37.9137° N, 29.1187° E
On the West side of Turkey, one of the most extraordinary natural wonders of the world from flying above Pamukkale a large chalky white snow looking mountain stands high between some dry grass and land, with a different shade of pink red every sunset! “Cotton Palace” is the name they have named this town directly translated from Turkish, and it sure does look like its made of cotton!
So is it salt or snow?
Pamakkale’s travertine terrace flows pumps from below grounds and flows mineral-rich thermal waters starting from 100 degree celsius at the top of the mountain cooling to 33degree celsius when reaching the basins nearer the bottom. The minerals inside this water is called calcite-laden, which settles into a white coloured salt deposit. Since over one million years ago, hot springs at the top of the mountain have left their mineral deposits and formed basins over time retaining water and creating pools.
The deposits sink to the bottom of these pools, and are a thick sticky gooey residue, said to have natural healing properties for blood pressure, skin disorders and heart disease! This is why you will notice some tourists bathing in a pool and scraping out the gooey deposits to rub all over their body!
Once a Greek Roman Spa City, Hierapolis spa and it’s preserved ruins attracts over 2 million tourists a year and has been made a Unesco Word Heritage site. During the end of the 2nd Century, the Kings used this natural thermal spa from the results of an earthquake. If you pay the entrance fee (separate to the travertine unless you buy a package), you can bathe here just like the Romans once did, the pool is mineral filled and warm (around 36C).
Further up from this Antique Pool you will discover some ancient ruins if you keep hiking upwards!
Where to start?
You cannot miss this glowing white mountain standing the middle of Pamukkale- pink during dusk reflecting the sunset.
The best way to explore the ancient site is starting from the south gate at the bottom of the mountain, and walking up the travertine path which has slightly been adjusted by man. Some of the site has been ruined by tourism, become inaccessible and protected, and possibly too dangerous to climb. If you go off the path too much or climb too high the security guards will blow their whistle at you!
- Bring swimswear if you want to enjoy the thermal baths and antique pool – theres not much enjoyment only watching others splash around!
- To protect the site from further eroding and damage even more you must take off shoes and sandals, so bring a waterproof bag to carry and protect your belongings and shoes with!
- Bring waterproof sunscreen as the sun is harsh during hotter months
- Allow a good half of day minimum to enjoy the whole site of travertines, pools and ruins
How to avoid the crowds
At noon and at dusk are the busiest periods, the whole site was overfilled with tours and day trippers. The best time to go was at 8am when the site opens, and you would need to stay in the village overnight for that.
Most people do a day tour here from Istanbul (with a flight arriving in Denizil at 8am), but we chose to plan it ourselves and stayed the night – we felt more free this way. The day tour doesn’t include flights so you usually still need to book your own flights, leaving very very early and coming back at night. We also found the hotels in Pamukkale actually cheaper than in Istanbul so it worked out! Unfortunately the economy of Pamukkale is in decline (which is also why the hotels are cheap), hence you will notice the abandoned hotel resort at bottom of the mountain when looking down from the top!
*Please note there are no direct flights from Pamukkale to Cappadocia, we had to fly back to Istanbul to transit.
Entrance Fees of 2018
Hierapolis/Pamukkale travertines joint site entry fee: 25TL (around £6).
November -March 6am-6.30pm
Antique pool entry fee: 32TL (around £7.50).
November -March 8am-5.30pm
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