Pamukkale: Two Sites in One!

UNESCO World Heritage Site Pamukkale is actually two sites in one: the travertines and the ruins. The Romans walked from Hierapolis to the mineral water pools two thousand years ago, and you can still do the same today. Because there are two sites in one, why not write two blog posts in one? Usually it’s either Josh or me (so far Turkey’s been more Josh, Bamberg was more me). I had originally posted my bit on the Trip Advisor forums. So let’s start with Josh’s initial post:

After the debacle that was the trip to Bergama we weren’t really sure we wanted to take another overnight trip. But in the end, we determined that we probably ought to go to Pamukkale.

A boring three hour ride later, we saw the white hillside in the distance. Pamukkale is small town built around a hillside of travertine pools. The hill has a natural spring, which brings calcium deposits to the hillside. Over time they deposits coat the hills. The entire hillside looks like a frozen waterfall, although the name Pamukkale means “cotton fortress”. Either way, it is an amazing site to behold and we both agree that the pictures we saw on the Internet don’t do it justice.

There are pools formed on the hill, in which you can swim. Though the water begins hot at the top of the hill, it is fairly cool by the bottom of the hill. Still, in the hot afternoon sun it’s quite refreshing. A trough near the top carries hot water down, and this is probably the most relaxing to sit in.

The Greeks and Romans had a town here called Hieropolis. The ruins sit above the travertines, and we explored them at dusk. The site overall though isn’t very big, but nonetheless we spent four hours and could have spent more. The time genuinely flew by. And really, there are very few places in the world quite like it, and fewer still that will allow you to sit in the pools.

The town apparently used to be a backpacker spot, and there is some vestige of that. We got hassled by a few places as we walked by, albeit in the mellow Turkish way, but there was one place that didn’t hassle us. Needless to say, that’s the place where the travelers had congregated – we don’t like the places that hassle us. It was fairly chill.

It’s tough to convey the sense of coolness that Pamukkale has. It’s a unique sort of place, and a lot of fun. It was well worth going out of our way for. Even though we’re leaving Sirince tomorrow, we’re not quite done with Turkey and still have a couple of stops to come…so more blog updates in rapid succession as October will be busy.

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Just in case you were considering bypassing this UNESCO World Heritage site like we were, don’t! I was so impressed with Pamukkale that I am only posting to say please do visit this incredible place. We stayed overnight and I can’t stress enough how important it is to linger there rather than get bussed in with a tour for the day. Staying overnight was worth it because you can stay as long as you want at the site, and sundown is every bit as spectacular as I have read about. And for two people it doesn’t cost more than a day trip because a double room in town is about 25 euro.

Thanks to all on Trip Advisor who posted tips on visiting Pamukkale because it encouraged and helped plan our visit. We took the advice of some and walked up from town, rather than have our hotel drop us off at the entrance near Hierapolis. We walked up and down the travertines as well as through the ruins. We had 4 hours and that was barely enough–I could easily have stayed all day if we had packed a picnic and next time that is what we will do.

Entrance to the site is 20 lira, which is about 10 Euro. For an extra 22 lira, you can swim in a covered mineral pool (called the “Ancient Pool”) that has a few underwater ruins. Swimming amid toppled columns and Roman roads looked very cool, and you can walk around the pool without having to pay. Having spent hours at the free open-air pools, neither of us were tempted to go in.

I also noted how easy it would have been to visit Pamukkale en route to Cappadocia from Selcuk (or somewhere else) because the night bus leaves at around 11PM and you can leave bags in the bus company office. That would give you more than enough time to linger at the site and eat dinner before the bus.

We chose the Melrose Allgau Hotel as the base of operations. The hotel is #1 on Trip Advisor and for good reason: value and service. Spacious doubles have a balcony and a real bathroom as well as extras like SatTV, A/C, and blow dryers and the price is 25 Euro/night.

Getting to Pamukkale from Selcuk was very easy because there is a direct bus. It takes 3 hours each way.

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