When most backpackers embark on a trip to Turkey, the automatic go-to city is Istanbul (and for good reason.) However, for a well-rounded experience, travelers should consider balancing the popular spots with some of the less-known and overlooked wonders of the world. A detour to World Heritage Site Pamukkale, Turkey is an archaeological venture that you won’t regret. Plus it won’t take time away from your other plans since you don’t need longer than a day to explore its grounds
Things to Do
Translating to “cotton castle” from Turkish, Pamukkale inherits its name from the strange and beautiful configurations of white, crystal-looking travertines, a form of limestone deposited by mineral springs. Bubbling with 17 hot springs across its terraces, you absolutely have to take a dip in one of the thermal baths, which have been used since Roman times for their therapeutic powers. While soaking in the springs, overlook the surreal scenery of snow-like slopes and remarkable plateau-top views.
Pamukkale is also home to the biblical site and ruins of Hierapolis meaning “holy city” that dates back to around 190 BC. Here travelers can take a swim in the natural “Sacred Pool” amongst the roman ruins, tour the Roman amphitheatre, or roam Netropolis, one of the best-preserved cemeteries in Turkey. There are more remainings to be discovered from the Temple of Apollo as well as the enchanting nymphaeum fountain.
Where to Stay
One of our favorite places to stay for a trek to Pamukkale is the Artemis Yoruk Hostel, and not just because of its prime location being a mere 2 minute walk from the entrance of the travertines and Hierapolis. Here you can take advantage of Pamukkale’s reputation as a historical spa city with the hostel sauna (free to use before 8 pm) swimming pool, or with a sunbath on the terrace. The family-run business offers you a relaxed and personal atmosphere, an idyllic break from the fast-paced metropolis of Istanbul.
Artemis Yoruk also has their own restaurant and bar serving traditional Turkish food, which is convenient for daytrips when you may not want to waste time searching for a place to eat or have a drink. But you won’t have to worry about breakfast, that’s included!
Visiting Pamukkale is like taking a step into an ancient world. The remnants of the Roman theatre, cemetery tombstones, and temples are as ethereal as they are beautiful, and echo reminders of a past culture with its own legends and tales to tell. Not only will you find yourself reflective of the site’s rich history and sacred significance, but you will also find sacred significance in the sheer landscape. It’s just one of those places where the natural looks supernatural, where the Earth transforms itself into art, and you will leave in awe with the crazy, mystical way that nature can work.