Ancient Grecian influence

Now today’s post is a continuation of the journey that commenced when we flew into Denizli from Istanbul. We had just seen cotton castles and legacies of the greeks (here). It was time to drive on down along the coast to see yet more evidence of ancient civilizations that dwelled here a very long time ago.

The featured photo is from Ephesus. We decided not to show the library, since it is such as well known feature. Instead, we have Hadrian’s arch for you. You need to know this, that for the longest time, Hellenist (that’s Greek) culture was dominant as colonies and cities arose all along what is the Turkish coastline. The Greeks supplanted older civilizations and in the next instalment you will read about them.

Back to the city itself.

When you wonder about the city you will truly begin to be amazed at how advanced society was more than 2000 years ago. You will come across water pipes that once brought running water to people’s homes. You will find public baths and latrines, suggesting the city took it upon themselves to ensure hygiene prevailed. And it had such a large amphitheatre that they obviously enjoyed good night life too! Perhaps that’s why St Paul wrote his letters of exhortation?

Does this not make you wonder and want to read about our story here? This was like the cities that never sleep – for that time. Have you been to Ephesus?

A place they call cotton cascades

Actually ‘Cotton Castle’ if we recalled correctly.

Why did they name it as such? Probably because the calcite deposits left behind by flowing thermal waters are as white as snow cotton that is grown in Turkey. And viewed from a distance, the cascade can be imagined as a castle. Ok, it takes quite a lot of imagination to arrive at that we’d be honest. Obviously we ain’t spatially intelligent enough…

Btw, did you know that Turkey is one of the largest cotton producers in the world? That feeds the massive textile industry for which the country is also known for. Some people say that the cotton in Turkey is one of the best in the world (hey they said that too in Egypt). Heheh… never ask a barber if you need a haircut remember?

Anyhow.

Since time in memorial there has been folks coming over to bathe and/or soak in the mineral rich waters gushing out forming the cascades. And we are sure you will enjoy it too even if you do not have be naked like the thermal baths of Japan… Read more about it here (not the naked bath, the journey to Pammukale aka “cotton castle”). In case you are wondering, the naked bath one is here.

But it is much more than that. You might read in the link above that we touched quite a few Grecian sites too. And how can that not be? For millenia the greeks have extensively colonized the eastern of anatolia. This was the start of our road trip around the coastline of Turkey. Stay tuned for the next installment.

Until then, have you been to Pammukale? Do you enjoy thermal baths?

Wouldn’t I dream of being in Petra!

While many articles cite how the city of Petra features in various Hollywood adventure flicks, what come to mind is history for me. As an antiquities fan (not quite the scholar I wished I could be), this ancient city is said to have been founded in the era around 300BC. The Nabateans (sounds like some far far away galaxy race of aliens) built glorious temples, tombs etc.

Tucked inside a crag of massive rock, the city of Petra today defies anyone to think that it was ever an inhabitable place. The image of sandstones surrounding the area drums up a perception that the civilization that inhabited this city perished with the sands. However, at its peak the city was a centre of the caravan trade that probably exchanged Arabian incense, Indian spices and even Chinese silk.

Long story short, the Nabatean state surrendered to a bigger power.

Ruled then by a successive number of empires (Romans who conquered them & then the Byzantines) and having intense interaction with the rest of the Mediterranean (notably Greek), the city was only abandoned after severe earthquakes and an Arab invasion in the 660s. This explains why we can find such a diversity of structures in Petra.

Map of Petra
Map from Wikipedia – really diverse structures as laid out in the map

Today this UNESCO world heritage site is visited so frequently it can almost as bustling as it was in the days of the ancient! So what would the draw be for us?

Photos of the narrow entry to the city (aka ‘the Siq’)reminded us of Antelope Canyon in Arizona. Except that it leads to a wondrous surprise. The real draw (aside from pinning one more location on our travel handprint map), is to stand in the midst of these “ruins” and start your imagination. Perhaps hallucination. It will be a field day for a history buff.

The archaeological park is said to be in excess of 2600 acres and to really do some justice, needs at least 2 full days. That rules out day tripping from somewhere else. Interesting to know that the modern town (called Wadi Musa) adjacent to Petra has 30,000+ inhabitants, mostly engaged in some way with tourism related to the site.

A couple of good tips  from an article I read recently (here):

  • The Siq is 2km long, and there is still some downhill distance from the visitor centre. Now we know why people take the donkey or carts. Wow, did not know that donkey abuse is reportable…
  • Best times is mid autumn through to mid spring though it is said hotels in the Oct/Nov and Feb/Mar months can be hard to book. Rain and snow can be either boon or bane in January (a toss up). Ok, so getting there during lunar new year’s a no go.
  • Good point about the shadows on the sandstone. The same effect happened to us at Antelope canyon and most of our photos came out blurred. Fortunately we had quite a few reasonable ones…

Equipped now with some more intelligence, we can now look forward to searching for operatives that can take us on this journey.