Pamukkale is one of Turkey’s greatest natural and historical treasures. And if you love nature, green travel to this geological phenomenon is sure to blow you away. Here are some Pamukkale facts you should know before you go-

Known as the Cotton Castle

Aptly named the Cotton Castle, this surreal landscape made up of mineral forests, petrified waterfalls and a series of terraced basins was created by calcite-laden waters derived from seventeen hot springs. The dazzling white travertines of hard calcium deposits resemble a mountain of snow from a distance. These travertine terraces form pools of hot water that cascade over the cliffs.

Turkey-Pamukkale-Vera Kratochvil-CC via Public Domain - 1024 x 682

Pamukkale photo by Ana Raquel S. Hernandes – CC2.0 via Flickr

Ancient Spa Town 

Pamukkale has been a spa since the Romans built the spa city of Hierapolis around a sacred warm-water spring. The Antique Pool is still there, littered with marble columns from the Roman Temple of Apollo and you can swim in it as the Romans once did.

Turkey-Pamukkale-Esther Lee - CC2.0 via Flickr

Pamukkale photo by Esther Lee – CC2.0 via Flickr

Hot Springs Marvel of Minerals 

The mineral-rich Pamukkale hot spring waters are high in calcium, magnesium sulfate and bicarbonate. Water temperature is 36 to 38 degrees Celsius with a pH of 6. and a total mineral content of 2,430 mg/lt.

The water is said to help recovery from high blood pressure, kidney stones, stroke, rheumatism, nervous and physical exhaustion, eye and skin diseases, circulatory problems, digestive maladies, nutritional disorders and chronic disorders.

Turkey-Pamukkale-Sunset-Esther Lee - CC2.0 via Flickr

Pamukkale at Sunset photo by Esther Lee – CC2.0 via Flickr

Historical City

First founded by King Eumenes II of Pergamon soon after 190 BC, Hierapolis was originally a fortified military colony. But the city enjoyed its greatest prosperity during the 2nd and 3rd century when, with its natural hot springs, it became an popular spa centre.

The ruins of a grand colonnaded street are parallel to the travertines for just over 1 km, extending between the necropolis to the north and a Byzantine church at the southern end. From the church, you come to the Temple of Apollo and its famed Hell’s Gate or Plutonium – a cave beneath the temple that was a source of poisonous gas.

Turkey-Pamukkale-By Antoine Taveneaux via Wikimedia Commons

Pamukkale photo by Antoine Taveneaux via Wikimedia Commons

On a slope above the rest of the Hierapolis ruins is the mighty theatre with its facade over 100 meters long and incorporating two tiers of seating, each with 26 rows. Built during the reigns of the Roman Emperors Hadrian and Septimus Severus, the theatre is incredibly well preserved, retaining much of its original detail with the imperial VIP boxes, and some decorative panels along the stage still surviving.

Turkey-Pamukkale-Teatro de Hierapolis-Ana Raquel S. Hernandes - CC2.0 via Flickr

Teatro de Hierapolis photo by Ana Raquel S. Hernandes – CC2.0 via Flickr

Pamukkale’s Sacred Pool

If you want to partake in some hot pool soaking just like the Romans did, then look no further. Pamukkale’s Antique Pool (beside the Temple of Apollo) allows you to soothe those travel weary muscles in mineral-rich hot spring waters that are a steady 36 degrees Celsius. With half-submerged columns and chunks of fallen marble scattered around you in the water, this could be the most time-traveling and surreal spa experience you’ll ever have, .

Turkey-Pamukkale-Cleopatra Thermal pool- by Shankar s.-CC 2.0 via Flickr

Cleopatra Thermal pool photo by Shankar s.-CC 2.0 via Flickr

UNESCO World Heritage Site

Pamukkale and Hierapolis were jointly declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988. To protect and preserve this magnificent ancient treasure, hotel buildings and structures around the thermal pool were demolished, and entry of private vehicles into the site forbidden. Visitor access to the travertine terraces has been limited to sustain the water flow and maintain the colour and structure of the travertine terraces. Areas where visitors can bathe in the hot springs are clearly demarcated.

Turkey-Pamukkale-Ana Raquel S. Hernandes - CC2.0 via Flickr

Pamukkale photo by Ana Raquel S. Hernandes – CC2.0 via Flickr

Tips for Visitors

  • From Istanbul, you can catch an hour and a quarter early morning flight that arrives in Denizli (located 11 miles from Pamukkale)
  • Visitors must traverse the terraces barefoot (to prevent eroding or staining the delicate calcite deposits) so bring your footwear (and everything else you’ll need for exploring the ancient ruins) along in a bag.
  • Wear swimwear allows you to enjoy the warm, aquamarine pools en-route, and later swim in the antique pool at the top of the terracing.
  • Pamukkale can get extremely busy during the peak season between June and August. The crowds can be largely avoided by visiting later in the afternoon.