Hierapolis and Pamukkale attractions

Pamukkale, Turkey: 4 main sights

Pamukkale (Turkey) is a unique natural site located in the south-western part of the country 16 km from the city of Denizli. The uniqueness of the place lies in its geothermal springs formed among the travertine deposits. In Turkish Pamukkale means ‘Cotton Castle’ and the name perfectly reflects the appearance of the site. The object, which has no analogues in the world, is under the protection of UNESCO and annually attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists vacationing in the resorts of Turkey.

Pamukkale, Turkey

To appreciate the beauty of the site, just look at photos of Pamukkale. The object existed already in ancient times: it is known that in the 2nd century BC King Eumenes II of Pergamon erected the city of Hierapolis near the area. But how did the natural complex itself form?

For thousands of years, thermal waters with temperatures ranging from 30 to 100 ° C washed the surface of the plateau. Over time, miniature mineral pools began to form here, framed by travertine and cascading down the slope in a fanciful cascade. Due to the high concentration of calcium bicarbonate in the water over the centuries, the mountain surface was covered with snow-white sediments.

Huge flows of foreigners.

Today the area where Pamukkale is located has 17 full-fledged mineral springs rich in useful chemical elements. A huge flow of foreigners wanting to see the unique attraction and swim in its thermal pools, gave impetus to the development of tourism infrastructure. In Pamukkale appeared hotels and restaurants, stores and souvenir shops, which allowed tourists to stay here for long periods. One day to rest in the Cotton Castle is clearly not enough: in fact, in addition to the natural complex near the site there are several curious historical monuments, which would be a great omission not to get acquainted with.

Attractions in the vicinity

Photos of Pamukkale in Turkey have managed to fascinate millions of travelers and continue to attract more and more inquisitive travelers to the site each year. The intricate natural complex combined with ancient buildings becomes a real tourist treasure. What historical monuments can be seen near the thermal resort?

Among the attractions of Pamukkale in Turkey, first of all stands out an ancient amphitheater, which is one of the largest in the country. Over the centuries, the structure has been seriously damaged, mostly due to powerful earthquakes. The theater was restored several times, but the structure was repeatedly exposed to the elements. In the 11th century, the structure survived its final decline and began to be used for domestic needs. The last reconstruction of the amphitheater took more than 50 years and ended only in 2013.

The Ancient Amphitheatre

Hierapolis, located near the thermal springs, was very popular with the Romans, who could not imagine their leisure time without spectacular performances. The amphitheatre with a seating capacity of up to 15,000 people served for a long time as a stage for gladiatorial fights. Until now the building is in good condition, which was facilitated by the long restoration work. The acoustics inside are excellent even today. There are also spectator seats opposite the stage that were meant for the high-ranking visitors.

Pamukkale attractions are also represented by the ruins of ancient temples of Hierapolis. At the beginning of the 3rd century a temple dedicated to Apollo, the ancient Greek god of light and art, was built on the territory of the ancient city. The shrine became the largest religious structure in Hierapolis, but over the centuries, like the amphitheatre, it was destroyed by numerous earthquakes.

Temples of Hierapolis

In the 4th century another temple appeared in the city, built in honor of the Apostle Philip. About 2 millennia ago, the Romans executed the saint at Hierapolis, and until recently, no researcher could find his tomb. In 2016, Italian archaeologists, who have been excavating within the cloister for more than 30 years, still managed to find the chapel-tomb of the apostle, which caused a real furore in research circles and made the temple of Philip a truly sacred place.

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The walled well - the Sanctuary of Pluto

The temple of Pluto, the ruins of which can be found in the ancient city, also arouses interest. The myths of ancient Greece repeatedly describe a kingdom of the dead with a mysterious entrance, located somewhere under the ground. In 2013, Italian researchers have found in Pamukkale so-called Pluto’s Gate. Among the ruins under the tribunes of the temple they managed to find a deep well, at the bottom of which they found the carcasses of dead birds and a statue of Cerberus (the symbol of Pluto). The high concentration of carbon dioxide in the walls of the well, capable of killing an animal within minutes, left no doubt among the ancient inhabitants that it was in Hierapolis where the gates to the netherworld are located.

The building was erected at the beginning of the 5th century in memory of all the martyrs who gave their lives for the sake of faith. The shrine was built on the very spot where St. Philip was crucified by the Romans in 87. The shrine is of great importance in the Christian world and every year pilgrims from different countries come to its ruins to honor the memory of the apostle. The ruins of the martiry are situated on a hill and can be reached by following ancient steps. The structure itself was seriously damaged in earthquakes, and only fragments of walls and columns have survived. There are Christian symbols on the separate stones.

