The stunning white calcium pools, which cling to the side of a ridge, have long been one of the most famous picture postcard views of Turkey. Pamukkale, literally meaning “cotton castle”, is also the site of the ancient city of Hierapolis of which there are many interesting ruins, and is a very popular destination for a short visit.
Pamukkale was formed when a spring with a high content of dissolved calcium bicarbonate cascaded over the edge of the cliff, which cooled and hardened leaving calcium deposits. This formed into natural pools, shelves and ridges, which tourists could plunge and splash in the warm water.
Hotels were springing up from the 1970s to cater for the large influx of tourists, and shortly afterwards UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site. But by the 1990s, this took its toll on the state of the calcium pools and restrictions were placed on these travertine terraces. Many hotels were knocked down, visitors are only allowed on major paths around the sites, and must remove footwear to stand on the calcium deposits. This seems to have been a successful move, as the water supply is now used for preservation and some of the damaged calcium deposits have been strengthened.
South of Izmir on the south Aegean, Selcuk has been transformed since the 1990s into a major tourist destination, mainly as a base to visit the famous ruins of Ephesus a few kilometres away. The ancient classical city is one of the best preserved in the eastern Mediterranean and is a great example of Roman architecture.
Selcuk has many historical remains of early Christianity, including a house which many believe to have been visited by the Virgin Mary, and Ayasoluk Hill where St John write his Gospel. There are many small hotels and guest-houses, restaurants and shops which makes the town a good base to explore the area. The town gets busy during the famous annual camel wrestling festival, held in Ephesus around February.
According to ancient inscriptions, Ephesus is thought to have been inhabited since around 3000 BC, roughly the same time as Smyrna, and evidence of Ion, Roman, Byzantine, Seljukian and Ottoman civilisations are still seen today. The ancient city was a good centre for trading, mainly because of its location close to coast, and religion. It was known for the cult of Cybele, the Anatolian fertility goddess, then later for Artemis, the virgin goddess for which a temple was built in her honour.
The temple was destroyed in 356BC, and when Alexander the Great passed through in 334 BC he offered to pay for the cost of a new construction, provided it was dedicated to him. The Ephesus people declined, and rebuilt it with great success.
When the Romans made Ephesus their provincial capital, it became a busy town with great commercial, trading and political importance, and a population that grew to around 250,000. A significant Christian community grew, and the city was visited by St John the Evangelist in the 1st century, then by St Paul, who was there between 51-53 AD and wrote some of his epistles. It was also the venue of two Ecumenical Councils.
But the success of Roman Ephesus began to dwindle, mainly because of problems connected to the harbour, which was the main source of trade. The Cayster River was pushing silt up the harbour and despite attempts to dredge it and rebuild the harbour, the sea was pushed back to Pamucak, 4km away, and therefore Ephesus lost its source of wealth. By the 6th century, the city was unliveable and was shifted near to St John’s Basilica, and by 1090 it was taken over by the Turks.
Day 1: Arrival to Izmir Adnan Menderes Airport. Transfer by luxury buses from airport to hotel. Welcome cocktail in hotel. Check in rooms and after panoramic Pamukkale city tour. Dinner and overnight in hotel. Includes: (B), (D).
Day 2: After breakfast full day ancient city of Hierpolys tour. Visit Roman Bath Amphitheatre Temple of Apollo, Monumental Foundation Nympheum, Grand Basilica, the Martyrium of St. Philip and Columned Church. Thermal Baths. Dinner and overnight in hotel. Includes: (B), (D).
Day 3: After breakfast full day ancient city of Aphrodisias tour. We visit city of Love Goddess Aphrodit. Visit Temple of Aphrodisias, Theatre Hadrian Baths, Týberýus Portýkos, Agora Door, Tetratoon Odeon, Tatrapylon Sebasteion. Dinner and overnight in hotel. Includes: (B), (D).
Day 4: After breakfast departure from Pamukkale to Kusadasý. After 5 hour journey we arrive Kusadasý. Check in rooms and after panoramic Kusadasy city tour. (City Center Güvercin Island and Öküz Mehmet Pahsa Caravanserail). Dinner and overnight in hotel. Includes: (B), (D).
Day 5: After breakfast full day Kusadasi Tour. Ancient City of Kusadasý( Ephesus – a cultural center of antiquity. The city of Ephesus was first founded in the 6th century B.C. and its history goes back to the Paleolithic period of the Neonlithic age. We visit in Ancient City of Ephesus (library of Celcius, Great Theatre Stadium - the only column remaining from Arthemis Temple, which is one of the worlds seven wonders). House of Virgin Mary Seven Sleepers Seljuk St. Jean Bazilica. Dinner and overnight in hotel. Includes: (B), (D).
Day 6: After breakfast free Day. If group wants extra Þirince Wine Village and St. Jean Church trip. Dinner and overnight in hotel. Includes: (B), (D).
Day 7: After braekfast transfer to airport by luxery buses from Kusadasý to Izmir Adnan Menderes Airport. After boarding end of Rain Tourism Services. Includes: (B).
Also see tour packages in:
Middle East Turkey Local Culture Cultural Journey Archeology/History
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