There are actually two main sites to see here: the more famous Pamukkale and the less famous Hierapolis, the ruined remains of an ancient Greek city built in 2nd BC.
Both are UNESCO World Heritage Sites and they are situated adjacent to each other.
The word Pammukale means Cotton castle in Turkish. Personally it resembles more like a frozen water falls. Pamukkale is still an iconic site, considered its travertine pools and terraces of the mineral rich hot springs that dominate the hillside at the edge of town.
Not until they became UNESCO World Heritage Sites, both sites were poorly managed by the private spa resorts and luxurious hotels built around the areas. Years of trampling and mismanagements, such as rediverting the themal water to these hotels and building the ramp along the terraces, the springs (Pamukkale) were/are in bad shape.
As a result, those famous travertine pools from all of the brochures are actually devoid of water (at least when I visited in 2009). Now an ambitious management program has begun to restore the travertine pools to their former glory.
By the time we reached Pamukale from Ephesus (200 km away) it was around 4:00pm or so. Summer in Greece and Turkey was just no jokingly steamy hot. Looking back on the photos, my zeal for photography was "killed" by the excessive heat.
The Pamukkale - the summer searing heat makes it rather unbearable.
To protect the unique mineral deposits, shoes are not allowed. All visitors must take off their shoes as they walk up the terraces. I honestly quite grimaced at the thought of walking barefoot under the scorching sun, even on the lovely white, pebble-strewed surface of travertine. Thankfully the soothing nature of the spring water helped easing the discomfort a little bit.
To correct the past wrongs, they turned the old ramps into artificial pools to collect the spring waters.
As I climbed up the terraces, I started up a conversation with a lovely British couple who chose to retire in a fishing village in Southwest Turkey. Knowing my background, they shared how they struggled to choose between Malaysia and Turkey during their decision-making. They logistically chose Turkey over Malaysia due to its proximity to England. They introduced me to the fact that Malaysia has been famous among the western retirees as one of the retirement heavens. Penang, my sweet hometown, is ranked top 10 in CNN.com (2015) as an ideal retirement city among the expats.
At the top of Pamukkale lies the ruins site of Hierapolis. From there, one could follow the signs to explore the considerable large ruin site. We skipped the site as we just visited Ephesus in the morning and we did have a night bus to catch for Cappodocia.
I did take a peek at the impressive amphithether. Legend has it that Apostle Phillip was crucified here and his tomb is in the necropolis site here.
Also, somewhere here there was a less visited section of terraces that are filled with spring water. Look for them.
1/3 of our itinerary included visiting the former glory of ancient Greece cities, which are ruined sites now. Too many ruin sites within too short of a time I actually started to feel "ruin-sites-hangover"; they started to look the same, feel the same, merely piles of headless/armless sculptures and fallen fragmented columns lying around on an open field.
More pictures below...
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