Pamukkale

The travertine hot springs.

Pamukkale is in inland southeastern Aegean Turkey.

Understand

Pamukkale, which has been used as a spa since the second century BC, literally means "cotton castle" in Turkish.

The travertine features have their origins in the shifting of a fault in the valley of the Menderes river (between here and Denizli). As the fault shifted, very hot springs with a very high mineral content (notably chalk) arose at this location. Apart from the slightly radioactive minerals, the calcium and hydrogen carbonate react to create calcium carbonate (also known as travertine) and limestone. This is what gives Pamukkale its whiteness and created the pools.

It can get quite hot in summer, a hat and especially sunglasses will certainly be very helpful against the sun and the reflecting sun rays from the chalky cascades. On the other hand, the cold winter climate could make the experience slightly uncomfortable. Climbing up the cascades barefoot, with cold water running downstream will be a tough task

Get in

The nearest major city is Denizli, where you will likely arrive first before getting to Pamukkale.

By plane

By train

The nearest train station is in Denizli, which currently has services from Izmir only. The Istanbul service (Pamukkale Express) was suspended in 2008, presumably because of track renovations, and it is not certain when/if the services will re-start.

By bus

Bus to Pamukkale/Denizli can be found from almost all the cities of Turkey. Bus services include water, hot drinks and a snack. There are virtually no bus companies that take you directly to Pamukkale despite what the ticket sellers tell you. The bus will drop you in Denizli and then you have to get on the free minibus to Pamukkale (about 20 km away).

By dolmuş

From Denizli bus station, take a dolmuş, a type of cheap communal taxi that usually seats about 10 (but it's possible they'll squeeze in more), from nearby Denizli. Frequent mini-buses serve the village of Pamukkale in a 20 minute ride. It cost 3 YTL per trip.It is also possible to make rezervation the bus ticket from Pamukkale Village. And the bus company can arrange shuttle bus to bus station if there is enough number of people.

Get around

Even when you're way on the edge of the village, you can reach everything (i.e. the village center and the travertine pools) on foot in about ten to fifteen minutes.

See

Travertines and Hierapolis

Roman theater

There are three entry gates, one at the bottom of the travertines and two at the top. A shuttle will take you between gates for 2 TL. Entry to Hierapolis and the travertines is a single ticket that costs 25 TL (July 2014). Entrance is from 08:00 - 21:00 daily.

The travertine terraces above Pamukkale and below the ancient city of Hierapolis are a UNESCO World Heritage site. This "Cotton Castle" is accessed via a gate near Pamukkale, and the walk up takes about 30 minutes and offers numerous opportunities to soak in pools that are generally no more than a foot deep. Tough pollution control regulations require removing your shoes in order to walk on them (so bring something to put your shoes in!), so the travertines stay white as ever. This job is made tougher in winters when the water flowing down the chalky cascades will be freezing cold.

At the top of the travertines lies the ancient Roman city of Hierapolis. The ruins of the city sprawl over a large area, but sites are well-marked and there are trails that can be easily followed. The 12,000-seat amphitheater is in excellent condition and is a highlight, as are the town gates and main road. In addition, the town is home to the Martyrium of St. Phillip, a pilgrimage site that is supposedly the site where the apostle Philip was martyred and buried. The church at the site is in ruins, but its foundations reveal an unusual octagonal plan.

You can soak in the antique pool for an extra fee (32 TL combination ticket with the travertines and Heiroplolis), it's a hot spring pool that still has sections of the original marble columns in it. Additionally, the museum is housed in the former Roman baths and can be visited for an additiona 5 TL (opening hours 8am-5pm, Tu-Su). It contains three rooms housing some of the artifacts found during excavations of Hierapolis, including sarcophagi.

Other sights

Other than the travertines and Roman city of Hierapolis, places worth a look around Pamukkale are:

Do

Buy

The Pamukkale/Denizli area is famous for its cotton and the homewares. These are becoming sought after world wide (Arnold Schwartzenegger decked out his house in curtains and furnishings specially made in Denizli - so the story goes!) and the best place to go is the town of Buldan, about 30 minutes drive from Pamukkale. Many of the other souvenirs and traditional Turkish wares that you can find in other parts of Turkey are cheaper around Denizli/Pamukkale because they are produced there.

Safak Halı Pazarı : Atatürk Caddesi No 30 tel:+90 258 272 2317 You can find locally handmade carpet and kilim, towel, tablecloths, seramics, onyx, scarfs, many different kind of souvenirs homewares here it also cheap price.

Eat

The best and freshest food is to be found in the small family run pensions, but for a great open air restaurant where you can eat 'borek' the Turkish pancakes and gaze across the valley, try Alis on the main highway just before you come into the town.

Drink

Sleep

There are small family-run pensions at the village south of the travertines. Most have swimming-pools filled with the warm greenish milky water from the travertines. They also offer very delicious Turkish food.

Go next

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