We walked first through the ancient Greco-Roman and Byzantine city of Hierapolis and then found our way to the gleaming white terraces of the hot springs that steamed in the bright afternoon and again in the falling sun.
There are just few facts known of the ‘Holy city.’ While walking through I found myself wanting to know more about the people who lived there – what teachings, beliefs, and practices ruled their daily lives and what they thought about the world to come.
I wanted to close my eyes and then, on opening, be transported back to the era when all was alive here. I kept thinking to myself what and how much became lost from this place when everything – all wisdom, practices, and rituals – fell into ruins.
I asked Matthieu who he thought to be more intelligent – our generation now or the people who lived in antiquity. Now we have our technology and science, which are pretty extraordinary, but back then they knew more about natural materials – stones, the ground, the sun, the moon, and the stars. They lived more holistically and in tune to what lay around them.
These people built monuments, houses, and theatres that have withstood weathers over thousands of years – of which are remarkably beautiful. Nothing was done that was not purposeful and everything was faired with care and executed precisely and intelligently.
Pamukkale – which means ‘Cotton Castle’ in Turkish – made me feel out of this world. I had never seen anything quite as beautiful. The uniqueness of the springs was stunning and extremely special.
The hot springs arose here from a crack in the earths crust in the valley of the Menderes River below. Water, high in mineral content, pooled on these cliffs and formed travertine – a form of limestone made by the rapid precipitation of calcium carbonate. The thermal baths have been used as a spa ever since 2nd century BC.
Most of the year Pamukkale is brimming with tourism. People come from all over the world to marvel the beauty and I completely understand and fell for the same opportunity.
At one point in time these baths were used purposefully by the inhabitants of Hierapolis. A day pass into Pamukkale will now cost you twenty five Turkish Lira.
As I write now retrospectively something comes to mind. In our own distant future will our current civilizations fall into ruins as passively as they seemed to have fallen before? Will our remnants be as interesting or splendid? Are the bones of our cities as interesting? Do they have something to say?
Maybe the people of antiquity were more intelligent because they knew what would last and what was sustainable. They lived close to nature and they did not try to defy or extract the earth’s resources in their entirety. They used what the earth gave them and they respected what it could not. They appreciated and lived aside of beauty – which was then respected.
I think of the future of the world and of its potential beauty if all places of natural wonder are sequestered into the small corners of the globe, if urbanization rules preservation, and if consumerism becomes king. It makes me want to pick up my guitar and sing aloud Joni Mitchell’s song Big Yellow Taxi ..
I dream of a future where the beauty of nature and preserving what has been given to us trumps consumeristic need and demand. I see more people living closer and in harmony with the earth.
How we build our dwellings and how we live in relation to nature says so much about our values and believes. When we are just given the sun, the sky, and the natural precipitation of minerals we get places like this. Living in our cities, and being stuck there as if glued, it is no wonder places like Pamukkale seem like magic.