On the road to Hierapolis - (Show on the Map) - you come across the extraordinary spectacle of Pamukkale or "Cotton Castle", unique for its cascades of lukewarm calcareous water, which drop after drop, and century after century have covered the walls of the mountain with lacework creating a kind of natural swimming pool. Here as dusk falls, the light is dazzling, creating a spectacle that is one of nature's marvels.
The white cliffs of Pamukkale were formed when a spring with a high content of dissolved calcium bicarbonate cascaded over the edge of the cliff, which cooled and hardened leaving calcium deposits. This formed into natural pools, shelves and ridges.
However, Pamukkale is invaded by visitors not only for it's beauty but for the therapeutic qualities of the water, celebrated since antiquity as being a cure for rheumatism and asthma.
Situated within the walls of one of the hotels, you'll find the ancient thermal pool of Cleopatra, take a dip amongst the waterfalls and collapsed Roman columns and ruins laying on the bottom, almost like an underwater museum. The water is the same warm, mineral water that is found in the travertine pools and some say it feels like being in a warm champagne bath.
There are still Baths at Hierapolis, on the hill above Pamukkale which have now become a museum. The ancient rooms serving as the frigidarium and the caldarium were clad in marble and had vaulted ceilings. In the Museum there is a collection of bronzes, glass and coins found during excavations and an unusual assortment of sculpture.
Near the remnants of a sixth-century Christian basilica with three naves are the foundations of a temple to Apollo, dating from the third century A.D. The recently restored second-century Roman Theatre is beautiful and majestic with fifty rows of travertine steps. The theatre is still in use when dances are performed during the city's much appreciated Festival.
Outside the walls is the Martyrion of the Apostle Philip, a fifth-century sanctuary with an octagonal chamber where it is believed that the saint was martyred in 87 A.D. The unusual Arch of Domitian with a triple arch flanked by two round towers should not be over-looked. It was erected by Julius Frontius, Proconsul, Proconsul of Asia, in honour of the Emperor during the first century A.D. Neither should the city's Necropolis be omitted. There are about one thousand tombs, some small and simple, some majestically sumptuous and impressive, dating from many different periods.
From time immemorial the sick and the moribund, rich and poor, have gathered here seeking the healing powers of waters. Those who died had waiting graves. Hierapolis, meaning "Holy City" was destroyed by earthquakes on more than one occasion. It became a Bishopric see before becoming subject to the Turkish Selcuks; a final earthquake razed the city to the ground after which it was never rebuilt. One unusual detail is that the famous philosopher Antipater, who later became the Emperor Caracalla's tutor, was born here.
How to get there:
There are excursions to Pamukkale from Kusadasi which takes roughly 3 hours.
To get there with public transport, buses depart from both Kusadasi and Selcuk bus station to Denizli.