St. Philip's Martyrion

Cleopatra Basin has long been an integral part of Pamukkale. Built over a thermal spring from which the healing water comes, the basin was half destroyed in an earthquake in the 7th century. Parts of the columns and walls that fell into the water were not removed: they are clearly visible in the photo of Cleopatra’s Pool in Pamukkale in Turkey. There is a legend that Cleopatra herself liked to visit the spring, but reliable facts confirming the visits of the Egyptian queen have not been found.

Cleopatra Pool

During the year, the temperature of the bubbling thermal waters stays at 37°C. The deepest point of the pool reaches 3 m. Visiting the spring has a healing effect on the whole body and promises to heal skin, neurological, joint diseases, as well as heart, gastrointestinal and other ailments. In general, mineral waters are able to rejuvenate and tone the entire body. However, to achieve the proper effect Cleopatra swimming pool in Pamukkale in Turkey should be visited several times in a row.

Pamukkale in winter: is it worth visiting

Pamukkale Weather

Many tourists wonder if it is worth going to Pamukkale in winter. The answer to this question is not unambiguous, because such a trip has both advantages and disadvantages. The cons primarily refers to the weather: in the winter months the average air temperature during the day in Pamukkale ranges from 10 to 15 °C. But the temperature of thermal springs remains the same as in summer (about 37 ° C). In the water itself is warm and comfortable, but when you get out of it, you can freeze very quickly. If this temperature difference is not a problem, then you can safely go to the thermal resort, and in low season, because otherwise the trip will leave only positive impressions.

Hierapolis in Pamukkale

Can you swim in Pamukkale in winter, we have already found out. Now it remains to understand what to do after the thermal procedures. As we pointed out above, in the vicinity of the natural complex of Turkey is a lot of interesting sights, which is especially convenient to visit it in the winter. First, during this period there are fewer tourists in Pamukkale. Secondly, the absence of scorching rays of sun and heat allow you to slowly and comfortably explore all the ancient monuments. In addition, local hotels in winter make good discounts, so you can also save money.

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Where to stay

Room at Koray Hotel

Koray Hotel

The area of Pamukkale in Turkey offers a rich choice of hotels, both budget and luxury. If the main purpose of your trip is to visit the natural site itself and its surrounding attractions, it is wise to stay in a small village located right at the foot of the snow-white slopes. Local accommodations start at 60 TL per night per room for two. A superior option with a swimming pool and complimentary breakfast costs an average of 150 TL for a double room.

Sahin Hotel


If you are looking for a comfortable holiday in Pamukkale with its own thermal pools, then you are better off looking for accommodation in the resort village of Karahayit, located 7 km north of the Cotton Castle. The price of accommodation for two in such hotels is 350-450 TL per night. The amount includes access to the on-site thermal pools and free breakfasts (some hotels include dinners as well). You can take a cab or public transportation from Karahayit to Pamukkale and the ancient sites.

How to get there

Pamukkale Bus

To understand how to get to Pamukkale, it is important to mark the starting point. Most tourists come to the attraction as part of a tour from the resorts of the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas. The distance from Pamukkale to the most popular tourist cities is about the same:

  • Antalya – 240 km,
  • Kemer – 275 km,
  • Marmaris – 210 km.

It takes about 3-3.5 hours to reach the site.

If you are planning an independent trip to the springs, you can use the intercity bus company “Pamukkale”. There are daily flights from almost all cities in southwestern Turkey. Detailed schedules and ticket prices can be found on the company’s official website www.pamukkale.com.tr.

Pegasus Airlines

If you intend to go to Pamukkale from Istanbul (a distance of 570 km), it is easier to use the airways. The nearest airport to the natural site is in the city of Denizli. Several flights of Turkish Airlines and Pegasus Airlines take off daily from Istanbul’s air harbor for a given destination.

  • Travel time ranges from 1 hour to 1 hour and 20 minutes.
  • Ticket prices range from 100-170 TL.


Pamukkale is considered one of the most popular excursion routes, so it is not difficult to buy a tour to the natural site. You can buy tours either from the guides in the hotels, or in street travel agencies outside the hotels. As a rule, the tour in Pamukkale in Turkey comes in two varieties – one-day and two-day. The first option suits tourists who arrived on vacation for a short time and want to get acquainted with the attraction in a hurry. The second type of tour will appeal to those travelers who want to visit everywhere and for a long time.

Pamukkale Pools

If you are wondering what resort is closest to Pamukkale in Turkey, then explain that it is Marmaris. Although Antalya is not much farther from the site. Tourists traveling from Kemer and Alanya will take the longest trip.

