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Travertines in Pamukkale (and Hierapolis) are stunning!

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The Travertines in Pamukkale (and Hierapolis) are simply stunning!

The Wonder of Nature

We just visited the ‘Cotton Castle’ Travertines in Pamukkale and the Flying Munkey was so impressed he felt it warranted wearing his favourite Hello Kitty armbands…much to the delight of the locals 

When you picture Turkey, you’ll probably have a vision of beach resorts and the city of Istanbul. This is unsurprising, this is most people’s vision of Turkey, however what you might be surprised to see is the amazing landscape that blows your mind away from the common conception of this amazing land – Pamukkale – a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Travertines in Pamukkale

When you first see the huge, brilliant white plateau that is the main attraction in Pamukkale, you could be forgiven for thinking you’d landed at a ski resort somewhere a lot colder.

Travertines in Pamukkale

What you’re actually seeing is calcium deposits, but we’ll get onto what it actually is a little more later.

Travertines in Pamukkale
View of the ‘Cotton Castle’ from our hotel – Ozen Turku Pension

Pamukkale is one of Turkey’s premier tourist hot-spots, full of nature and history, which thrills visitors time and time again. Of course, heading here during the peak summer season will mean crowds and it will mean extreme heat, so to be honest, May, September, and October, are the best times to go.

What is Pamukkale?

Pamukkale is a region of hot thermal springs, located around 11 miles north of Denizli, dating back to Roman times. The nearby spa city of Hierapolis is also well worth a visit, and is located slap bang at the top of the travertines.  You arrive at the ancient city of Hierapolis after traversing up through the travertines from the village. Hierapolis is spectacular and a great place to watch the sunset.  (But we’ll cover more on Hierapolis in an upcoming article)

Travertines in Pamukkale

Please bear in mind, if you take one of the coach day trips, you will have to leave well before the sunset and so will miss this amazing experience.

Travertines in Pamukkale
The sunsets from the ancient city of Hierapolis, looking out over the travertines are spectacular

Pamukkale itself is UNESCO protected, telling you something about the magnificence of the area.

Travertines in Pamukkale

It’s hard to describe the wonder of Pamukkale without you actually having seen it for yourself, but understanding what it actually is does tend to help. Basically, Pamukkale translates as ‘cotton castle’, describing the brilliant white landscape. It is a thermal spring which cascades down off the cliff, forming steps which are anywhere between 1 metre to 6 metres high. The steps are made of calcium deposits, which have dried and formed hard, smooth rocks.

Travertines in Pamukkale

The calcite-laden springs form waterfalls, and leave behind semi-circular steps, with water that is a delicious 35 degrees in heat. This is of course what gives therapeutic and health-laden benefits.

Travertines in Pamukkale

One word of warning – it can be slippery, so do watch your step!  You do have to take your shoes off before setting foot on the travertines.

How can I get to Pamukkale? I want to see this place!

Travertines in Pamukkale
Who needs a beach? Not the Flying Munkey

The good news is that Pamukkale is very easy to get to, the bad news however is that if you’re visiting from one of the larger resorts on the south coast, such as Marmaris, you’re looking at quite a lengthy drive, around 4-5 hours, depending on the time of season and how busy it is.

A popular way to visit is by combining nearby Ephesus, an ancient Roman city of ruins, with Pamukkale, and you’ll find tour vendors offering overnight trips for a good price. Haggle down your cost if you can, because if you can see these two wonders at the same time then you’re in for a treat. The only downside of visiting on an organised tour, instead of heading there on your own steam from a nearby city such as Izmir, is as we said before, that you will most likely miss the quite spectacular sunsets.

Travertines in Pamukkale

Tours tend to leave before the sun goes down, especially during the summer months, and to see the orange glow cast across the landscape here is something to truly savour. Bear this in mind when you’re planning how to visit.

Travertines in Pamukkale

Pamukkale Town is at the very bottom of the plateau, so if you’re planning on staying overnight, then you’ll find hotels down here, although the price can be a little inflated, simply because you’re in the heart of tourist land. Having said that, perhaps it’s worth it to see the sunset.

Are the Travertines in Pamukkale worth the fuss?

Put simply, hell yes! A combination of nature and history is something special, but when you cast your eyes on this landscape, you’ll have a lot of trouble believing what you’re seeing. Pamukkale is special because you’re unlikely to see anything similar anywhere else in the world. The Roman history adds another dimension, and believe me, the photos you’ll have from your time here will be special indeed.

Travertines in Pamukkale
The Flying Munkey meets this big fella at the top, guarding the entrance to the Roman baths. The region of Denizli is renowned in Turkey for having a famous breed of cock – seriously.

Travertines in Pamukkale – by the Flying Munkey and Travelho

This concludes our Travertines in Pamukkale. We hope you find this information useful. If you are looking for a specific piece of information, please do comment below as we may have just forgotten to mention it.

Travertines in Pamukkale

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3 Comments
  1. travel Brooklyn
    September 16, 2015 at 8:59 pm

    This is amazing! Have to say this took me by surprise, I never in a million years would have thought this is in Turkey. Bet you guys had a lot of fun, especially with Flying Munkey’s sense of humor – my daughter has the exact same Hello Kitty armbands and she saw you so now she wants her father to wear them too :)) If we want to spend more than just a day here where do you recommend we stay?

    • travel travelho
      September 18, 2015 at 8:13 am

      Haha, yes I think the world will be a better place if we all wear Hello Kitty armbands, send us a pic of him wearing them 🙂 Andrew/the flying munkey is a very fun traveling companion 🙂

      If on a budget, we both highly recommend Ozen Turku Pension for a place to stay in Pamukkale. We stayed here for 6 nights. Very central. Don’t expect the Ritz, but it’s excellent value for money and includes air con, from memory at no extra charge (a lot of hotels charge extra for air con in Turkey. It’s not a lot extra by western standards, maybe $1 or 2 a day)

      Ozen Turku Pension is run by a lovely old guy who’s very charming and helpful, he lives in the front part of the pension with his family so there is always someone around if you need help with anything. (but we found it also very private) At one point I needed to make an emergency trip to a dentist and asked the owner if he could help, he told me his brother-in-law worked at a dentists in nearby Denizli so he organised an appointment for me. He even drove me to the dentist, waited for me, insisted I come say hello to his brother in law out the back making dentures and then drove me back to the pension for around $10. The dentist was great and charged about $30. I might start going to Turkey for all my dental needs now 🙂

      The view of the Travertines from the pension restaurant is amazing. Instagram

      A lot of the bedrooms might be a little small if traveling with young children, and there are a couple of flights of stairs. There is most likely more up market accommodation available in Pamukkale, but we never looked into it as we were happy where we were. As I say, excellent value for money.

      Here’s the link on booking.com

      And lonely planet

    • travel travelho
      September 21, 2015 at 12:29 pm

      ps. I just discovered there’s a similar travertine type place somewhere in China. Looking into it now! 🙂

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