One of Turkey’s most famous natural wonders, the pure white travertine terraces of Pamukkale (“Cotton Castle” in English) cascade down the slope looking like an out-of-place snowfield amid the green landscape. Although the travertines are themselves a highlight of a Turkey trip, the vast and rambling ruins of Roman Hierapolis, an ancient spa town, lie on the top of this calcite hill, providing another reason to visit. For the best photographs, come at dusk when the travertines glow as the sun sinks below the horizon.
Places to Visit in Pamukkale
The dazzling white calcite cliff of Pamukkale was created by calcium deposits from the area’s hot springs. In the same way that stalactites form within limestone caves, the deposits grow on the steep slopes, gradually fanning out to form natural terraces. Pamukkale means “cotton castle,” and the blinding white color of these travertines do look like a bizarre natural fortress of sorts. The best way to do your sightseeing here is to walk (barefoot only) from the base of the calcite mountain up the entire cliff ridge. The terraces at the upper levels hold pools of water, which you can sit in.
2-) Hierapolis Ancient City
First founded by King Eumenes II of Pergamon soon after 190 BC, Hierapolis was originally a fortified military colony. The original city was destroyed by an earthquake in AD 60, and it was after the rebuilding that its glory days began. The city enjoyed its greatest prosperity during the 2nd and 3rd century when, with its on-tap natural hot springs, it became an important spa center. The remains of a grand colonnaded street runs parallel to the travertines below for just over one kilometer, extending between the necropolis to the north and a Byzantine church at the southern end. From the church, if you take the eastern path, you come to the Temple of Apollo and its famed Plutonium (a cave beneath the temple that was a source of poisonous gas). Here, the priests would consult the oracle, bringing in birds and small animals killed by the rising gas. Today, nothing much survives of either. East from the remnants of the Agora is the Octagonal Martyrium of the Apostle Philip, built on the spot where the saint and his children were supposedly martyred after he remonstrated with the pagan-worshippers of Hierapolis.
3-) Antique Pool
If you want to partake in some restorative hot pool soaking just like the Romans did – but without the togas – then look no further. Pamukkale’s Antique Pool (beside the Temple of Apollo) allows you to soothe those weary travel muscles in mineral-rich hot spring water that is a steady 36°C. It’s possibly the most atmospheric hot spring experience you’ll ever have, with half-submerged columns and chunks of fallen marble scattered in the water all around you.
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