Selcuk is only 5 km from Ephesus however many people bypass this traditional township which is a real shame (Imaginative Traveller tours actually overnight here while visiting Ephesus). It is home to the Ephesus museum displaying excavations from the ancient city. The Virgin Mary House is also located in Selcuk.
This is said to be the final resting place of the Virgin Mary 4 years after Jesus crucifixion. Pilgrims and nuns still worship here and in 2006 Pope Benedict XVI celebrated mass here. You can light a prayer candle, drink from the holy water and write a wish on the wish wall.
Sirence is 20 minutes from Ephesus and was once a Greek village. The small Greek houses span up the mountainside and are now inhabited by the Turks. There is a small mosque you can visit and an ancient church. The village is surrounded by vineyards and olive groves. The villagers produce their own sweet wine. The locals are overwhelmingly friendly and welcoming.
Pamukkale is further inland - a three hour drive from Kusadasi. The drive itself is an eye-catching experience as you drive through many untouched traditional Turkish villages and some beautiful countryside. Pamukkale was always one of the hardest things I have ever had to explain as no words can do this site justice. As you turn the corner and catch your first glimpse of Pamukkale it looks as if a layered cake, sparkling in the sunlight, has been placed halfway up a mountain. Pamukkale is also known as ‘cotton castle’ and you will se why....
Close up, you can see the crystal rock pools which have formed over hundreds of years by the flowing water containing minerals. These waters are said to have healing powers and remain at a warm 34°c.
At the site you can also take a dip in Cleopatra’s pool. This beautiful pool actually has ancient ruins lying at the bottom beneath the warm water.
Hierapolis was the ancient Greek city on top of the hot springs. Turks would travel from all over the country to the baths to soothe their ailments. It is now a World Heritage Site.
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