Pamukkale

Pamukkale

Things to do - general

Pamukkale, meaning “cotton castle” in Turkish, is a natural site in Denizli Province in southwestern Turkey. The city contains hot springs and travertines, terraces of carbonate minerals left by the flowing water. It is located in Turkey’s Inner Aegean region, in the River Menderes valley, which has a temperate climate for most of the year.

Travertine terrace formations at Pamukkale, Turkey. May 21, 2011

The ancient Greco-Roman city of Hierapolis was built on top of the white “castle” which is in total about 2,700 metres (8,860 ft) long, 600 m (1,970 ft) wide and 160 m (525 ft) high. It can be seen from the hills on the opposite side of the valley in the town of Denizli, 20 km away.

Whether as Pamukkale (Cotton Castle) or ancient Hierapolis (Holy City), this village has been drawing the weary to its thermal springs for more than 23 centuries. The Turkish name refers to the surface of the shimmering, snow-white limestone, 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. Legend has it that the formations are solidified cotton (the area’s principal crop) that giants left out to dry.

Overshadowed by natural wonder, Pamukkale’s well-preserved Roman ruins and museum have been remarkably underestimated and unadvertised; tourist brochures over the past 20 years have mainly featured photos of people bathing in the calcium pools. Aside from a small footpath running up the mountain face, the terraces are all currently off-limits, having suffered erosion and water pollution at the feet of tourists. While it is not open for bathing, the site is still worth a visit. Although many travelers come to Pamukkale only as a hasty day trip from Kuşadası or Selçuk.

Tourism is and has been a major industry. People have bathed in its pools for thousands of years. As recently as the mid-20th century, hotels were built over the ruins of Hierapolis, causing considerable damage. An approach road was built from the valley over the terraces, and motor bikes were allowed to go up and down the slopes. When the area was declared a World Heritage Site, the hotels were demolished and the road removed and replaced with artificial pools. Wearing shoes in the water is prohibited to protect the deposits.

Country Turkey
Visa requirements

Visa in not needed for TR citizens.

Languages spokenTurkish
Currency usedLira
Area (km2)1.620 km²

Culture and history info

Antiquity

There are traces of prehistoric cultures throughout the province, including evidence of pre-Hittite cultures and the Hittites themselves. The Hittites were followed by Phrygians, Lydians and Persians, and then cities founded by the ancient Greeks and Alexander the Great. The first real settlement was the city of Laodicea on the Lycus which was established by King Antiochus II for his wife Laodice. Laodicea is located 6 km north of the city of Denizli.

The city of Hierapolis was established around 190 BC by the Pergamene Kingdom, one of the Hellenistic states of Anatolia. The calcified terraces and pools of Pamukkale (Cotton Castle) now stand below the ruins of Hierapolis. The two cities, Laodicea and Hierapolis later came under Roman rule, and with the division of the Empire in 395 were left within the boundaries of the East Roman Empire.

The Christian Era

The province has strong biblical connections: in the Book of Revelation, John the Evangelist hears a loud voice which sounded like a trumpet when he was on the island of Patmos. The voice says: "Write down what you see and send the book to the Churches in these seven cities: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea". The Church of Laodicea was a sacred place even in pre-Christian times, and is still visited by Christians today, although it lost its importance to a great extent during Byzantine rule.

The Turkish Era

Turks were first seen in Denizli in 1070 when Afşın Bey, under the control of the Seljuk Sultan Alp Arslan, raided the area. The second and third Crusades fought here against Kazıkbeli, who managed to flee with a small force to Antalya. Later, after the Turks had established control of the ancient cities, they moved south to the site of the present city of Denizli, where drinking water was brought through stone pipes. The name Laodicea slowly changed into “Ladik” then since the 17th century other names were given “Tonguzlu”, ”Tonuzlu”, ”Tenguzlug”, ”Donuzlu” and finally “Denizli”.

After World War I, when the Greek army arrived in İzmir on May 15, 1919, one of the first centres of Turkish resistance formed at an open-air meeting in Denizli. A Turkish militia formed lines on the Menderes organized by Yörük Ali and Demirci Efe, involving large numbers of volunteers from the local peasantry. Stiffened by the Turkish regular army, Greek forces were repelled, and Denizli remained in Turkish hands throughout the Greco-Turkish War.

Daily Tour

Daily Tour

Sapanca - Kartepe, Pamukkale, Bursa - Uludağ, Istanbul, Cappadocia, Ephesus, Trabzon
We are renewing our tour programs and schedules at the moment. Soon we will be back with summer disc More info

Unfortunately there are no car rental offers at this location at the moment.