Pamukkale means “cotton castle” in Turkish. The city is located in the inner Aegean in the Menderes Valley. Tectonic movements in the Menderes Basin triggered the rise of several hot springs. The water from these springs contains high mineral content, with chalk, limestone and travertine flowing down the mountain creating the complexion of the mountains. similar to a frozen waterfall. The water contains a large amount of bicarbonate and calcium, which leads to the precipitation of calcium bicarbonate. The combination of all the above attributes makes the landscape surreal and Pamukkale is on the World Heritage List. Long before this listing, the Romans recognized this appeal and built a spa town, Hierapolis. For more sightseeing information, visit our Pamukkale tour page.Lets start to read to Pamukkale Limestone Terraces Hierapolis Travel Tips For Sights Excursion Information.
The surreal gleaming white travertine terraces and warm, clear pools of Pamukkale hang like the petrified cascade of a mighty waterfall on the edge of a precipitous valley-side in picturesque southwestern Turkey. The geological phenomenon of Pamukkale, literally “cotton castle” in Turkish, is spectacular in its own right and is also home to the remarkably well-preserved ruins of the Greco-Roman city of Hierapolis. With such a unique combination of natural wonders and man-made wonders, it is no wonder that Pamukkale-Hierapolis has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With over two million visitors a year, it is also Turkey’s most visited attraction.
There are dramatic travertine terraces all over the world, from China to Iran, the USA to Afghanistan. Nowhere else in the world can visitors explore the picturesque travertine formations, formed over the millennia from limestone deposited by the numerous hot springs, as well as the colonnaded streets, temples, bathhouses, necropolis and theater of the remains of an idyllically situated Greek – Roman spa town, Hierapolis. You can even bathe like the Romans did in a picturesque pool of warm (around 36°C), mineral-rich water and swim among submerged columns of antiquity.
Pamukkale-Hierapolis lies on the western edge of the vast Anatolian Plateau, some 120 miles east of the popular Aegean resort of Kusadasi near Ephesus. Most visitors come on strenuous day trips from Aegean or Mediterranean resorts. The easiest way to visit on your own is to rent a car – the journey takes about three hours from Kusadasi, four from Antalya and Marmaris, five from Bodrum. Alternatively, comfortable intercity buses run from all of the above locations to Denizli, the closest town to Pamukkale, running at around the same time as driving. Frequent buses and minibuses run 40 minutes between Denizli bus station and Pamukkale. Turkish Airlines (turkishairlines.com) and Pegasus (flypgs. com) both fly from Istanbul to Cardak Airport of Denizli. Railway fans may be interested in the 4 times daily connection between Izmir and Denizli via Selcuk.
Here is the list of attractions in Pamukkale
The ancient Roman bath is one of the largest structures in Hierapolis, which has been the Archaeological Museum since 1984. Inside are exhibits from excavations of the area.
The ancient city of Hierapolis, the original site of Pamukkale, was known in archaeological literature as a sacred city because of the abundance of temples and other religious structures in the region. Although there is limited information on the founding of the city, what is known is that Eumenes II founded it and named it after Bergama’s mythical founder, Hiera, who was the wife of Telephos. It was an important center during the Roman and Byzantine periods and a center of Christianity since the 4th century.
The 1 km long main street with colonnades divides the city into two sections from end to end. At both ends are monumental doors outside the Byzantine city walls, as large parts of the doors were built during the Roman period. On the southern Byzantine door from 5 BC. There is an epitaph dedicated to Emperor Dominatian. The North Byzantine door from the same period is located at the crossroads between the street and the city walls.
The city was in the 5th century BC. Surrounded by walls to the north, east and south. 24 square towers were added, most of which have since collapsed. Of the four entrances, two are the monumental doors and others are small.
Today it is part of the Pamukkale Museum and south of the thermal baths. The layout of the Roman baths is typical of that period: at the entrance there is a wide courtyard, through which there is a rectangular area with large halls on both sides. There is evidence that the huge walls of the interior were covered with marble. To the north and south of the main complex are two main halls, used essentially for the emperor’s private use and for ceremonies. The remains of the baths date back to the 2nd century BC. The area is now covered in marble and a large part is part of the Pamukkale Museum.
