Pamukkale and Hierapolis

Posted by on Sep 2, 2012 in Blog, Turkey | 3 comments

Dates of Travel: 8/6 – 8/9/2012

Pamukkale, which translates to “Cotton Castle” from Turkish, is a geological wonder in southwestern Turkey. The city contains hot springs and travertines, terraces of carbonate minerals left by the flowing water. Anja learned about this natural wonder as a very popular must do in Turkey.

Even though this is a very touristy spot we found the people to be laid back and very hospitable. It was late in the day when we peddled into the small town. At the city gate we were greeted by a young boy who insisted we spend the night at his family’s gas station. So for the second time on our trip we set our tent behind a gas station. But this time we were very clearly given the impression that the family who ran the gas station where genuinely thrilled and honored to have us stay there.

Camping behind gas station

Our campsite behind the gas station.

As much as we loved our camping spot and the polite boy who fetched us clean drinking water every hour, the next night we got a hotel room with air conditioning right across the street from the “Cotton Castle”. The hotel owner Mustafa was a humorous and well-traveled old man with a few extra pounds. He could speak a variety of languages including Southern California surfer dude slang.


Pamukkale – Cotton Castle

Top of Pamukkale

Top of Pamukkale

Pamukkale Travertines

Pamukkale Travertines

Overlooking Pamukkale

Overlooking Pamukkale

We stayed two nights exploring the town, the white calcium faced cliffs and the ancient ruins above. We were both very impressed by the Forum Romanum, a miniature coliseum. The site was in very nice condition thanks to an ongoing restoration project. The entire area above the cliffs was known as Hierapolis, a Greco-Roman settlement from the 2nd century BCE. Even at that time the white faced cliffs and hot springs where an attraction to many seeking relief for their ailments.

Hierapolis ruins on the top of Pamukkale

Ruins of Hierapolis

Forum Romanum at Hierapolis

The old Roman Theater

Eric in the street of Hierapolis

Eric on Main Street of Hierapolis.

On our way back down the cliff side we decided to take a dip in the pools that are fed by the calcium rich water percolating down the hillside. I was timid at first not trusting the milky white waters but after a bit I settled in. We had fun sitting in the white mud and plastering each other with it as a makeshift sunblock.

Walking in the pools of Pamukkale

Walking in the pools.

Eric enjoying a Pamukkale pool

Eric enjoying a dip in one of the pools.

Overall a great area to visit and see. Something other-worldly. With the ancient ruins located here as well, this was definitely a place we were impressed by.

Fixing a flat tire in the hotel room

Eric fixing a flat tire in the hotel room. Not a fun task.


  1. Wow! This looks amazing! Those pools remind me of snow. It looks like you guys are having a fantastic time. So jealous! Sarah and I wish we could have taken the time off to go with you. Maybe next time!

  2. I was here about 12 years ago. It is amazing to me that such natural wonders exist and that civilizations have come and gone and I got to be a small part of it. Did you guys marvel at the enormity of it? It’s so cool that you are biking throughout the world!

  3. How exhilarating to hear about your travels! Meeting the people, immersing yourself in the culture and experiencing the joys of the freedom that travel affords cannot be underestimated. I hope you are keeping a deeper journal about how the trip is changing you. While these pictures and brief stories are wonderful, the inner transformation of a trip like this is what makes travel an integral part of life. Don’t just take from life; grow from it!