Pamukkale (Hierapolis), Turkey

Pamukkale, 18 km (11 miles) north of Denizli (map), isTurkey’s foremost mineral-bath spa because of its natural beauty: hot calcium-laden waters spring from the earth and cascade over a cliff. As they cool they form dramatic travertines of hard, brilliantly white calcium that form pools.

Named the Cotton Fortress (pah-MOOK-kah-leh) in Turkish, it 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. You can swim in it for a fee.

Your Visit

You can reach Pamukkale by car, bus, train or airplane. It makes a great overnight stop as you travel between İzmirSelçukEphesusKuşadası or Marmaris and Antalya or Konyaand CappadociaMore…

It’s possible to visit Pamukkale on a day-trip excursion by trainfrom Selçuk (Ephesus) or İzmir. Here’s how.

You can spend a pleasant day at Pamukkale, exploring the extensive Roman ruins of Hierapolis, climbing the ranks of seats in the great Roman theater, touring the exhibits in the Archeological Museum, splashing along the travertines (where permitted) and even soaking in the Antique Pool littered with fluted marble columns.

Coming from, or going to the Aegean coast, you may be able to combine a visit to Pamukkale and Laodicea with a visit to Aphrodisias, the ancient City of Aphrodite, goddess of love.

Orientation

Four locations are of importance to visitors at Pamukkale:

Laodicea

Located one km west of the road between Denizli and Pamukkale, you can make a short side-trip to visit this ancient city. More…

Pamukkale Town

Antique Pool, Pamukkale, Turkey
Visitors enjoy a dip in the Antique Pool of Hierapolis, marble columns and all.

At the foot of the travertines, the little town of Pamukkalehas numerous small hotels, pensions, restaurants, and such services as shops and bus ticket offices. Many pensions have their own small warm mineral water pools.

Karahayıt

Several kilometers to the north of the plateau, the village of Karahayıt is surrounded by big resort hotels busy with bus tour groups. More…

 

The Plateau

Travertine pools, Pamukkale, Turkey

The travertines form a plateau atop which is the Sacred Pool, the ruins of Hierapolis, and the Archeological Museum. These are what you want to see. There are three entrances to the plateau. You’ll pay a fee to enter at any one. More…

A Bit of History

In the 1990s the local authorities undertook a development campaign meant to improve the spa and increase tourism. Misconceived in some ways, the development, along with changes in Turkey’s entire tourism picture, resulted in fewer visitors.

Pamukkale also plays a prominent part in my novel, Istanbul Love Bus. More…

An Annoyance

As you enter Pamukkale Town in a car, local men on motor scooters will race after you, catch you, and gesture to you to stop your car. When you do, thinking there is perhaps something wrong with your vehicle, or a dangerous situation ahead, you will discover that they only want to sell you something.

They will ask if you need a hotel, restaurant, souvenir, carpet, etc. If you need any of these services, they will lead you to them and probably take a commission for their efforts. This may or may not affect the price you pay, I don’t know—but I suspect it doesn’t lower it. Although they are only trying to make a living, and in some cases to help visitors find things, I find them a nuisance as they will not let you go until they have made their pitch.

Click here for more maps of Denizli, Pamukkale & Aegean Turkey.

—by Tom Brosnahan


Best 7- to 10-Day Turkey Tours

What to See & Do

Pamukkale Hotels

Pamukkale Transport

Pamukkale to Cappadocia

Karahayıt

Denizli

Laodicea

Aphrodisias

Aegean Turkey

Istanbul Love Bus...the new novel by Tom Brosnahan

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