Near the museum are the foundations of the temple built on the plutonium spring and dedicated to Pluto, the god of the underworld. It still emits deadly toxic gases and in front of the temple a grate has been installed over the underground entrance of the spring to discourage curious visitors. It was the site of an ancient religious cave where Apollo met the mother goddess of Cybele, and sources suggest that she descended into the cave unaffected by the noxious fumes. The upper parts of the temple date from the 3rd century and are accessible via a wide staircase.
The restored Roman theater dates from the 2nd century and the stage buildings and ornate reliefs are in exceptional condition. Construction began in AD 62 by Flavius two years after a major earthquake and was completed in AD 206. It once had a capacity of around 12,000 and was decorated with columns and statues discovered during excavations. There are marble bas-reliefs on the walls behind the scenes. The theater continues to host the annual International Pamukkale Song Festival in June, which seats 7000 spectators.
There is a cathedral, a columned church and two other churches in the city center from the 6th and 7th centuries with smaller chapels at the north end of town.
The necropolis at the north end of the ancient center is the largest in Asia Minor and runs almost 2 km on either side of the road. Limestone and marble were both used in the construction of the tombs, although marble was more common for the tombs. The northern necropolis has features of tombs, tombs and monuments dating back to early Christianity. The tombs, which have architectural features of houses, are considered the most valuable parts of the necropolis.
The site of ancient Laodiceia or Laodikya was founded 13 km south of Pamukkale on the southern back of the Curuksu River. According to ancient sources, the city was founded in 261-263 BC. Founded by Antiochus and named after his wife.
This was one of the most important and famous cities of Anatolia in the first century BC, and most of the works of art here belong to that period.
The Romans placed great importance on Laodikya and declared it the center of Cybria. The entire area includes the largest stadium in Asia Minor, a gymnasium and bath complex, and the foundations of an Ionian temple. One of the seven well-known churches of Asia Minor is located in the region, which indicates the high esteem in which Christianity is held. A devastating earthquake destroyed the city in AD 60.
Structures of Laodicea
The Grand Theater was built in the typical Roman architectural style and is located in the northern part of Laodikya. Although the stage was completely destroyed, the orchestra and audience areas are in good condition and have a capacity of around 20,000.
Located 300m northwest of the Grand Theater this had a seating capacity of 15,000 and was built in the Roman style. The stage has completely collapsed and the interior has minor damage elsewhere.
Located on the main street, the monumental fountain is a Roman structure with two pools and carved shelves on the walls, restored during the Byzantine period.
The Temple of Zeus is located between the small theater and the monumental fountain on the east side of the colonnaded street.
It was built to the south of the adjacent columned street. Only some parts on which the temple was located are still built. The main entrance is in the western part.
The water of this spring, which is part of the Pamukkale system, is located 5 km south of Pamukkale and is considered good for heart, high blood pressure, rheumatism, sciatica, lumbago and skin diseases.
Pamukkale thermal and mineral springs
The lime solution in the water, which comes from the travertine pools 18 km from Pamukkale, has therapeutic properties that have been recognized for centuries. Religious ceremonies and festivals were held around the Spring Fountain, and it was a popular destination for wealthy and powerful people who came to be cured of their ailments.
Not only can you enjoy the hot water springs of Pamukkale, you can also enjoy a bird’s eye view of the travertines and ruins of Hierapolis while paragliding!
If you need an excuse to get closer to nature, fly tandem paragliding with Pamukkale. You are great and safe!
Please click here to check prices and availability of this excursion in Pamukkale.
If you find a list of the top things to do in Turkey, Pamukkale will definitely be in it. However, this list rarely includes Hierapolis, the ancient city that has always been home to the travertines of Pamukkale. And trust us, a visit to Hierapolis is well worth your time. So don’t visit Pamukkale without also devoting enough time to Hierapolis! Honestly, this site is underrated!
At Pamukkale and Hierapolis you get two for the price of one as both are included in the ticket price. A bit like visiting Patara where you will enjoy the long and sheltered sandy beach together with the beautiful ancient site in the dunes beyond. Except that the number of travelers who visit Pamukkale far exceeds the number of those who come to Patara or any other ancient site in Turkey.
Hierapolis was the most visited ancient site in Turkey in 2019. A whopping 2,557,868 people bought a ticket. Ironically, most of these visitors hardly look beyond the Hierapolis Theater to find the perfect selfie on Pamukkale’s white travertines. And that’s a shame when you know how beautiful Hierapolis is.