Recently we visited Pamukkale with my daughter as it was one of the places on her wish list. Indeed, many people who have seen pictures of this place (meaning Cotton Fortress in Turkish), want to see it with their own eyes and soak themselves in the white thermal water basins. After about three hours drive from Izmir Airport where we picked up my daughter, we arrived at Pamukkale soon after sunrise. The first visitors were already there, but the place was calm, and we were greeted by birds singing in this fresh spring morning.
Pamukkale travertine terraces are white because of the thermal calcite-laden mineral waters cascading down the hill. The water coming from springs is always very warm, and people have enjoyed bathing in it for centuries. We, too, enjoyed paddling in the ankle deep warm pools and spring streams. Although visitors are usually dazzled by bright white terraces and naturally tend to gravitate to them, there is more to this place.
On top of the hill, just behind the water baths there are ruins of once magnificent city of Hierapolis, founded by Pergamon kings at the 2nd century BC. Its best days were at the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD, the era of Roman Empire. We saw the ancient remains of man-made water-channels and pools which were used for therapeutic purposes already at that time. Hierapolis was also an important religious centre. We admired the beautiful masonry and artwork of the Apollo temple, theatre, and sizable acropolis – an ancient graveyard with colossal tombs where nowadays lizzards enjoy basking in the sunshine.
If you decide to visit Pamukkale, I definitely recommend you to take a few steps further from the baths and walk among the ruins of the magnificent city of Hierapolis, surrounded by shady cypress trees and colourful poppy fields.