After the other-worldly landscapes of Cappadocia I didn’t expect to be stunned by Turkey again so soon, but as we drove towards the glinting white terraces of Pamukkale I couldn’t quite believe my eyes. Cascading down a hillside, Pamukkale’s travertines are formed by water and minerals from hot springs. Not only is this a beautiful natural sight, but in the same area are the ruins of the ancient city of Hierapolis, which was built at the head of Pamukkale to take advantage of the hot springs.
Coming from New Zealand, I was immediately reminded of the Pink and White Terraces of Rotorua, which were destroyed in a huge volcanic eruption in 1886. Now I have a much better idea of how they may have looked!
The girls and me at Pamukkale
The name Pamukkale means ‘Cotton Castle’ in Turkish and it’s easy to see the inspiration, as the gorgeous white terraces extend down the hill to the plain below. The waters are continually flowing and I was pleasantly surprised by how warm the pools at the top were!
Unfortunately the gorgeous even shape of the pools down the hillside is not natural – parts of the terraces were rebuilt after the closure of hotels in the 1980s that were leaching chemicals into the rock. Now there are few modern buildings and you are free to walk down the sculpted paths with warm water flowing over your toes – just watch your step!
Poppies amongst the ruins of Hierapolis
Hierapolis was first settled in the second century BC and established as a thermal spa, before growing significantly under Roman rule in the second and third centuries AD. Just like today, the people of the area appreciated a good soak and there were many baths built to take advantage of the springs. The complex also included theatres and temples, and the large hillside theatre is still used today for performances.
Cleopatra’s pool is still open for bathing and is situated in a gorgeous spot, although sadly we didn’t have time to take advantage of its therapeutic waters. Just the sight of it was relaxing!
Have you visited any hot springs and had a swim for yourself?
Bits & Pieces
Pamukkale is located in Denizli Province, an hour’s flight or approx 9 hours drive from Istanbul
Pamukkale and Hierapolis are a World Heritage Site – for more information click here