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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Discovering Aphrodisias with Neyzen: One of Turkey's Hidden Secrets

The next leg of our Turkey land tour with Neyzen Travel took us to the awe inspiring ancient site of Aphrodisias where were marvelled at the largest and best preserved ancient stadium in the world! Aphrodisias was also the location of a sculpture academy which was famous throughout the ancient world and where a large number of statues in remarkable condition have been discovered! We were so lucky to have Aphrodisias almost all to ourselves as it is one of the quieter ancient sites in Turkey but we certainly think it is one of the best and would highly recommend adding this amazing site to your Turkey itinerary!



APHRODISIAS
The beautiful city Aphrodisias is one of the finest archaeological sites of Anatolia Turkey and is both partly excavated and partly undiscovered. The name of the city is derived from the goddess of love, Aphrodite who was also called Venus by the Romans and who had her famous sanctuary here. The site is located about an hour and half from popular Ephesus and was one of the best preserved ancient sites we visited in Turkey. Whilst it remains one of the lesser visited sites in Turkey it was certainly one of our favourites!

How Aphrodisias was found is quite surprising, unusual and funny! It was discovered by a Turkish photographer in the 1950s who stumbled across a village where he discovered locals living amongst the ruins, using ancient pillars to hold up their houses and ancient tombs for troughs for their cattle! There is a fantastic exhibition in the building opposite the museum at Aphrodisias where you can see just how the site was when it was first discovered and truly understand how remarkable it is!

Without a doubt the most incredible part of Aphrodisias today is the Roman Stadium which is still standing despite earthquake damage in the 7th century! The stadium would have seated 30,000 people and is one of the largest and best preserved ancient stadiums in the world! There are many other fascinating sites of interest in Aphrodisias including temples, baths, churches, public squares, streets and a monumental gateway from 200 CE. In addition to the stadium, Aphrodisias is also know for the Aphrodisian Sculpture Academy which was famous throughout the Roman empire! The Hellenistic and Roman buildings and statues at Aphrodisias were crafted from the locally-quarried blue and white marble which is of such good quality that a lot of the statues that have been uncovered here were discovered in remarkable condition!
















APRODISIAS MUSEUM
There is also a fantastic museum on site which showcases pieces that have been taken from the excavations in Aphrodisias. The museum features incredible statues, both complete and incomplete, tombs, ceramics, coins, glasswear and many other artefacts uncovered on the site, some even dating back to 5,000 BC and the Bronze Age!







Once we'd finished in Aphrodisias we had lunch enroute to Pamukkale in the town of Karacasu. We stopped at a fantastic pide restaurant called Sirin where we indulged in both savoury pides as well as a dessert pide which was both Dan and my favourite dessert in all of our time in Turkey! We were so happy to be trying all these fantastic Turkish foods in the best, local, authentic restaurants!




We were spending the night in Pamukkale at the luxurious Richmond Pamukkale Thermal Hotel which is one of the most exquisite 5-Star hotels in the region. It is located only 3km away from the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Pamukkale which we would be visiting in the morning. The hotel offers its guests an exclusive service with the highest quality comfort and superior care that is intrinsic to the Richmond brand and is located among lush, green grounds with the benefit of Pamukkale's healthy healing waters.



The hotel is enormous with 297 Standard rooms, 8 Corner suites, 6 Junior suites, a Presidential suite and 3 Accessible rooms. We were staying in one of the beautiful Corner Suites which was a comfortable and spacious suite that comprised of a bedroom, a lounge and a large marble bathroom. The room was elegantly decorated and also featured a large balcony which overlooked the beautiful surrounds. Our room was equipped with air-conditioning, free wireless internet access, a minibar, TV and indulgent toiletries!




Richmond Pamukkale Thermal Hotel offers thermal treatments in their extensive thermal spa area with a sauna, Turkish bath, jacuzzi, massage and an indoor and outdoor thermal pool where the red colored healing waters indigenous to the Karahayit region stay at 37ยบ C all year long! There is also a large, normal outdoor swimming pool. In addition the hotel also has extensive recreational and entertainment facilities including beach volleyball, archery, games, tennis and basketball ensuring there is something for everyone whether you are seeking a relaxing or active holiday!











The hotel has four bars and a restaurant which serves breakfast and dinner in a delicious, rich open buffet style. In addition to the buffet it is also possible to order a la carte meals in the restaurant. We ate both breakfast and dinner in the hotel and were very impressed with the wide selection of food for both meals. There was an excellent choice of both Turkish and International cuisine and all of the food was freshly cooked and of high quality. The restaurant staff were friendly, professional and attentive with serving drinks, replenishing the buffet and clearing away plates.





We had a fantastic, indulgent and relaxing stay at the beautiful Richmond Pamukkale Thermal Hotel after a busy day of sightseeing! Visiting Aphrodisias was an experience neither of us will ever forget and we haven't stopped talking about how incredible it was to experience the enormous ancient stadium with not a single other soul around. Aphrodisias is one of the least visited ancient sites in Turkey but was one of our favourites and we certainly wouldn't have made it there on our own so were again very pleased with our amazing personalised itinerary that Neyzen helped us to create! Tomorrow we're off to Hierapolis and Pamukkale which I am SO excited about as I've dreamt about visiting the 'Cotton Castle' forever, so stay posted because it is going to be incredible! x

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