People have flocked to Hieropolis for centuries to bathe in the hot springs and benefit from their healing properties. It became commonplace for dignitaries to be seen here. The extensive ruins today cover 2 square kilometres and it also boasts one of the best preserved ancient cemeteries in the Anatolia region.Pamukkale - 'Cotton Castle' - is a UNESCO World Heritage site and an impressive natural phenomenon. The white outcrop of travertine stands 160m high, with water cascading down the natural terraces of carbonate minerals. We overnight at Pamukkale.
We transfer (approx 1hr 20mins) to Aprodisias. As its name suggests, Aphrodisias was named after the goddess of love, Aphrodite. Sited near a marble quarry, it became known for its exports of statues and sculptures, which spread its fame around the world. The focal point of the town was the magnificent Temple of Aphrodite. Tragically, it was not man but nature that caused most damage to this once proud city in the form of an earthquake in the 7th century but it still has intriguing ruins and monuments to offer the interested visitor. After our visit we drive to Selcuk, the nearest town to Ephesus. (approx 2hr 15mins) where we overnight.
After a 5 minute transfer we enter the magnificent city of Ephesus.At its zenith in the 2nd century AD Ephesus had a population of 300,000 and was dedicated to the goddess Artemis. Her temple was one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world, until an arsonist destroyed it. Time spent here is another opportunity to see first hand both the scale, skill and intricacy of the Roman craftsmen. We then visit Selcuk, famous for its association with Ephesus, the Seljukian works of art and the Basilica of St John the Apostle, which is one of a number of Biblical sites in Turkey. We return to our accommodation in Selcuk at the end of the day.
Our first stop is Didyma (approx 1hr). The road to Didyma was once a sacred one lined with statues and the city itself was famous for its Oracle and Temple of Apollo in ancient times. One of the best sites, the temple, nearly didn't survive an attack by the Persians in 494BC, which itself was a reprisal following an Ionian Rebellion. It was the next power shift, when Alexander the Great defeated the Persians that prompted a redevelopment of the temple to the extent that it rivalled that at Ephesus. Today remains include columns stretching nearly 60 feet high giving a good indication of the sheer scale of the structure. We then proceed to Miletus itself, once considered one of the wealthiest Greek cities and arguably the birthplace of Greek philosophy. It is also one of the first examples of town planning. There are numerous, well preserved, monuments here, including the Temple of Athena, the Roman Stadium, Roman baths and the Sacred Gate, that formed part of the city's defences from the 5th century BC and gave access to the Sacred Way that led to Didyma. The day ends with our longest transfer, (3hr 30mins) to Dalyan, on the river of the same name.
The ancient harbour city of Kaunos dominated this area for centuries and has left its mark, most prominently with the intricate tombs carved into the rock above the river. The position of many of these tombs, set high up the sheer cliff faces above the river, are a testament to the skill and nerve of workers in these times. Today Kaunos is actually 8km from the coast, due to the silting of the delta. Excavations began here in the 1960s and we can visit the acropolis, the amphitheatre and the Roman baths.
Modern day Dalyan is not only a popular holiday spot, but is of particular ecological importance due to the rich wildlife of the area. Iztuzu beach is a protected breeding ground for loggerhead turtles, declared as such in 1988 to block developers and ensure the safety of these magnificent creatures. These restrictions only come into force at 8pm until 8a.m the following morning, May to October, so it is still possible to enjoy this lovely stretch of coastline. Further boat trips are also available, or there is of course the option just to relax by the pool.