Mineral water, heated by the bowels of the earth to +30 … +100 ° C, for thousands of years flowed down the slopes of the plateau, forming travertines – small natural pools of bizarre shape with limestone rims. The springs, supersaturated with calcium bicarbonate, form a precipitate of the purest snow-white color on the surface. In addition to calcium, water is also rich in other chemical elements and compounds: magnesium, hydrocarbon, sodium sulfate. For many centuries, this white cover has covered the entire slope of the plateau, and today Pamukkale, which means “cotton castle” in Turkish, really looks like a huge mountain of cotton, spread out by mythical giants for drying. In fact, the natural phenomenon was formed due to the strongest earthquakes that displaced rocks and formed faults through which underground waters rushed to the surface.
In the II century, the Romans built the city of Hierapolis next to the travertines, which later became a resort. For many decades, excavations have been conducted in the vicinity of the springs, shedding light on the history of the ancient settlement. In 2012, archaeologists found the grave of the Basilica of St. Philip, and a year later they discovered Pluto’s cave – a place that in ancient times was considered the entrance to the Underworld.
Ancient HierapolisAmphitheater in Hierapolis
Not so long ago, it was possible to come to Pamukkale only with a one-day excursion, but with the appearance of hotels and health centers on its territory, streams of tourists rushed here. All hotels have spa salons, where wellness sessions are conducted by highly qualified medical specialists.
Entrance to Pamukkale
Pamukkale is full of souvenir stalls and the atmosphere is always festive. But popularity also has a negative side: the influx of visitors is too great, many tend to swim in the springs without washing off the tanning oil; all this leads to pollution and destruction of the unique natural complex.
Now only a narrow passage has been left for visitors, allowing them to see all the beauties up close. But walking is allowed only barefoot, and this is not an easy test – feet slip. Swimming is also allowed only in a designated area. Water again flows down the terraces, reservoirs and gradually their former whiteness returns.
Why to go
People come to the thermal springs of Pamukkale not only to see and capture the fantastic beauty of the unique place, but also to improve their health in the healing water, from which, according to legend, Cleopatra herself took a bath. The resort also organizes health courses, including mud therapy, mineral water intake and anti-aging procedures. There are three types of spring water, each of which helps in the treatment of certain ailments: rickets, rheumatism, cardiovascular and gastrointestinal diseases, psoriasis, eczema; relieves fatigue and stress.
If you want to fully enjoy the unreal splendor of the plateau, try to come here at sunrise or at sunset – then you will see it not snow-white, but pink.
Main gate to Hierapolis
A short distance separates the resort from the ancient monument – the city of Hierapolis, founded more than 4000 years ago. There are several interesting objects on its territory:
- An amphitheater that can accommodate 15,000 people;
- A necropolis with various types of burials – crypts, graves and sarcophagi;
- Temple of Apollo built in 206. The history of the creation of such religious buildings dedicated to the God of Light is curious – they were always erected in seismically active places, where poisonous fumes escaped from the fracture of the earth’s crust. The priests, whom the believers turned to for help, released a bird into the temple and implored Apollo to kill it as proof of their connection with God. The bird died from gas poisoning, confirming the strength of the priest.
- Church of St. Philip built in the IV century. It is believed that the tomb of the apostle is located near the sanctuary, but so far it has not been found.
Museum “Hierapolis” with beautiful antique statues and bas-reliefs, sarcophagi and a collection of ancient coins.
- Sanctuary of Pluto.
AmphitheaterRuins of the Temple of Apollo
NecropolisRuins of the temple of St. PhilipSanctuary of Pluto
Archaeological research continues on the territory of the ancient polis and at the present time.
Cleopatra’s pool welcomes those suffering from the time of the Roman Empire. The origin of the outdoor jacuzzi is man-made; marble fragments of Roman baths still lie at the bottom of the reservoir. The current look of the pool was recreated in the 60s of the last century. The reservoir is divided by a rope into two halves – deep and shallow. The maximum depth of the pool is 3 meters, the water temperature is + 34 … + 36 °. In the shallow part of the reservoir, you can relax sitting on large stones. For the comfort of visitors, the pool is equipped with ropes, on which it is pleasant to hang and relax.
Before entering the reservoir, it is recommended to visit the showers located here, next to which there are lockers for clothes.
The ruins of the ancient city of Laodicea, founded in the 3rd century BC, lie 13 kilometers from Pamukkale. e. Frequent earthquakes destroyed the city, now in its place you can see the remains of a temple of nymphs, thermal baths, a stadium and two theaters.
The resort has a large thermal complex Pamukkale Thermal Baths, open daily from 08.00 to 20.00, entrance costs $ 6.5.
At the top of the slope there is another health center, Karhait, which is very popular among tourists, because for healing procedures, water from three sources of different composition is used here.
