Soaking in these crystal blue pools with clear skies and amazing views over the green valley, gave me a real holiday feeling. I started climbing the travertines in the late afternoon, as by then the temperatures were bearable. It was the perfect time to catch a magical sunset on the hilltop.
As dusk fell, the Imams started singing. Their call for prayer echoed through the valley. There was a subtle wind and the atmosphere became serene as the crowds had disappeared. This was scenery porn.
Being a sucker for viewpoints, I’ll remember this evening for a long time.
Soft, wet and blubbery versus hard, dry and spiky
Cotton Castle, that’s what the name ‘Pamukkale’ refers to in Turkish.
If you looked closer, you could see all sorts of extremely beautiful patterns, designed by the soft flow of warm, thick mineral rich water. The surface was hard, slippery and gooey at the same time, a really weird sensation between your toes. Shoes aren’t allowed to protect the delicate calcium formations.
People have been bathing here for centuries
The ancient city of Hierapolis is based on top of the hill. The hot springs are believed to have healing powers because of the carbonate minerals.
Today the real, natural pools are protected and artificial pools have been constructed to give people the chance to bathe without ruining these wondrous structures. It used to be different though. A couple of years ago visitors could crawl all over the site, without any restrictions.
On my way down I noticed people sitting in a narrow crack that ran all the way from the top to the bottom of the hill. They were chatting as they enjoyed the steady stream of hot water flowing over their bodies. Geniuses!
Tourist trap? Who cares, it’s stunning
The town itself isn’t really nice. It accommodates hordes of tourists, but nothing more. Although Pamukkale has ‘tourist trap’ written all over it, it’s a must-see. The site is so big that I didn’t bother me at all that there were many people around. The busses of tourists tend to come during the day when it’s too hot anyways.
Do It Yourself
Entrance fee: 20 TL (about 13 USD or 10 euro)
Opening hours: 08:30 till 19:30, but we stayed a lot longer.