Pamukkale and the ancient city of Hierapolis

Turkey is a country very rich in terms of thermal sources. There are numerous underground hot water sources especially in Aegean Region at the west of the country. However, most of them do not serve the tourism sector.

The thermal source of Pamukkale among them located near the Denizli city in the south of Aegean Region is world famous. There’s just one formation similar to Pamukkale at Hierve el Agua in Mexico. But what makes Pamukkale unique is the ancient city of Hierapolis.


The travertine is a slip formed by a multifaceted chemical reaction and subsequent precipitation of various causes and environments.  The geological events that led to the thermal source of Pamukkale affected a large area.  In this region, there are 17 hot water areas with temperatures ranging from 35-100 degrees Celsius. Pamukkale source has been used since antiquity.

The thermal water comes from the source with a channel of 320 m length per travertine, and from there it is poured into the travertine floors where 60-70 m of partial sedimentation takes place, and it travels 240-300 meters on average.

During contact with oxygen in the air, the water containing high amounts of Calcium Hydrocarbonate in the 35.6 C warming temperature causes carbon dioxide and Carbon monoxide to fly causing calcium carbonate to precipitate and form travertine.  The precipitate is in the gel state in the first step.  Calcium carbonate which is precipitating in the layer pods and creases is initially a soft gel.

It becomes hard and transforms into travertine over time.  However, the movement of the walk through the floors causes the soft calcium carbonate to crumble and disperse. Travertines are provided within a particular program with thermal water control.  Water that has been pumped for a long time causes algae and therefore unpleasant pollution in travertines.  In the formation of whiteness; weather conditions, heat loss, flow propagation, and duration are influential.  Precipitation continues until the carbon dioxide in the thermal water reaches the equilibrium of the atmospheric carbon dioxide.

The area is entered from two different gates at north and south sides. When you choose the south gate, you walk directly through the travertines. You need to take off your shoes after passing the ticket office. The reason is to protect the rocky texture of the region. While walking slowly through the white-looking travertines such as cotton on your feet, a magnificent view makes you a companion for a short time. Also, keep in mind that Pamukkale means “the cotton castle.”


Consider a pool that has existed for two thousand years. It has columns and marbles of the structures built in the Antique Age inside. Filled with extremely healing thermal water. Sounds nice, doesn’t it?

The Hierapolis Antique Pool is located just above Pamukkale Travertines. The pool located in Hierapolis Ancient City came to light after the collapse of the agora building during an earthquake in year 60 AD.

It is known that the thermal water flowing into the Ancient Pool is good for heart diseases, arteriosclerosis, blood pressure, rheumatism, skin, eye, rickets, paralysis, nerve diseases, vascular diseases and stomach spasms. So that tourists from various parts of the world come to Pamukkale to swim in this pool. It is even reported that the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra swam in this pool, and for this reason the pool is also referred as the “Cleopatra Pool.”

In order to get to the Antique Pool, you first have to enter the Hierapolis Ancient City, which is under UNESCO protection. Then there is another fee for swimming in the Antique Pool. The ancient city and the pool are open every day of the week.

And remember that sun creams and their variants are prohibited to keep the quality of the water. Also, since there are broken marbles in the pool, you should pay attention not to cut your foot.

Swimming in this beautiful and unique pool is one of the most unusual experiences of the world.


The ancient geographers Strabon and Ptolemy suggest that Hierapolis is a Phrygian city, with the proximity to the cities of Laodikeia and Tripolis bordered by the Karia region. In ancient sources, there is no information about the city’s pre-Hellenistic name. We know that there is a life in the city before it is called Hierapolis because of the cult of Mother Goddess.

Despite the limited knowledge of the city’s founding, it is thought that legendary King of Pergamon, Eumenes II found the city and named after Hiera, the Amazonian wife of Telephos.

Hierapolis maintained its development by adhering to the Hellenistic urbanization principles.


During the excavations in 2013, the “Ploutonium Sanctuary” also known as the “Hell Gate” came to light as well as the entrance of the cave which is the “gateway to the dead land.”

In antiquity, where the Pagan belief is dominant, Hierapolis was called the “Holy City” because of the presence of this cave, from which the thermal waters and the gas (carbon dioxide) come that leads to the death of the approaching creatures. Because of this, the cave was accepted as the entrance of the underground world ruled by Plouton and his wife Persophone. Cicero, Emperor Hadrian and Philosopher Damascius were the visitors of the “Hell Gate.”

Virtual collage of Ploutonium

Situated about an hour away from the city center, Pamukkale has a much more different geography than Denizli. There are many hotels surrounding the travertine region where you can find thermal water of Pamukkale in each room’s bathtub. From the end of the travertines, the hotels and pensions start. But if you prefer multi-star thermal hotels, you have to stretch out a little bit outside the region. The hostels in the center offers a very cheap and comfortable accommodation.

When you come to Pamukkale, you should definitely choose sports clothes that you will be comfortable with. It is so easy to get lost in fresh air, great scenery and history. Air temperature does not bother you very much especially in autumn and spring seasons. Let’s not forget swimwear, bikinis and towels.

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