The village of Pamukkale, which translates to “cotton castle,” was where we headed to after Cappadocia. After our amazing time awing at the stunning landscape of Cappadocia, I didn’t think anything else could match up to it. However, Pamukkale was so unique in it’s own way that I believe it’s one of the most beautiful natural sites in the world. It’s much smaller than Cappadocia and you really only need one full day to enjoy the natural beauty it offers.
Pamukkale’s white deposits stretch approximately 2,700m in length, 600m in width and 160m in height. The white slopes and terraces that give Pamukkale its special allure are actually Travertine, a terrestrial sedimentary rock, formed by the precipitation of carbonate minerals from geothermal hot-springs.
The travertine at Pamukkale is white as snow and you really don’t believe it’s not snow until you step on it. The town is located at the bottom of the slopes just a one minute walk away; although, in the mid-1900’s hotels were built at the top over the ancient ruins of Hierapolis and motor bikes were allowed to drive down the slopes causing significant damage. Since then, it’s been declared a World Heritage Site, the hotels were removed, and new regulations are strictly enforced. Only one of the old hotel’s hot-water swimming pools was left and is filled with ancient stone remains. The pool is called “Ancient Pool” and the entrance ticket to swim in it costs more than the entrance ticket for the entire site! New regulations stipulate removing your shoes and socks when walking on the white surfaces and most of the pools have been closed to visitors.
We arrived in the morning to beat the crowds but noticed the pools were empty. About an hour after we arrived workers began to block off and divert the main stream of thermal water into all of the pools filling them up. Of course, as he did this, we went from being one of a couple tourists there to one of hundreds of tourists. We had read blogs that Pamukkale is dead in mid-November, especially midweek. I was a little disappointed with all the people but it confirmed my suspicion that even in low season places are becoming crowded around the world.
While the busloads of people filled the pools we took the opportunity to wander around the ruins of the ancient Greco-Roman and Byzantine city of Hierapolis. The city was founded as a thermal spa early in the 2nd century BC and became a healing centre where doctors used the thermal springs as treatment. After a major earthquake destroyed the city n 17 AD, the city was rebuilt and attained its present Roman-style appearance. By 215 AD thousands of people were visiting to benefit from the medicinal properties of the hot springs. It’s rumored that Cleopatra herself swam in the ancient pools and while I don’t necessarily believe that, it’s still pretty awesome to think that we swam in the same pools as people have been doing for not hundreds but thousands of years ago.
When the hoards of tourists started to disperse from the pools we changed into our swimsuits to take their place. I noticed a few girls in gorgeous dresses taking photos against the white walls and blue water (the perfect backdrop). I’ve always been somewhat envious of people who get all dressed up at an attraction and end up with the perfect photo. I know, it’s ridiculous, but I can still remember seeing a girl in a beautiful flowing long dress at Angkor Watt while I was dressed in my sweaty baggy ‘crazy-pants.’ I don’t want the photo just for the two minutes of fame on social media, but as a memoir to frame and hang on the wall. As much as I’m OK with our travelling outfits, I’d rather not have every photo in the same clothes. If I could have gone in and out on the same entrance ticket I would have just walked back to our hotel and grabbed a dress. Because let’s be honest, a fancy dress isn’t always the most practical thing to be wearing for a full day adventure – which is generally where you the see the most photo-worthy places. Anyways, we settled on the fact that I had a bright pink bikini that would also contrast amazingly with the background and did a little photo shoot of our own. Anyways, that’s probably the most self-absorbed paragraph I’ve ever written so let’s move on to photographs.
Check out more photos on Flickr
How did we get there: Flight: Kayseri-Istanbul-Denizli (Pegasus)
Additional transport: Airport shuttles
Transport cost: Flight: $65 CAD per person; Other: $24 CAD per person
Recommended nights: 2 nights
Accommodation: Sunrise Aya Hotel at $30 CAD per night
Average Cost per day: $96 CAD/day for two people