Pamukkale’s impressive travertine terraces are a natural wonder and one of the most visited individual sites in Turkey, yet visitors often struggle to avoid crowds and experience this incredible destination fully. Here are a few tips on how you can avoid them and fully experience its glory!
Pamukkale (Turkish for cotton castle), is an impressive natural site characterized by white formations that resemble frozen waterfalls or cotton plantations – hence its nickname!
Pamukkale’s travertine terraces are formed from precipitation of calcium carbonate from hot spring water, rising from deep underground sources and carrying with it various dissolved minerals such as magnesium (Mg), calcium (Ca) and bicarbonate which settle out to form solid deposits that build over time. As the water cools off these deposits become ever more stable as time goes on forming an ever-evolving natural wonder that changes over time.
Travertine gets its white hue due to a high concentration of calcium carbonate, reflecting sunlight back onto its surface like snowflakes. Terraces may take different shapes and colors depending on mineral content, flow rate, topography of an area. Pamukkale features mostly calcite-rich travertines while Badab-e Surt offers plenty of aragonite-rich ones.
Due to fluctuating temperatures and mineral compositions, travertines can also form waterfall-like cascades due to temperature changes. This natural phenomenon is common across many locations around the globe including Huanglong in Sichuan Province of China (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), Mammoth Hot Springs in United States, Egerszalok Hungary Mahallat Abbass Abad Atash Kooh Badab-e Surt Iran Lagunas de Ruidera Spain Hierve El Agua Guatemala Semuc Champey Mexico
Since ancient times, travertines have been recognized for their healing waters. Many believe they can aid with treating cardiovascular, circulatory, nerve, kidney and paralytic conditions along with conditioning the skin. Furthermore, travertine has long been utilized as a natural dyeing source as it contains strong mordants to dye woolen and cotton fabrics.
Caldag’s calcareous waters have created an extraordinary landscape of mineral forests and petrified waterfalls, earning this place its ancient name of Hierapolis (“Holy City”) and modern one of Pamukkale (“Cotton Castle”). Such unique geological formations fully justify its recognition by UNESCO World Heritage.
Hierapolis stands as an ethereal landscape replete with the remains of an Attalid-founded Hellenistic spa town from Pergamon known as Hierapolis, while during Christian era Hierapolis became an important church center visited by apostle Paul himself.
At the center of it all are the thermal baths and theatre, two impressive Roman ruins that boast some of the finest carvings and statues found anywhere in ancient structures. Seating 15,000 spectators at once, the theater may have been used both for religious as well as secular performances.
Hierapolis’ Necropolis is worthy of exploration as well, featuring numerous tombs that include well-preserved baked earth sarcophagi. Of particular note is St. Philip Martyrium – a shrine honoring their namesake martyred during the 5th century in Hierapolis.
Since 1984, the Hierapolis travertines have served as home for an archaeological museum which displays artifacts from both its great baths and nearby sites such as Laodicea, Colossae and Attuda. This exhibition space consists of closed areas in the Great Baths as well as open areas on the eastern part of the complex; regular excavations continue at this location.
Laodicea, one of seven cities mentioned in Revelation, can be found in Denizli Province – more commonly known by its Turkish name Pamukkale – in western Turkey. Laodicea holds an invaluable place in Christian history and its name remains highly symbolic to today’s church community.
Christ chastised Laodiceans in Chapter 3 of Revelation for being too lukewarm (Revelation 3:16). Though Laodicea may have been abundant with material goods, their charity did not extend beyond their immediate circle. Laodicean citizens failed to realize that material wealth cannot fill an inner emptiness within themselves.
Laodicea stood astride two of the major trade routes of Greco-Roman world in the first century AD. One route connected Laodicea with nearby cities of Hierapolis and Colossae, known for their hot spring waters; while another led south toward Cilicia – where Paul was born.
Due to Laodicea’s location near rich cities like Tyre and Sidon, its inhabitants could take advantage of their wealth. Proud of their possessions and confident that they were immune from attack by adversary nations, Laodiceans took great pleasure in feeling secure in themselves based on this wealth. Their arrogant attitudes only compounded this impression. Their actions and attitude toward Christ differed markedly from what Scripture taught; indeed lukewarm is often used as an adjective describing their spiritual state because their actions neither cold nor hot.
4. Hot Air Balloon Ride
Balloons provide an incredible aerial view over Pamukkale and offer breathtaking panoramas of vineyards, horse farms and wildlife in their immediate surroundings.
As part of your balloon ride you will have an unparalleled opportunity to take some beautiful photographs. Perhaps even be lucky enough to witness a rainbow! Hot air balloons fly at the speed of wind so there’s no turbulence and therefore no need for life vests.
On November 21, 1783, two noblemen, Francois Pilatre de Rozier and Marquis d’Arlanders were taken aloft in a paper and silk balloon by the Montgolfier brothers from Annonay, France in their maiden hot air balloon flight conducted by them.
Full balloon flights typically last approximately one hour, including preparation and inflating of the balloon prior to taking flight. After your ride has concluded, an air conditioned van will transport you back to the take-off site where there will be champagne toasting and light snack celebrating your adventure!
Arrive at the time we specify and be prepared to stay a little longer if needed. A Liability Release Form must be signed before being allowed on board, passengers should wear comfortable clothing with closed toe shoes, and we regret that due to adverse weather or wind conditions the balloon may not fly safely.