Pamukkale means ‘Cotton Castle’ in Turkish and perfectly describes the white terraces, known as travertines, which tread their way down the hillside. Each pool is created from startling white limestone deposits filled with water from 17 of the natural hot water springs in the area.
The terraces are like hundreds of mini infinity pools that hug the hillside leading down to the town below. The shallow water reflects the cobalt blue skies above.
People have bathed in the pools for hundreds of years and at one time hotels at the top of the travertines used the water from the pools. This took a serious toll on the site which was in danger of being damaged beyond repair. The hotels have since been demolished and visitors are no longer allowed to wear shoes in the pools. The the water is now channelled in rotation as there is not enough to fill the whole site at any one time. Fortunately the travertines are now slowly recovering.
We spent a couple of hours exploring the remains of Hieropolis, the ancient town built at the top of Pamukkale. Afterwards we paddled in the travertines. Whistles were blasted at offenders not removing their shoes before walking on the limestone – yes some tourists still actually do this.
Up close the limestone was a miniature version of the travertines themselves and just a little rough to walk on – by the time we got to the bottom my feet felt really soft after the buffing they’d had.
As the sun slowly started to sink the light reflected off the limestone giving it a soft golden glow and the moon rose in the sky above.
This was the second stop on our mini-tour of Turkey. From Goreme we travelled eight hours on the night bus to Dinizli and then by Dolmus to Pamukkale itself arriving in the town at dawn.