Turkey’s Cotton Castle
Pamukkale, meaning “cotton castle” in Turkish, is one of the most unique Unesco World Heritage Sites I’ve seen. From a distance, it looked like ski slope. The city is full of hot springs and travertines, or terraces of carbonate materials left by flowing water that give the landscape its snowy appearance.
At the top of the hill we started on our tour among ruins then it opened up to the white part of the mountain with blue thermal pools naturally terracing the hillside. To walk on the travertine sediment everyone was required to take off their shoes. The terrain was rocky at first then it turned smooth with grooves from the ebb and flow of the water. It wasn’t slippery either, there was a fair amount of traction.
The circular terraced pools were about 20 feet in length, the water came up about mid-calf height, and the bottom was sandy. Alongside the terrace slope there was a 3 foot wide stream of running thermal water down the mountainside. Visitors have the option to continue to the bottom but we decided to stop midway and head to a cafe at the Antique Pool for lunch.
When my sis and I ordered our food, the guys behind the counter asked if we were sisters. Everyone who asked us this question while we were abroad was delighted and tickled when they found out we were sisters. That was new for me. The sister thing wasn’t quite as enthusiastically received when we traveled to France just a few months prior haha. We ate out on the patio and by and by we were surrounded by 7 cats! They were all over Turkey, but it was hilarious because they were at our feet staring at us, meowing, and even climbing on the table to get our food.
After lunch we climbed a steep gravel road to the enormous amphitheater overlooking the ruins of ancient Hierapolis. We had an incredible view of a snow-capped mountain to our left (yes, it snowed while we were there), the far off mountains straight ahead, and the extensive collection of ruins to the right. After walking down, we came upon large ruins of arches, columns, foundations, walls… the fact that they were unearthed and pretty in tact was astounding. You could really visualize what the place would have looked like all those years ago! Toward the end of the 1.5 + mile walk through Hierapolis, was a humongous cemetery with marble statues, mausoleums, open tombs, and marble coffins with Greek writings still visible etched in the stone.
Pammukale had a great mix of natural and man-made wonders well worth the visit!