Go Turkey: Kusadasi & Pamukkale

The history of Turkey makes a very interesting reading. In ancient times Hittites were the original inhabitants of the Turkish region, but after their fall the Persians took hold of the region. Alexander the Great led the Greeks in conquering the country in the 3rd Century BC, but after a few centuries, the Greeks lost control to the Roman Empire. Soon the Eastern part of the Roman Empire established its own independence and was known as the Byzantine Empire.

Also read: The City of Istanbul


The ruins of Ephesus and Hieropolis bear testimony to the changes during these periods, and no trip to Turkey is complete without visiting these two locations. We flew down from Istanbul to Izmir, a city in Western Turkey, and then drove down to the seaside town of Kusadasi, which is the gateway to the old city of Ephesus.

The tourist town of Kusadasi is located on the Aegean Sea, which separates Turkey from Greece. The small town has a population of only about a lakh. The harbor is known for luxury cruise liners coming in from Greece bringing in tourists from across the world, who are mostly headed for Ephesus an hour’s drive away.

We reached Kusadasi in the afternoon. The Marina Hotel where we checked in was close to the seashore, and from our rooms, we could get a clear view of the blue sea and many boats of different shapes and sizes there. Multiple cruise liners were seen at a distance. In the evening we visited the seafront, a buzzing space with many tourists and dozens of restaurants lined up on the coast. We again tried some Turkish Ice Cream here. The dinner at the hotel had a nice spread, extensive mezze dishes, different varieties of olives, and the Turkish dolma were some of the highlights.

The next morning we moved out early. Our destination today was Ephesus. After a touristy visit to a leather factory, we headed to the House of The Virgin Mary located on top of a small hill. Mother Mary used to live here towards the end of her life after she was brought there by Saint John who was designated by Jesus to take care of His Mother. The place was thronging with tourists mainly visiting the chapel and the wishing wall, where people can write their wishes on a piece of paper and leave the strip here.

The ruins of Ephesus were a few kilometres away. The city, popular during the Greek and Roman rules was built during the 10th Century BC and was destroyed by the Goths in the 3rd century AD. The main places to visit in the huge area were the Gate of Augustus, Amphitheater, Temple of Hadran, and the Library of Celsus. As the guide was explaining the rich history of the place, one feels transported to a different civilization itself. I did not have much idea about Greco-Roman history, but still had one of the best days of the trip.

The following day, we left Kusadasi for the quaint town of Pamukkale. The trip to Pamukkale involves a road trip of a couple of hours. Many tourists do this location through a day trip, but we decided to stay in the village for a day before proceeding to Antalya.

Pamukkale is known for its hot springs and travertine terraces formed out of carbonate mineral deposits from the hot spring water. As you travel, you come across areas with huge white deposits, just next to the springs. The name “Pamukkale” comes from “cotton castle”, stemming from the fact that the white deposits resemble cotton. The water from the hot thermal springs supposedly has healing power which leads to many people taking baths in the water bodies which get created from the water from the springs. 

It is the healing powers of the water here that led to the setting up of the city of Hieropolis around the 7th century BC as a healing centre.  It was initially a Jewish settlement that later became part of the Roman Empire. The city was destroyed due to an earthquake later, but from the ruins, one can get a very good idea about the civilization at that time. We looked at the remains of the streets and the gates, an amphitheater that remained quite intact, as well as a necropolis with graves and tombs. A thermal pool where Queen Cleopatra used to take bath during her visits here is aptly named Cleopatra’s pool. Many tourists take bath here. And finally, there is a museum, with artifacts and statues that had broken off from the structures.

We enjoyed our bath in the hot spring as well as went around the ruins on a conducted tour in a buggy. The Hieropolis is one location that narrates the history of the land, and again it is important to take a guide along with you.

Late afternoon, we checked into our hotel at Pamukkale. The novelty of many hotels here is that the bathrooms attached to your room have a connection to deliver thermal spring water so that you can enjoy a thermal bath privately. Our hotel also had a swimming pool with this water.

The town of Pamukkale is quaint and enjoyable. There is a hot spring bang in the middle of the town. We walked through the local market, stopped by at a local café for sandwiches and coffee, and checked out some goodies at a local grocer. This was the part of the trip where we could get a feel of the local life.

We had a long trip ahead to the coastal city of Antalya the following day. We left Pamukkale the next morning with happy memories and wished we could have a longer stay here. 

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