Although Pamukkale itself is barely a three-street village, it's been eternally famous for the gleaming white calcite shelves overrunning with warm, mineral-rich waters on the mountain above it – the so-called ‘Cotton Castle' (pamuk means 'cotton' in Turkish).
While many visitors are content to laze in the travertines, just above them lies Hierapolis, once a Roman and Byzantine spa city which has considerable preserved ruins and a museum (a single ticket allows access to both the travertines and Hierapolis). Unesco World Heritage status (granted in 1988) has brought more extensive measures to protect the glistening bluffs. Yet though the days of freely traipsing around everywhere are long gone (and with them, much of the local nightlife), Pamukkale remains one of Turkey’s singular experiences, even if costs have risen and bathing has been restricted.
While the photogenic travertines get busloads of day-trippers passing through for a quick soak and photo op, staying overnight is useful for those wishing to see the very worthwhile ancient ruins of Laiodikeia and Aphrodisias. Such sites are off the tourist trail, meaning you'll have a relaxing time, whether going independently or with an (inexpensive and hassle-free) day tour from Pamukkale.
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Pamukkale destination guides
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