- BLACK SEA
- EASTERN TURKEY
Pamukkale has been made eternally famous by the gleaming white calcite shelves overrunning with warm, mineral-rich waters on the mountain above the village – the so-called ‘Cotton Castle' (pamuk means 'cotton' in Turkish). While it is tempting to wallow in the travertines, just above them lies Hierapolis, once a Roman and Byzantine spa city which has considerable ruins and a museum. Unesco World Heritage status has brought more extensive measures to protect the glistening bluffs, and put paid to the days of freely traipsing around everywhere, but the travertines remain one of Turkey’s singular experiences, even with restricted bathing.
While the photogenic travertines get busloads of day-trippers passing through for a quick soak and photo op, staying overnight allows you to visit the site at sunset and dodge some of the crowds. This also gives time for a day trip to the beautiful and little-visited ancient ruins of Afrodisias and Laodicea, and to appreciate the village of Pamukkale itself. It is a dedicated tourist town around Cumhuriyet Meydanı, but in quieter parts of the village life is still soundtracked by bleating goats and birdsong.