If I tell you that one of my favourite attractions in Turkey is a spa, you’d probably think I’m crazy. After all, why would anyone travel so far for something you can enjoy back home? But as I approached this alien-looking landscape located in Denizli Province in southwestern Turkey, one thing was clear. This place was nothing like I had imagined it to be.
A process that started over a million years ago, these white cotton-like terraces are mineral deposits from the hot springs at the top of Cal Mountain. Over time, some of these terraces have formed basins that retain water in pools. These turquoise waters have temperatures starting at 100 degree Celsius but fall to about 33 degree Celsius by the time they reach the lower basins. The water is said to have incredible healing properties, and is a great natural cure for high blood pressure, heart disease, digestive or skin disorders.
Exploring the Spa City
While this natural wonder will leave you enchanted, it is hard to miss the acres of Roman ruins that cover the hill side. At one time, the ancient city of Hierapolis stood here in all its glory. With a population of about 100,000 people, the city was a major centre for art and philosophy and continued to remain so under the Byzantine era until its destruction by the Persian army in the 7th Century AD. In fact, together Pamukkale and Hierapolis are recognised as UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1988.
Things to do in Pamukkale
Start by exploring the ruins, such as the large amphitheatre, the Byzantine Church and Temple of Apollo. Then, make your way to the sacred Antique Pool, which is abundant in hot calcium laden water for a relaxing swim. Cleopatra is said to have swum in this pool, though it could well be a rumour. A separate fee is to be paid to swim here, and towels are not provided. So, don’t forget to carry your own or buy one from the Cleopatra spa shop.
Afterwards, head to the biggest attraction of your excursion- the travertines. In order to protect the unique calcite surface, visitors are prohibited from wearing footwear, so be sure to carry a plastic bag to put your shoes in. Roll up your jeans or better still, wear your bathing suit and walk along the travertines. The beauty of the landscape is truly breathtaking. You can easily spend more than an hour here, depending on the number of photo stops you take and the time you spend bathing or just lounging in the thermal baths. Be careful while walking, since the ridges can be a bit slippery.