I had seen pictures of Pamukkale before in different “Places you must see before you die” type of travel lists but I wasn’t aware that it was located in Turkey. So when planning my Turkey trip I had to make sure to include it in the places I would visit.
Pamukkale, which means “cotton castle” in Turkish, is a little town in southwest Turkey home to the famous hot springs that form a series of terraces as the water flows down. The composition of these springs is limestone and calcium carbonate, which gives the pools a beautiful white coating.
Attracted by this natural site, the Romans constructed the town of “Hierapolis” of which you can see the ruins at the top of the hill.
A visit of this site will take no more than 3 hours, to walk up the hill through the main pathway along which you will find several artificial pools that you can bathe in.
The real terraces were banned for visitors when the site became a UNESCO World Heritage in 1988 in order to protect it. As I had always seen pictures of people bathing in the terraces this came as a surprise and little bit of a disappointment, but for the conservation of the place it’s a measure that had to be taken.
At the top of the site you will find the Hierapolis ruins, a beautiful garden to stroll around, and for an extra 30 Liras you can dive into the swimming pool the Romans used to bathe in.
A few tips for your visit,
- Try to make your visit as early as possible to avoid too many tourists.
- For a beautiful view, walk around the garden at the top.
- There are no changing rooms at the entrance of the site so make sure you have your bathing suit on.
- Shoes are not allowed on the way up
Keep in mind that this place does not look like what you see in most pictures. You can find dried out travertines and the pools you go into are man made. Nevertheless, it’s still a beautiful place and humans are the only ones to blame for its deterioration. But overall I would say a visit is worthwhile if you are in the area. I got in by bus from Selcuk and later made my way, by bus once again, to Antalya on the Mediterranean coast.