Pamukkale is the most visited place in Turkey and it is understandable, the view of the mountains that make you doubt whether it is snow or cotton, the ancient Roman and Greek ruins… it has all the elements a curious visitor likes.
A first easy night, resting at a wonderful hotel in a small and indecipherable village. This village doesn’t seem ready for the amount of visitors they have. Beside the hotels and the travel agencies it looks more like a forgotten and lifeless town.
No need to rise early we went to the South Gate in the protected area of Pamukkale. And this is how your tour around Hierapolis ruins begins, the city suffered multiple earthquakes until 1334 when it was decided to abandon it. The city was once a curative centre founded around 190 BC, but more important it was home of Greeks, Romans, Jews, pagans and Christians living together in peace.
Although today it is all ruins there are a few things in a pretty good condition such as the Theatre and the Byzantine Gate.
You can also visit the museum and the antique pool or Cleopatra’s pool, although these pools are not included in the entrance ticket.
And after wander around Hierapolis and enjoy a well deserved rest there was only one thing left to do: walk barefoot around the travertines. No, it is not snow and it is not cotton even if it looks like it. When you step on it, it feels like plaster.
Taking a walk, play with the thermal waters (whether you get your feet or your head wet) and furthermore, waiting for the sun to go down behind the mountains and watch the changing colours in the water and the white rock is all you have to do.
New day and new things to do. We organised a route of places to visit before heading to the airport and back home: Red Springs (it didn’t seem worth it although they might tell you “It is like Pamukkale but red”, no it is not), Laodicea, Afrodisias and Kaklik caves.
Laodicea was a trading city which traded mostly wool and medicines. Unfortunately, it is not as well conserved as Hierapolis but you can still enjoy Syrian street, the stadium, the theatre or the agora.
Afrodisias is magnificent. Its history starts in 5000 BC. Here the Aphrodite Temple or the Bishop’s Palace are very good, some other areas are more destroyed like the theatre (Hierapolis’ is much better conserved), but the best of all are the Tetrapylon and the stadium that could hold up to 30000 people. We didn’t have time to visit the museum but it has a huge amount of statues from all different ages.
Lastly on our way to the airport, you’ll find Kaklik caves, these are like Pamukkale but underground. The smell is quite intense as you go down, it is because of the sulphur but the shades of colours on the rocks make it worth it.
We went in February and were very lucky with the weather (blue skies and great temperature), if the weather is not nice it might not be as pleasing walking barefoot through the travertines. However, and as we mentioned before, it is the most visited place in Turkey, so summer might be too crowded to feel the magic. Whatever you decide, there are many reasons why Pamukkale is so visited.