Pamukkale, meaning “cotton castle” in Turkish, is a natural site in Denizli in southwestern Turkey. The area is famous for a carbonate mineral left by the flowing water. The shimmering, snow-white limestone, have been 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 and has been a major industry in the area for thousands of years, due to the attraction of the thermal pools. 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. The terraces are all currently off-limits, having suffered erosion and water pollution at the feet of tourists.
The ancient Greco-Roman city of Hierapolis was built on top of the white “castle” which is in total about 2,700 meters long, 600 m wide.
Driving from Antalya to Pamukkale
This video is shows driving to Pamukkale, and a few stops underway for coffee breaks and lunch. There are also a few scenes when driving into Denizli with Pamukkale in the distance.
Pamukkale terraces and Hierapolis
We arrived at Pamukkale and walked to the terraces where we were allowed to walk bare-feet down into the only open terrace at that time. There is not enough water now to feed all the terraces, so they lead the water into a few at a time, and keep one open for tourists.
After visiting the terraces we walked the length of the ruined city of Hierapolis, all the way to the necropolis.
On the way back to the bus we stopped at a restaurant building with Cleopatra’s Bath, one of the artificial pools where tourists could pay to have a swim.
Thermal Bath in a Pamukkale Hotel
We were lucky to be staying in a nice spa hotel with its own hot-water spring not far from the terraces. We could use the spa facilities free of charge, and there was even bathrobes in our room.
The water in the pool was nice and warm, but looked dirty and was stinking sulfur. The hot water came out on top of the pool area and flowed down to the pool, creating interesting patterns as it deposited lime particles.
The small pool on top was really warm, and we found black clay on the bottom. We could not resist to play with this…
1 minute Balloon Flight, Pamukkale
We booked a balloon flight, but the weather forecast was not good. We were picked up at the hotel before dawn and driven to the balloon site. They were filling the balloons with hot air, and when they were ready we climbed into the basket.
There were dark clouds and a little wind, and we had lift-off. Hardly half a meter above ground there was a heavy wind gust that turned our balloon over on the side and dragged us some meters. Laying on our sides in the basket we managed hold on until we stopped.
Flight time: about 1 minute!
Carpet Making – the Process
We stopped at a ‘carpet factory’ were we shown the process of making carpets from silk cocoons to finished carpets. They displayed carpets from various regions, and we were of course ‘allowed to buy’ (- but no video-filming!).
Driving back to Antalya – Heavy Rain
After crossing the mountains we were surprised by heavy rains when we drove into Antalya. Water were running like small rivers in the streets, and we could hardly see anything out of the bus windows.
Luckily it stopped raining before we reached our hotel. We even got a little sunshine.