Pamukkale and Ephesus are both very large Roman/Greek settlements, the ruins of which are scattered around these two sites. Pamukkale is the site of Hierapolis which was essentially a “Spa Town” built on top of the hot springs that gives this area its white cliffs. Ephesus is an ancient Greek city which continued to flourish under the Romans. It is famous for being the site of the Temple of Artemis which was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The city is equally significant for Christians as the Apostle Paul preach early Christianity here. A few kilometers outside the city and up the mountains is also purported to be where the Blessed Virgin Mary spent the last years of her life.
How to Get There
We were able to visit both of these sites as part of a two week tour of Turkey which in our opinion is the easiest way to do this. Other possible options to get here would include flying from Istanbul or renting a car.
Pamukkale today, as it has since the time of the Romans, is renowned for its hot springs with therapeutic properties. Hotels in the area will have heated pools where you can take a dip even in winter so don’t forget your swimwear! The pool below is exclusively for ducks though.
Pamukkale means “Cotton Castle” in Turkish and is named for the white limestone cliffs. These cliffs are the result of thousands of years of callcium-rich hot springs flowing down them.
On top of the hill lies the ruins of Hierapolis.
St. Philip the Apostle spent the last years of his life here in Hierapolis and was crucified here in 80AD.
The Roman Theater in Heriapolis is very well preserved and looks like it can still be used for concerts and plays.
The vast ruins gives you an idea on the scale of the city that once stood in this hill…
The city of Ephesus in ancient times was a major coastal and port city. However, hundreds of years of siltation has made the city landlocked today. While the city is the location of the Temple Artemis, nothing but a few pillars remain in the site of the World Wonder today. This should not discourage you from visiting though, as the city is still one of the most impressive Roman ruins in the world.
Beautiful Roman Mosaics can still be seen around the city.
An enclosed building near the Library of Celsus houses even more impressive Roman Mosaics that shows the opulence of the Roman elite.
The marble covered street leads to the gem of this city, the Library of Celsus.
The Library of Celsus was completed in the early second century AD and was designed to store 12,000 scrolls as well as the mausoleum of Celsus. All the books and scrolls were destroyed by fire in 262 AD and the library itself collapse during an earthquake a thousand years ago. The Library Facade was restored by Archaeologists in the 1970s to what can be see today.
The Gates of Augustus was built by two slaves in honor of the emperor that gave them their freedom. It is on the right side of the Library and leads to the Amphitheater and the Arcadiane or Harbour street.
This long avenue ends to what was the port of Ephesus. The Harbour Street, also known as Arcadiane, was colonnaded avenue that led to the sea. Now the ocean is 4kms away from the end of this avenue.
The avenue ends in front of the large Ephesus amphitheater with seating available for 25,000 Romans.
Tips and Tricks
- Regardless of where you’re going in the world, always bring swimwear. We went to Turkey in the middle of winter and didn’t realize we could have swam in the hot springs of Pamukkale.
- Expect Ephesus to be very crowded during the summer months, when it is a regular stop of Cruise liners plying the Aegean sea.
- While it is always fun to travel with your own itinerary, I imagine it to be very difficult to visit Pamukkale without a tour group. Especially if you intend to visit Ephesus and other sites as well.