Travel with me #88 : A visit to Cleopatra's Antique Pool and the Ancient Theatre!
Dear Steemit friends :
In today's edition of Travel with Me, we'll be visiting the Antique Pool and Theatre, both very significant parts of the ancient city, Hierapolis.
In previous posts, we had a look at the necropolis of Hierapolis which was once the largest Necropolis in the Roman empire, and of course we visited the white travertine terraces of Pamukkale which have been used as a natural thermal spa for thousands of years.
The city itself was built just above the white travertine terraces and is a similar length to the white cotton like thermal cliffs. Both the Thermal Pool and Theatre are further inland up towards a shallow mountainous area of land. Even though it looks like a short distance on the map, there is actually quite a substantial walk between the thermal pool and the theatre. Not to mention a somewhat arduous climb!
Again, I would recommend renting a buggy or scooter to save time and avoid the risk of heat stroke. Especially if you visit in the summer months.
The Frontinus Avenue connects the Necropolis, Agora, the Latrine to the thermal pool and theatre. Along this avenue, you will find The Cathedral Church - one of the most important Christianity era structures of Hierapolis, as well as the Sanctuary Nymphaeum, a sacred gathering spot functioning as a reservoir, assembly chamber, and even weddings.
Some imagination will be required to see it in it's old glory, however, even in it's state of ruin, it is incredible to see walls and arches still extant and intact to this day.
This is the entrance ticket to the whole site of Hierapolis and Pamukkale. Make sure you try visit the antique pools in conjunction with either the Necropolis or the travertine terraces as you will be charged a further entrance fee to the pool.
The Antique pool (Cleopatra's Pool)
The antique pool is often referred to as Cleopatra's Pool because it is alleged that Cleopatra herself bathed in these exact pools. In-fact, the state of the pools have changed dramatically throughout history as it's original form was without any of the stone columns and rubble stones which once constituted the Temple of Apollo.
Fed by hot spring water from deep within the mountains, the pools are a little more than room temperature but definitely not too warm. In-fact, it is a very pleasant temperature, especially coming in from the outside which was again above 40 degrees.
As mentioned earlier, the entrance to the Antique pools are a separate cost to the entrance fee of Hierapolis. Expect to pay some 35 TL for the privilege of dipping in the pool, and another 5TL for locker rental.
Around the pools, there are several stalls serving drinks and food as well as large seating areas with tables. This is probably one of the most modernised places of Hierapolis and despite this, some archaic pieces of history lie just beyond the edge of the garden area, awaiting our visit.
Our first glimpse of the antique thermal pool. I was stunned by all the Roman and Greek artefacts in the water. These were originally the Doric columns used in the Temple of Apollo. The temple fell due to earthquakes and the ruins were left in the pool.
With original temple ruins scattered all over the pool, it's surely a sacred place to swim. One can only imagine what it was like in the days that Cleopatra herself would swim in these exact waters.
Some say that the thermal water helps to revitalise the skin making a person look up to 6 years younger. Regardless of the supposed health benefits, it is an idyllic place to relax after a round in the sun. Most of the people tend to visit in the afternoon time so expect it to be quite busy until the early evening.
By the time that I was changed and ready to go into the water, most of the people we saw initially had already left. Leaving some great opportunities for photos!
To enter the main pool area, you have to go from a side entrance with a stream that leads to the large pool. Passing under this little footbridge, I noticed a birds nest with some baby birds tweeting very loudly!
It's hard to believe that they've built a nest here, especially seeing as the pool is actually indoors!
Every couple of minutes, the mother bird would return and feed the baby birds. Very cute!
The anxious baby birds waiting to be fed..
Because the pool has been modernised, the entire pool complex is actually indoors. Lush greenery surrounds the sacred pool, whilst a continuous supply of mineral-rich fresh water is pumped in and out of the pools. Aside from the modernisation and landscaping, the marble columns, and plinths are exactly as they were when they fell.
With so many artefacts spread out in the pool, it's actually quite difficult to "swim", most probably you'll sit and bathe in the luke warm water.
It's shallow enough that children can come in the pool too, just be careful not to strike one of the big stones or columns whilst moving around.
Tania showed me how to do a starfish on my back. And here I am just about doing it!
And now, together!
The Hierapolis Museum
This is one of the towns largest structures and prior to it's function as a museum, the building erected as a Roman bath in the 2nd century. It wasn't until 1984 that the building was converted for use as a museum to house artifacts recovered from excavations in Denizli as well as the surrounding region.
Most of the works exhibited in this museum were found in Hierapolis and belong to the Hellenistic and Roman eras, but there are also prehistoric artifacts from Beycesultan as well as period works that have arrived from near by ancient towns such as Laodiceia, Colossae and Tripolis.
What you'll see below, are three indoor venues of the baths, which now house the museum exhibits. Please forgive me as I do not know the details of each, and there are thousands of items. Do however enjoy the pictures!
In every ancient city, there was almost always a theatre where stories and acts were played to a very enthusiastic audience. This form of drama was hugely popular in both the ancient Greek and Roman times and would have been the main way stories were told. This is in contrast to reading the very same stories.
The theatre that we find in Hierapolis was originally located further North. The original one was destroyed in 60 A.D and the new one began just two years later in it's current position on the hill slope.
It wasn't until 206 A.D that the theatre was completed and by then, it had crossed several eras of reign. From the Flavian era in 62 A.D, to the Hadrian era (A.D 117-138), all the way to the Severius era in A.D 206.
Because the theatre was built on a steep point on the hill. It sports some of the best views of the valley, as well as the town centre. This was perhaps an intentional design, but can also be explained by the lack of engineering know-how at the time to build free standing buildings of this size and scale. (They usually leaned on the side of mountains / hills)
The new theatre as we see it today, has a 91m long facade. It's cavea is comprised of 50 rows of seats which are then divided into seven sections with eight intermediate stairways.
The diazome divided the cavea into two and was entered via two vaulted passages.
The lower part is where the marble exedra is found. This is where the town's VIPs would normally be. Whilst marble was used for some of the upper and lower sections, limestone was used as the primary material as it was cheaper.
After a long day, I was more than looking forward to having some quiet time to just relax and enjoy the spectacular view. Sunset was imminent and we decided we would sit by the travertine terraces and watch the sun down before leaving.
It's a little bit risky because there are no lights in the ancient city, and once the sun was down, there was very little visibility to even walk back to the main entrance. However, views from atop of the Pamukkale town and nearby town of Denizli were spectacular. Most of the people had vacated the premises already and we felt like we had the whole place to ourselves.
After sundown, we decided to go back up to the theatre to see what it was like at night.
As we walk back up towards the theatre, I noticed for the first time, the ruins just below the theatre.
They are actually the sanctuary of Apollo, the Plutonion, and the House with the Ionian Column Capital.
The theatre looks quite different at night. A few lights illuminate the entire theatre sparingly, leaving what remains of the natural light for seeing everything else.
Souvenir store and other tidbits
My first taste of Dondurma (Turkish ice cream).
The vendor was very tricky and refused to let me get my ice cream! Each time he'd ask me to hold my cone out, he'd woosh the ice cream away! Eventually he had enough with his fun and I could finally taste the thick textured ice cream. I must say, the reputation of Turkish ice cream precedes itself. I was thoroughly satisfied and I had a lot of fun too!
Check out the video !
Thank you for joining me on this very long edition of Travel with me to the Antique (Cleopatra) pool, Ancient Theatre and Museum. This concludes my visit to Hierapolis and Pamukkale and I hope you had as much fun joining me on my adventures here as I have presenting it all to you!
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