Travel Guide | Turkey

10 things you need to know about Pamukkale, Turkey before you visit.

Pamukkale (Cotton Palace) an unreal landscape and UNESCO world heritage site.

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1. Pamukkale means “cotton castle” in Turkish and it’s not hard to see why. These white travertine natural pools have been slowly formed over thousands of years and resemble fluffy clouds of cotton, one of the main exports from this area.

2. Parmukkale is a natural World Heritage site in the Denizli Province of southwestern Turkey. The closest airport is Denizli Cardak Airport which is approximately 44 miles from Pamekkale. No matter where you are in the region there are bus tours available to take you directly to Pamukkale.

3. How were the pools formed? There are 17 hot water springs feeding this mountainside. The water is supersaturated with calcium carbonate and as it is exposed to the air, carbon dioxide is released and the calcium carbonate is deposited on the mountain forming these amazing terraced pools.

4. Walk from the top to the bottom if you’re only planning to walk one way. This may depend on your tour or simply a matter of logistics. If you park your hire car at the bottom you need to walk all the way up to enjoy this wonder but of course will need to then return to the car. We were fortunate enough to be dropped at the top by our guide and then picked up at the bottom of the mountain. As you walk down the mountain the beauty of the terraced pools is revealed before you.

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5. The natural pools are not always full of water. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site and just like at Niagara Falls the water flow is controlled to preserve the site, in this case the beautiful white travertine pools that make up this amazing mountainside. While there was no water in the natural pools during our visit, the manmade pools are always full for those interested in taking a dip. The natural pools are allowed to fill with the hot spring water more frequently in the high tourist season.


6. Bring a bathing suit but you don’t have to swim in the pools to walk down the mountain with the deliciously warm water flowing around your feet. Bring flip-flops because carrying your heavy sneakers down can be annoying.


7. It’s ok to take your camera and phone with you. While there is water rushing everywhere as you walk down the face of this natural wonder, the texture of the travertine is strangely rough and smooth at the same time. The patterns formed by the deposits of calcium carbonate provide enough grip for your feet without being too rough.


8. Take your time. While the white travertine is rough enough to provide grip on your bare feet some parts can be a little slippery. In our experience, some of the browner areas of stone were a little more slippery than the whiter areas. Of course, don’t just take your time to ensure you stay on your feet; the view is mesmerizing and the photo opportunities abound. Soak it all in.

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9. The Legend: The waters of Pamukkale are thought to have beautifying properties due to the legend of a poor and ugly local girl who threw herself off the cliffs in desperation of never finding true love. However, she did not die but remained unconscious, soaking in the pools of Pamukkale until she was found by a Denizli Lord who thought she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. They fell in love at once and were married, living happily ever after.

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10.  The Ruins: The local Denizli people have been using these pools for centuries.  The ruin of the ancient city of Hierapolis is still visible at the top of the white ‘Cotton Castle’. You can explore these ruins before you head down to the pools.

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