Pamukkale, Turkey

An honest opinion about Pamukkale

By Sergio Camalich

We can’t deny the fact that Pamukkale is an incredibly beautiful place and there’s a reason why it’s been famous across the globe for thousands of years.

It’s pristine white layers of calcium which resemble cotton—thus giving this place its name—and the turquoise blue of its hot springs are a sight that no one on their right judgment should miss.

Mexicans, we like to brag about how there are only two places like this in the word; Pamukkale in Turkey and Hierve el Agua in Mexico. Although, as my Thai friends would say: “same same, but different”.

Not content with the fact that Pamukkale is gorgeous just by being the way it is, the greeks decided to build the city of Hierapolis on above Pamukkale—like a cherry on top of a vanilla cake. Just imagining the crazy parties that might have been thrown here make my face go red.


Pamukkale means Cotton Castle in TurkishUh-oh!

Sadly, before it was declared Human Patrimony in the 80’s, Pamukkale’s mismanagement allowed a bunch of hotels and spas to be built on top of it, thousands of people stepping with their shoes over the delicate travertines while taking showers with chemicals and even motorbikes riding up and down the hill.

The excessive tourism also “forced” the hotels to bring water from external sources, augmenting the corrosion and the damage is clearly visible in some areas.

Long gone are the days when you could walk down into the travertines and relax on the warm waters. Most of them are dry, even.

Instead, they’ve built several pools where you can sit and enjoy the view.

Man-made pool on top of PamukkalePamukkale’s man-made pools

Now, I’m not trying to be a pessimist here. All I’m saying is that you might have to lower your expectations just a notch, since most of the promotional pictures of Pamukkale were taken a long time ago, before people realised they were ruining the place.

Pamukkale is still impressive, even looking at it from far away and very well worth a visit. Add to it the fact that you have one of the most well preserved archaeologic sites in the region and you got yourself a great treat.

Plus, if you have a couple of bucks to spare, you might as well treat yo’ self with a dip inside an ancient bath, where you can use a greek column as a chair.

Hierapolis ancient greek bath on top of PamukkaleLuxurious!

In the end, it is well worth the pain of having to walk uphill while barefoot, knowing that you’re helping preserve one of Earth’s most unique places.

Baby Jesus would be proud.

More pictures from Pamukkale

Pamukkale's dried travertinesPamukkale’s dried travertines Going down the man-made poolsGoing down Pamukkale’s pools Detail of one of Pamukkale's travertinesDetail of one of Pamukkale’s travertines The travertines of PamukkaleThe travertines of Pamukkale Walking barefoot to get to the top of PamukkaleYou have to be barefoot to climb to the top of Pamukkale


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