25 July 2013

Hieropolis-The City of Healing

Hieropolis-the city of healing! People apparently used to come here receive help from the many doctors. And who could blame them for thinking this place with its rather magical looking snow that's not snow (i.e. the travertines) could cure them? However as Lonely Planet amusingly pointed out, given the size of the city's necropolis, healers here had somewhat mixed results.

The necropolis was extensive. I mean, extensive! Aside from the theater (which looked like every other theater you've ever seen in any ancient city) it was the most complete of all the sections of the city. It was also pretty creepy. I'm not sure what it was meant to look like when it was functional...but being surrounded by all these, mostly open (!), tombs was rather creeptastic.

It also seems strange that they should be piled on each other all willy nilly as they were. That cannot have been the intended plan for the original necropolis. So were the healers really so ineffective that the need outgrew the space and they did indeed just pile tombs on top of one another? Were they shifted around and piled on top of one another as the city was excavated? And if that is the case, what did they do with the bodies? Because the (open) tombs were empty. We checked, trepidatiously and a little horrified each time, but we checked.

That was the basilica
One of the weirdest things I've ever seen on my travels was all the people wandering around Hieropolis in their bathing suits. And who could blame them really? It was sooo hot. And the huge burning ball of fire in the sky was completely unobstructed by any clouds. Since we ignored Lonely Planet's suggestion to start at the north entrance, make our way through Hieropolis, then down the travertines and instead made our way up the travertines, walked all the way through the city, then came back through it all again, we were melting. Meeelting. Like the Wicked Witch of the West but without having any of that lovely water thrown on us.

Although perhaps that's what happened to all the dead bodies. Maybe the constant heat was too much for them as well and they just crumbled away to dust a la Joss Whedon's vampires. I would have. By about this time we were ready to give up on Hieropolis-unfortunately we still had to walk back to the travertines. We got as far as the theater which could only be entered from the top via a long walk up a hill. I was very much, screw that, and my friends seemed to agree.

The latrines-much fancier than any public bathroom I've ever seen
At this point the only thing that kept us going was the thought of being able to exit the site via the travertines. Even though we figured they'd be crawling with people (which per my last post they were indeed), at least there would be water and cool limestone to help us escape from the burning heat.

My friend Eva pointed out that this was certainly the first time either of us have ever been to ruins, which by and large are great expanses of hot, dusty, hot dustiness, that have such a pleasant surprise at the end. The beginning (or the end depending on which route you took) of the city has a few pockets of travertines, although these you're not allowed to walk on.

This place below we found, I must admit, shortly after we started our walk and we stopped to take a wee nap in the shade. Not sure if these lovely gardens were part of the city that was or not but these were really nice places for a rest.

So even though it was hot as...something really hot and sweaty...it was completely worth it to ignore Lonely Planet and walk up the travertines first since we got to see everything without absolutely everyone else also being there. Although if we went again we might rethink our plan to then walk all the way through Hieropolis twice and just go through once and find a bus or something from the north entrance.

Up next - Bebek and the Fortress of Europe!

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