The journey today is from Izmir to Pamukkale thermal pools, 239 km away. Along the way, we made a shopping stop at Kercilar Leather. The guys in our group all ended up buying leather jackets, lol.
The next stop was the House of Virgin Mary (Turkish Meryem Ana or Meryem Ana Evi), located on Mt Koressos in the vicinity of Ephesus, 7 km from Selcuk. House of Virgin Mary was not known until Anne Catherine Emmerich's vision. The paralysed German nun who had never been to Ephesus had a vision of the House of the Virgin Mary and described it in detail to the German writer Clemens Brentano who later published a book about it. Catherine Emmerich died in 1884. In 1891, priests and historians from Izmir read about her vision and found a little building which corresponded with Emmerich's descriptions.
The house was officially declared a shrine of the Roman Catholic Church in 1896 and since then it became a popular place of pilgrimage. It has been running as an active chapel over a century. Pope Paul VI visited the shrine in July 26th 1967.
This was one of the highlights of the trip. There were already many buses at the parking area and the site was packed with tourists. Although, it was a hot morning, the grounds was partly shaded by many trees. There was an air of solemnity as people lined up patiently to enter the small house and exit from the side of it. No photography was allowed inside. We spent the time allocated on prayers and reflection, collecting water from the spring and just soaking up the atmosphere there.
|Lining up to Virgin Mary's House|
|At the courtyard|
|Collecting spring water from the taps|
|Pilgrims' wishes and prayers written on pieces of cloths tied to a fencing in the background|
Then we proceeded to the foot of the hill to the ancient Greek city of Ephesus. It was built in 10th century BC on the site of the former Arzawan capital by Attic and Ionian Greek colonists. The city flourished after it came under the control of the Roman Republic in 129 BC.
|Stone carving of the goddess Nike|
|The archaeological site is spread over a large area. The street leading to the Celsus library.|
|Temple of Hadrian in the background|
|No prizes for guessing what I am sitting on!|
|The library of Celsus|
|The amphitheatre that seats 25,000 spectators!|
Then it was lunch and a stop at a shop specializing in turkish delights before continuing our journey to the thermal pools in Pamukkale, meaning "cotton castle". It is a natural site in Denizli Province, famous for its hot springs and white terraces of travertine, a carbonate mineral left by the flowing water. The ancient Greco-Roman city of Hieapolis was built on top of the white 'castle' and can be seen from afar. The place has been drawing the weary to its thermal springs since the time of Classical antiquity. The Turkish name refers to the surface of the shimmering, snow-white limestone, shaped over millenia by calcium-rich springs. Dripping slowly down the vast mountainside, mineral-rich waters foam and collect in terraces, spilling over cascades of stalactites into milky pools below.
After a long taxing day with alot of walking, we checked into the Pam Thermal Hotel. This hotel like many in the area has its own thermal spring pools. There's even hot spring water piped to the hotel room bathroom.