Pamukkale Excursion

The price for a trip to Pamukkale in different resorts varies about the same range. First of all, the cost depends on the duration of the tour and the seller itself. All tourists should know that the tour guides are always more expensive than the local Turkish agencies.

  • On average, a one-day trip will cost 250 – 400 TL, two-day – 400 – 600 TL.
  • Entrance to Cleopatra Pool is always charged separately (50 TL).
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Regardless of which tourist town you depart for Pamukkale, the departure for the tour will be early in the morning (around 05:00). As a rule, a one-day tour includes a ride in a comfortable bus, a Russian-speaking guide, breakfast and lunch/dinner. The cost of the two-day tour additionally includes an overnight stay in a local hotel.

Entrance to Cotton Castle

Pamukkale tour in Turkey begins with a tour of the ancient ruins of Hierapolis. Next, tourists go to the Cotton Castle itself, where they take off their shoes and walk around the shallow thermal springs and take pictures. Afterwards, the guide takes everyone to Cleopatra’s pool. If the tour is a one-day tour, the event is quite dynamic, but if the trip is two days, then no one rushes anyone. Absolutely all tours are accompanied by multiple stops at stores and factories both on the way to the attraction and on the way back.

Cleopatra Pool in Pamukkale

Useful tips

Bottled Water

  1. Going to Pamukkale in Turkey, be sure to take sunglasses. The white calcium deposits in Cotton Castle sharply reflect light in sunny weather, which irritates the mucous membrane of the eyes.
  2. If you plan to swim in the Cleopatra Pool, you should take care of the necessary bathing gear (towel, bathing suit, flip-flops) beforehand. On the territory of the complex, of course, there are stores, but their prices are exorbitant.
  3. We have already found out the closest place to Pamukkale in Turkey. But no matter where you leave from, you will have a long drive, so be sure to stock up on bottled water.
  4. If you decide to go to Pamukkale on a tour, then be prepared for frequent stops at local factories and stores. Buying goods in such places is strictly not recommended, because the price tag in them overstated several times. There have been numerous cases of tourists being cheated at the winery, when at the tasting you are given a taste of high-quality delicious wine, but in the bottle they are sold completely different in content the drink, passing off as the original.
  5. Do not be afraid to buy a tour in Pamukkale (Turkey) in street agencies. Claims that on such trips will not work your insurance is a myth and a legend of the guides, seeking by all means not to miss potential customers.

Author: Catherine Unal

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Pamukkale and the ancient city of Hierapolis

Pamukkale – the cotton fortress of Turkey

Pamukkale is one of the most famous natural and cultural sites in Turkey, 20 km away from the city Denizli. Literally translated from Turkish, the word “Pamukkale” means “cotton castle” or “cotton fortress”, which does, in fact, correspond to the local unusual natural landscape.

Pamukkale - Turkey

Pamukkale – White Terraces

The so called white travertine terraces of Cotton Castle are the result of calcium carbonate precipitations in the mountain slope. There are 17 geothermal springs in the region of Pamukkale and Denizli with water temperatures ranging from 35 to 100 degrees Celsius. The water from each spring has a different composition, so the thermal springs in the vicinity of Pamukkale were used for medicinal purposes in ancient times. Many hotels in Pamukkalei today have their own water and mud springs. You can take mineral baths throughout the year. In 1988 Pamukkale and the ruins of the ancient city of Hierapolis were inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

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The travertines of Pamukkale

How to get to Pamukkale?

Pamukkale is easy to get to. If you decide to go there, you just need to decide whether you want to go on your own or it’s better to sign up for a tour? Excursions to Pamukkale are organized from all resorts of the Mediterranean and Aegean coast of Turkey. Approximate cost of a one-day tour is from $35 to $80, and the two-day tour from $60 to $160. The price depends primarily on the resort from which the tour begins and the quality of services provided. If you decide to go to Pamukkale on your own you will have to drive to Denizli city from the start point of your tour. There are buses to Denizli from almost all towns along the coast and from the rest of the major cities in Turkey, and from Istanbul you can easily get to the city by plane. It takes about 20 minutes by regular bus from Denizli bus station to Pamukkale village. Turkish Airlines from the European airport and Pegasus Airlines from the Asian airport in Istanbul fly to Denizli Csardak Airport.

View of Pamukkale from a hill overlooking the ruins of the ancient city of Hieropolis

View of Pamukkale from a hill, where the ruins of the ancient city of Hieropolis are located

Distances from different resorts and cities of Turkey to Pamukkale

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