The ‘Cotton Castle’ of Pammukale & Hierapolis, Turkey

Pammukale, a natural wonder of the earth, formed from limestone deposited by hot springs, creating white calcite terraces overflowing with warm mineral rich water. Have I sold its beauty yet!? The UNESCO heritage site looks like giant clouds as you gaze upwards from the village below and the name Pammukale literally translates to ‘Cotton Castle’.

We made our way from Antalya bus station, with a simple 4 hour journey to Denizli, the nearest large city. This was our home for 2 nights, a cheaper option with a larger range of accommodation and very good connections to Pammukale itself. Mini buses depart around every 15 minutes all day long. You are dropped off at the bottom of the ‘Cotton Castle’ which at first glance feels like you have been left at the aftermath of a giant avalanche. The park and lake with swan boats at the bottom helped disprove this to me, which was a nice place to just admire the view for a while; from here you can view the hoards of people making there way up to the top for the incredible views and the perfect insta pics!

As you climb to the top, you need to take off your socks and shoes as you venture through the sparkling clear pools and waterfalls. Appearing cold and looking like a snow covered hill, my mind was slightly confused for the first few steps as I experienced the feeling of the warm crystal waters flowing through my toes on a warm rocky surface. The sun was shining and the pure white rocks surrounding bounce the light back at you making it difficult to see so make sure you bring your sunglasses!

Reaching the top, you have amazing views over the village of Pammukale and are able to look down on the pools with a blue tint to them. Its hard to believe these basins haven’t been created or manmade in someway as they are so well structured and appealing to the eye. On the other side is a whole new land to discover, the ancient city of Hierapolis. This vast area needs a buggy or a lot of walking to explore which contains ruins of baths and temples, a museum, an ancient amphitheatre and Cleopatra’s pools. Yes Cleopatra is thought to have swam in these pool now filled with underwater artefacts. The pool was once enclosed in a Roman temple where doric columns held up an ornate roof though this collapsed in a earthquake and now you can swim amongst them.

The theatre is a steep uphill walk away but totally worth it as it has held up to the test of time very well. In its heyday it could have held up to 10,000 spectators, the surroundings really take you back in time and lets you imagine a bustling old city that you are now a tourist upon. The museum holds the rest of the artefacts from the ancient city, which is an extra 10 lira.

We took the trip back down the trickling waterfalls and through the pools to the village, stopped for some food and searched every shop for a postcard (which we eventually found after one shopkeeper dusted off her top shelf!, Are postcards going out of fashion!? they seem to becoming harder and harder to find!). Sunshine, clear mineral waters, an ancient city, a cotton castle and great views, Such a unique place to visit to see a natural wonder you won’t find anywhere else on this earth!

More from my Turkish Travels:

Istanbul – Days 1-3

Cappadocia – Turkey’s Grand Canyon

Antalya – History, Fantasy & Paradise


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