No trip for Instagramers to Turkey is complete without a trip to the stunning natural wonder of Pamukkale.
The bright white mineral terraces of Pamukkale are world famous and are one of Turkey’s most famous postcards. It’s a stunning sight and a magnet for Instagrammers everywhere. But is best considered one of three area attractions (all part of the same day trip). These are the mineral terraces of Pamukkale, the Greek and Roman ruins of Hieropolis and the Roman ruins of Laodecia.
Visiting Pamukkale is one of the most important things on anyone’s itinerary – along with flying in Cappadocia‘s iconic hot air balloons. Not only is it a beautiful destination, but it is also a historic destination. Turkey’s most historic destination is the truly ancient Neolithic ruins of Gobekli Tepe in eastern Turkey.
The travertine pools of Pamukkale
In Turkish, Pamukkale means “cotton castle” and is famous for the travertine pools formed by carbonate minerals left over from flowing hot springs. They have been formed and shaped over millennia by the calcite-rich spring that slowly flows down the mountainside.
- Name: Turkish for “Cotton Castle”
Most pools are closed to tourists in order to protect and preserve them (many have suffered damage and pollution from tourism). But some are open and visitors can paddle through the water and indulge in their Instagram photos. There is no additional charge to enter these pools. For those looking to spice up their Instagram photos a bit more, there are even “angel wings” for rent on the site.
- To access: Some of the pools are open to the public
Inside the ruins of Hierapolis is the “Pool of Cleopatra” where one can swim in hot spring water. It is a thermal natural pool that has been developed and has included some of the ancient ruins in the design of the pool. One can enjoy the thermal waters as the ancients of Hierapolis once did – and many ancient pillars have been placed in the pool to add to its exotic and ancient atmosphere.
- The swimming pool of Cleopatra: A thermal pool developed inside the ruins of Hierapolis
- Cost: 100 Turkish liras (about $8) – from February 2022
The Greek city of Hierapolis
Immediately behind the thermal springs lies the ancient Greek (later Roman and Byzantine) city of Hierapolis. The ruins of this ancient city are truly impressive.
- Name: Hierapolis means “holy city”
Hierapolis contains one of the most impressive necropolises (city of the dead) of the ancient Roman world. The necropolis stretches for miles, with the ancient road filled with countless impressive tombs, mini mausoleums and sarcophagi. There are so many that it is often difficult for people to explore them all – and only a fraction have even been excavated.
- Necropolis: The Hierapolis necropolis is one of the most impressive
The thermal springs of Hierapolis have attracted people since ancient times and were even mentioned in the book of Revelation in the letter to Laodicea.
Today, the terraced pools of Pamukkale and the ruins of Hierapolis are World Heritage Sites.
- UNESCO: The Travertine Terraces and Hierapolis have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988
Notably, Hierapolis is also the site of the supposed burial of the Apostle Philip. According to tradition, Philip was martyred in Hierapolis. Tradition holds that he and Bartholomew were crucified upside down, but Philip continued to preach from the cross.
Overcome by Philip’s preaching, the mob freed Bartholomew, but Philip insisted that they not release him. He died on the cross (another tradition has it that he was beheaded at Hierapolis).
- To visit: The supposed tomb of Saint Philip
In 2011, the tomb of Saint-Philippe was reportedly discovered by archaeologists and visitors can visit it today. The supposed relics of Saint Philip are in the crypt of the Basilica of Santi Apostoli in Rome.
Ruins of Laodicea
Laodicea is only a 15 or 20 minute drive from Pamukkale (the travertine terraces are easily visible from Laodocia).
It was once a remarkable Roman city that was repeatedly damaged and destroyed in earthquakes. Today the ruins are all very impressive and well worth seeing. The ruins house not one but two very interesting amphitheatres.
One of these amphitheaters is partially restored, meaning you can see the amphitheater (as it would have been), while the other is completely intact (as archaeologists would have found it).
- Combined ticket:
- Laodicea and Hierapolis: 130 Turkish liras (about $10 in February 2022)
When John wrote the book of Revelation, he included it as one of the “Seven Churches in Asia (then a Roman province)”. Whereas John wrote beautiful things or a mixture of good and bad things to the other churches. He only slapped the Laodicea church.
Next: This basilica is the main attraction in Vatican City (and the largest in the world)
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