Day 89 - Thursday 29th June - Beysehir to Pamukkale

Today we are stopping off at a couple of Greek and Roman ruins. But as we start the day its already starting to get hot.

The first stop is a place called Sagalassos. Its marked on the map as being in the middle of the mountains with no road to it. Tony assures us that there is and has organised for some associates to meet up with us and show us around.

While Sagalassos is due west of Beysehir, we have to go north west first then south west to get there around mountains and lakes. Firstly Beysehir and then Lake Egirdir, climbing and dipping through mountain roads. It cools as we gain altitude and the driving is mostly on deserted roads.

We were met on site by Peter, a lecturer from the Belgian University that is doing much of the archaeological work on site in conjunction with the Turkish government. It is recorded that the site was occupied as early as the 14th century BC. It was occupied by Alexander in the 3rd century BC and much of the architecture of that period is of a Greek style. Later on it came under the control of the Romans and became a major town in the region with around 3000 inhabitants. Its hard to imagine how it gained its wealth as its perched high up in the barren, craggy mountains. But it was on a major southern trade route and an administrative centre.

Peter was trying to cram a 4 hour tour into 2 hours and spoke non stop. The ruins have mostly been left in place. A few have been restored. Apparently the rule is that something does not get restored until you have 85% original parts. It’s clear from our travels that this rule is not universally applied. The city suffered major earthquakes in the 3rd and 6th centuries which eventually lead to its demise as the water from mountain springs ceased or significantly deteriorated. From there the inhabitants moved down the hill onto what I would have considered more hospitable land.

The route from Sagalassos to Pamukkale was not direct. There were three routes. Two around Lake Burbur, and a third direct route marked on the map, across the top of the mountains. We took the indirect, but slightly shorter route around the mountains.

Last time we visited Turkey Loris had no interest in revisiting Pamukkale. Her view was that the white travertine pools and cliffs were too touristy and the Greco- Roman ruins of Heirapolis were less than inspiring. As the temperature at 42c was very authentic, our tour was put off until 5.30 until it was supposedly cooling down. But it was slow to do this.

I thought that Loris had been a bit harsh on the ruins, but not our guide for the afternoon. Unfortunately he was a bookend to Sagalassos Peter. One enthusiastic and knowledgeable, the other – well he may have known something, but he failed to impart it and it was late and hot so his desire to park us at the travertine pools with the other tourists, may just have been misguided.