Next stop was Pamukkale in the South West interior where we discovered yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site. “Pamukkale” means Cotton Castle in Turkish and it’s not hard to see why. Emerging from the middle of nowhere, this brilliant white mess of travertine stands out like dog’s you-know-whats formed from millions (I suppose) of years of deposited minerals from the thermal springs flowing over the hill. It’s a pretty amazing thing to see, particularly if you can imagine it not swarming with busload after busload of tourists. It wasn’t so bad for us though, since we’d driven there we stayed a couple of nights and were able to spend as long as we wanted at the travertines. We spent an entire day from around 9am to 9pm there and got to explore every inch of it which was fantastic, better than the two or so hours the bus groups get.
The waters are supposed to have healing powers so swimming is a must if you want to live beyond 35 apparently, there’s even a giant pool there that used to be a hotel. A few decades ago one smart cookie, realising the potential for tourism, built a hotel smack bang in the middle of the place and filled the pool with ruins and of course the thermal spring waters. Nowadays the hotel has been shut down but you can still swim in the pool.
Heirapolis is the other part of this place that we spent a lot of time at. It’s just behind the travertines and is a massive ancient city. There would have been at least 20 separate archaeological digs going on as we walked around. It makes you wonder how much more is buried there. It’s truly impressive and there’s hardly anybody around so we got to take our time and absorb everything properly.
The town of Pamukkale isn’t much of an attraction in itself. Turkish people are well accustomed to tourists and would attempt to persuade you into buying their grandmother if they could, we had one guy run out onto the road three times to sell us a book in Turkish – yeah real handy. We did however manage to find a Japanese restaurant which was unbelievably exciting. The lady who runs the restaurant is Japanese and came to Pamukkale on a tour over ten years ago. She obviously caught the eye of a Turkish Casanova who chased her down on his quad bike and professed his love for her, hence she’s live there ever since. Crazy.
Good times, I think it’s a must if you’re going to Turkey to see this.