museum, housed in the former Roman baths, is divided into three exhibit halls. My favorite was the third with friezes depicting stories from mythology.

More sculptures are on display in the garden facing the museum to the left of the first exhibit hall.

Next, walk out the road to the mostly intact latrine

just before the necropolis – a road lined with sarcophagi.

From here you can begin your walk on the boardwalk along the white cliffs. At the time of writing (May 1, 2012) only some pools were filled with most being empty.

Still it’s an impressive site with the best views near sunset when the colors reflect off the still pools.

Along the last stretch down toward the center gate you have the opportunity to walk on the white travertine and dip your toes in the water. Here a row of pools all the way down remain full.

Note that the boardwalk also continues out along the rim above these pools offering the better photo ops of the pools below.

Dinner back at Melrose was a pleasant affair on their open terrace. The food, however, was a mixed bag. The lentil soup was well done and flavorful. Don’s trout was overcooked and not very fresh. My roasted chicken, a meaty leg quarter, was moist with crispy skin. Order thoughtfully and you should have a delightful evening.

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