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Pamukkale, 19 km or 12 miles north of Denizli, is Turkey's foremost mineral-bath spa because of its natural beauty. Hot calcium-laden waters spring from the earth and cascade over a cliff. As they cool they form dramatic travertines of hard, brilliantly white calcium that form pools.

Pamukkale has been a spa since the Romans built the spa city of Hierapolis around a sacred warm-water spring. The Sacred Pool is still there, littered with marble columns from the Roman Temple of Apollo. Pamukkale used to be a favorite stop on every backpacker's trip to Turkey. Adventurous travelers would stay in Pamukkale small pensions and hotels, bask in the warm mineral water of the travertime pools, linger over long dinners with drinks in the evening, exchange tales of the road, and generally have a wonderful time in this laid-back atmosphere. In the 1990s the local authorities undertook a development campaign meant to improve the spa and increase tourism. Misconceived in some ways, the development, along with changes in Turkey's entire tourism picture, resulted in fewer visitors. The word went out that Pamukkale had been ruined and was not the beautiful place it once was.

How is Pamukkale now?

It's true that it is not what it once was, but as time rolls on, things change, and many of the reasons to visit Pamukkale are still valid, one of which is that it makes great sense as a stop on the route between Izmir, Selcuk, Ephesus, Kusadasi or Marmaris and Antalya or Konya.

Three are three locations of importance to visitors of Pamukkale:

  • Pamukkale Town
    At the foot of the travertines, the little town of Pamukkale has numerous small hotels, pensions, restaurants, and such services as shops and bus ticket offices. Many pensions have their own small warm mineral water pools.
  • Karahayit
    Several kilometers to the north of the plateau, the village of Karahayit is surrounded by big resort hotels busy with bus tour groups. More...
  • The Plateau
    The travertines form a plateau atop which is the Sacred Pool, the ruins of Hierapolis, and the Archeological Museum. These are what you want to see. There are three entrances to the plateau.

    As you enter Pamukkale Town in a car, local men on motor scooters will race after you, catch you, and gesture to you to stop your car. When you do, thinking there is perhaps something wrong with your vehicle, or a dangerous situation ahead, you will discover that they only want to sell you something. They will ask if you need a hotel, restaurant, souvenir, carpet, etc. If you need any of these services, they will lead you to them and probably take a commission for their efforts. This may or may not affect the price you pay, I don't know—but I suspect it doesn't lower it. Although they are only trying to make a living, and in some cases do help visitors find things, they can be a nuisance as they will not let you go until they have made their pitch.

    You can reach Pamukkale by car, bus, train or airplane.

    Thinking of exotic locations...?
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