View of Pamukkale and surroundingsPamukkale Museum
The Pamukkale Museum, located in the complex of ancient thermae, is open all days except Monday, from 08.00 to 20.00, the entrance ticket costs about $ 1.
In Pamukkale, you can choose a hotel of any category available to you: from budget hostels to luxury hotels.
Some hotels in Pamukkale:
- Tripolis **** is a large comfortable hotel with its own thermal pool and wellness center. Price from $ 60 per room.
- Pamuksu Hotel *** – a spacious panoramic pool; national and vegetarian cuisine; services of a massage therapist. The cost of the room is from 35 $.
- Melrose Viewpoint – 700 meters from the springs, price from $ 45 per room.
- Hal-Tur Hotel – great views of travertine; Turkish, vegetarian and Asian cuisine; own thermal springs and pools; the room costs from $ 50.
Finding a catering establishment to your liking in Pamukkale will not be a problem – the town has a good selection of cafes and restaurants.
The resort has a sufficient number of souvenir shops offering cotton, leather, onyx and ceramics.
Travertines, formed from brittle limestone, can easily collapse under external influences, so swimming in them is prohibited. You can only walk here barefoot and only in a specially designated place. For those wishing to undergo procedures in the spring, there is a separate place at the base of the plateau – the so-called Cleopatra pool.
Entrance to travertines is available around the clock and costs 25 liras (about $ 9), bathing in the spring is 30 liras (about $ 11) for adults, and 13 liras ($ 4.5) for children from 6 to 12 years old. Young tourists under 6 years old admit free of charge. You can buy a ticket in advance on the official website of the resort www.pamukkale.com.tr . Entrance fees are charged only during daylight hours.
You can get to the springs in two ways: climb the mountain from Pamukkale near the lake or go through the entrance located next to the northern necropolis of Hierapolis. In the first case, visitors take off their shoes immediately (this is controlled by a strict guard), and in the second, they will need to take off their shoes directly near the travertines, to which they will have to walk for a long time along the ruins of the ancient city.
If you decide to go to Pamukkale as part of an organized group, then be aware that the cost of an excursion offered by a hotel guide will be 2 or even 3 times more expensive than a similar offer in a street agency. Remember that you did not purchase medical insurance from a tour operator, but from an insurance company, and it is valid throughout the country. If your hotel guide insists that in the event of an accident during an excursion with a third-party travel agency, you will be deprived of medical assistance, then he is disingenuous and simply does not want to lose his commission.
Be prepared for the fact that during any excursion you will definitely be taken to factories and shops, where the goods on offer are sold at much higher prices than in other places. On the way back, there will be obligatory stops at the wineries, so you will not have much time for the tour of the resort itself, although you will pay a rather large amount for visiting it ($ 80-120). In addition, you will arrive at the sights at lunchtime, when tourist flows are concentrated there, and it will be quite difficult to appreciate all the beauty of this place. Therefore, it is better to purchase excursions only with a visit to Pamukkale or go there on your own early in the morning.
Going to the resort, be sure to take dark glasses, as the snow-white coating of the slope reflects sunlight, which is noticeably irritating to the eyes; shoe bag; a towel, otherwise, if you swim in the pool of the Egyptian queen, you will have to buy it at a local shop at a fabulous price; swimsuit; sun cover; drinking water.
The best time to visit the springs is spring or early autumn, when there are no crowds of tourists and it is not so hot.
In Pamukkale, Denizli and Buldan (30 kilometers from the resort) you can buy fine cotton products – hats, tablecloths, clothes, curtains, stoles.
How to get there
By plane – Istanbul and Denizli are connected by direct flights, flight time – 1 hour 10 minutes, flights are operated twice a day. The ticket costs from 40 to 120 liras, depending on the airline. The planes arrive at ardak airport, 65 kilometers from Denizli, from where shuttles (10 liras) and taxis (70 lira, at night the cost increases by 50%) follow to Pamukkale. It is more profitable to order a taxi online, for example, in KiwiTaxi – you will know the exact fare and you can cooperate with fellow travelers.
By bus – from the central bus station of Antalya Otogar every half hour, starting at 07.30 and ending at 01.30, there are flights through Denizli. The bus covers a distance of 224 kilometers in 3-4 hours. If you have purchased a direct ticket to Pamukkale, then at the bus station in Denizli you will be transferred to a bus to your destination, you do not need to pay anything else. If you paid for the trip only to Denizli, then from there you will need to take a direct bus to Pamukkale.
Bus service connects Denizli with many resort cities of Turkey – Kemer, Alanya, Marmaris and others.
If you are traveling by car, then you need to take the D350 / E87 and D585. From Denizli you need to turn left onto the D320 road and follow the directions for Hierapolis, Pamukkale.