One of the destinations on our Turkish bucket list was Pamukkale. The pictures from this unique landmark convinced us to drive there on a long weekend.
It is a really touristic destination, especially the white travertines and warm pools, but we found out that there was a lot more to see in the area. From the ancient city of Laodicea and the underground version of the travertines, this article will give you some tips to discover beautiful places in this region.
It was made by a spring that spurts out on the surface for a few meters and flow back underground through the cave in cascading layers of limestone and travertines. Because of its look, Kaklık cave appear very much like a subterranean Pamukkale.
There are also stalagmites, stalactites and there is so much sulfur that there was a strong smell during the visit.
It takes around 30 to 45 minutes to visit the cave formed over 2.5 million years ago. You can find more information about Kaklık cave here.
The ruins are well preserved and as of 2012 are being renovated. Its many buildings include a stadium, baths, temples, a gymnasium, theatres, and a bouleuterion (Senate House).
We enjoyed exploring that ancient city, there were almost no other visitors and some buildings like the church had a glass floor so we could see the magnificent mosaics.
Pamukkale means cotton castle. According to a legend, the formations are solidified cotton (the area’s principal crop) that giants left out to dry. The scientific explanation is that this natural site with snow-white limestone was shaped over millennia by calcium-rich springs. Dripping slowly down the vast mountainside, mineral-rich waters foam and collect in terraces, spilling over cascades of stalactites into milky pools below.
Tourism is a major industry in the area, and after the area was declared a World Heritage Site, artificial pools were build to preserve the natural ones. The artificial pools path is the area where you can walk along and reach the top of the mountain. Be aware that depending of the time of the year, some of the natural pools can be dry.
Let’s be honest, when you get to the top, it is crowded, Pamukkale suffers from overtourism, especially at the top of the mountain, where most buses drop groups of tourist traveling with agencies.
A good tip to explore the travertines at your own pace and get great pictures is to start from the bottom and go in the morning at opening.
Be also aware that you’ll have to take off your shoes and walk barefoot up the path, so a backpack will be useful to carry your shoes if you want to take pictures and have your hands free. Don’t leave your shoes at the bottom as there is a lot to see on top of the mountain as well.
Once you reach the top of the mountain you can explore Hierapolis (see details below) and relax in the Thermal Pools. Also called Cleopatra Pools.
In the period of the Roman Empire, thousands of people used to come to the baths, of which there are more than 15. Nowadays you can enjoy Cleopatra’s Pool where the water is around 42°C. It contains bicarbonate, sulphate and carbon dioxide.
Hierapolis was founded as a thermal spa early in the 2nd century BC within the sphere of the Seleucid Empire. There are a lot of significant structures that you can explore. You can spend a few hours walking around the gates, walking up to the Theatre, visit the Temple of Apollo, Ploutonion, Nymphaeum, and Necropolis.
There are also a few museums worth checking out, especially the one with Tombs and Statues.
Click here for more information about Hierapolis.
Located in Denizli, 30 minutes away from Pamukkale, this new cable car was built in 2015 and was a great stop on our way back home.
The cable car cost 8TL (as of May 2019) and last 7 minutes. There are 24 Cabins of 8 people, there is one entering the station every 30 seconds. It gets you near the top of the mountain at an altitude of about 1500m. You can enjoy a beautiful view of the city of Denizli, the forest and the valley.
On top, there is a coffee shop to relax while enjoying the view. There is also a minibus (dolmus) takes you to 1700m on a mountain village to eat a traditional in the middle of a beautiful forest.
We added a stop on our way back to Ankara. Phrygian Yazılıkaya or Midas Kenti (Midas Monument) is located at about 2h45 from Ankara and is a great place for hicking while exploring Phrygian rock-facades and shaft-monuments. We had a limited time so we visited Gerdekkaya Anıtı (The Gerdekkaya Tomb Monument) and the Areyastis Monument.
It was worth the stop and Yazılıkaya and I will definitely go back there for a weekend daytrip because there is a lot more to explore in that area.