I was taken aback for a while out of amazement for this place. It’s like your very own jacuzzi room in a public place. It turns out that this is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Pamukkale town in Denizli, southwestern Turkey. Pamukkale means cotton-castle in Turkish, and the name was derived from the cascading travertine pools that look like a castle of fluffy cotton. Based on articles and blogs, these terraces are made of calcium-rich springs that dripped slowly down the mountain, which formed the terrace basins.
A friend of mine has been here telling me that this is a famous sight for tourists; therefore, it’s crowded all the time. Based on what I’ve read, Pamukkale alone is attracting 2 million visitors every year. Most visitors anticipate bathing in one of the thermal pools. Therefore people in bikinis and swimming trunks are a typical sighting everywhere. The water in the terrace basins came from a natural hot spring with temperatures that range from 35 to 100 degrees that are rich in minerals. This landscape spans 2,700m long, 600m wide, and 160m high, hence it will take time to explore all the travertines.
According to the blog I’ve read, the gates to Pamukkale opens at 8 o’clock in the morning every day, and the entrance fee (as of Feb 2019) is 35 Turkish Lira (less than 250php). It also recommended staying overnight in the town to support local businesses and visit the place as soon as the gates open to avoid the unbearable crowd. The peak season is usually around June – August, but spring and autumn months are still considered crowded. Winter is totally off-peak and cold, which means less crowded, so it might be the best time to visit if the weather is bearable. A few of the things I took note of is that any kind of footwear is not allowed in the travertines; you need to have your own towel if you plan to dip; there are off-limit sections of travertines; there is a visitor path to follow, and climbing to travertines are not allowed.
Adjacent to the cotton castle is the Hierapolis, which is also a UNESCO site. It is the ruins of an ancient Greek city that dates back to the early 2nd century BC, situated on top of the modern Pamukkale. A few of the main sights in Hierapolis are:
– the Roman theater – which can accommodate approximately 15,000 people
– the ancient baths made from large stone blocks
– the necropolis – which has around 1200 tombs made from limestone
– and Cleopatra’s pool (also a thermal pool) is said to be the most remarkable gift of Marc Anthony to the Egyptian Queen.
Denizli offers two UNESCO world heritage sites in one with so much history and story to tell. Reading articles and blogs in search of a more profound understanding does not suffice, but gives you a lot more reason to visit the place and explore it on your own. Pamukkale and Hierapolis will definitely be scratch off my bucket list right after this pandemic. Stay optimistic!
Featured image is downloaded free from this website.