Turkish travertines

hierapolis pamukkale turkey, white cliffs, pools, visiting pamukkale, calcium travertines

Turkish travertines

  |   27 Comments

This is the website of travel writer, Michael Turtle. After working in broadcast journalism for a decade in Australia, Michael left Sydney to travel the world indefinitely and write about his discoveries.

Pamukkale, Turkey

“Shoes off,” the guard at Pamukkale instructs me. I look ahead – a long and wide white pathway lies before me, filled with visitors with their shoes in the hands. I take mine off and step onto the strange-looking surface.

I know from my research that it’s calcium, washed down in the water and hardened over the centuries. It feels solid to touch and, as I start to walk along, a soft flow of water splashes over my feet. I make my way up the path, which is leading towards the top of the cliffs. Large pools of water have formed in terraces along the side and, if you dared walk amongst the young children playing in them, you would find softer deposits of calcium that your feet would sink into slightly.

hierapolis pamukkale turkey, white cliffs, pools, visiting pamukkale, calcium travertines

hierapolis pamukkale turkey, white cliffs, pools, visiting pamukkale, calcium travertines

At the top of the cliffs (where I’m allowed to put my shoes back on) is a track that leads further long the top of the ridge. Here is where the real beauty of the terraces of travertines reveals itself. Pool upon pool cascade into each other from the water which runs down into them. Some are now empty because of overuse by tourists over the years but there are enough to get the impression – and it’s stunning.

hierapolis pamukkale turkey, white cliffs, pools, visiting pamukkale, calcium travertines

I’ve arrived at Pamukkale just before sunset and the changing light creates an animate spectacle as the colours morph in front of me. At one point as strong wind picks up and the water comes alive, jumping out of the travertines and blowing across the cliff into my face.

hierapolis pamukkale turkey, white cliffs, pools, visiting pamukkale, calcium travertines

hierapolis pamukkale turkey, white cliffs, pools, visiting pamukkale, calcium travertines

hierapolis pamukkale turkey, white cliffs, pools, visiting pamukkale, calcium travertines

Hierapolis-Pamukkale

For thousands of years, the pools – and the water within them – have been considered to have health benefits. Two thousand years ago, the spa city of Hierapolis was built at the top of the cliffs. And in the middle of the last century, a collection of modern hotels was also constructed to make the most of the minerals.

hierapolis pamukkale turkey, white cliffs, pools, visiting pamukkale, calcium travertines

hierapolis pamukkale turkey, white cliffs, pools, visiting pamukkale, calcium travertines

These days the ruins of Hierapolis are still there and are worth visiting. The hotels, on the other hand, have been completely demolished after it was decided they were causing too much damage to the site and the whole area was heritage-protected.

Whereas once you could swim in the travertines, now security guards keep a watchful eye on anyone trying to get too close. Other than a special swimming pool that has been constructed away from the cliffs, Pamukkale is generally to be seen but not touched these days.

hierapolis pamukkale turkey, white cliffs, pools, visiting pamukkale, calcium travertines

In many ways, that’s to be applauded. The site is a truly remarkable natural phenomenon and it would be a pity if human interference damaged it permanently for future generations. There were certainly no complaints from anyone about taking their shoes off.

UNESCO world heritage siteThis is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. For more info click here.
You can see all the UNESCO World Heritage Sites I’ve visited here.

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27 Comments
  • Laurence | Sep 4, 2012 at 6:04 pm

    That is a stunning location. I read all about New Zealand’s white and pink terraces when I was there, but since they were destroyed I believe these are the last terraces of their type in the world. Truly an epic place to visit – and gorgeous photos!
    Laurence recently posted..That time I nearly died in the OutbackMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Sep 6, 2012 at 5:51 pm

      Oh, I didn’t realise these could be the last of their type in the world. Makes the place even more special, I guess. And even more reason to preserve them!

      • Daniela | Feb 19, 2014 at 8:42 am

        There’s another place like this in Italy, though smaller and less known to foreigners. It’s still free and open for everyone :)

        • Michael Turtle | Apr 4, 2014 at 7:45 am

          Oh, I’d never heard of anything like this in Italy. I would love to know what it’s called and might try to go someday.

  • Angela | Sep 5, 2012 at 12:49 am

    wow – breathtaking, I would stay there one month taking the same pictures over and over again.
    Angela recently posted..White dunes and sandy beaches, the natural wonders of Jericoacoara, BrazilMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Sep 6, 2012 at 5:50 pm

      From the number of photos I took, I could have possibly been there for a month!! :)

  • A Montrealer Abroad (@amontrealer) | Sep 5, 2012 at 7:02 am

    This seems so surreal, what an out-of-this-world landscape!

    • Michael Turtle | Sep 6, 2012 at 5:49 pm

      It did seem a bit surreal at times. I’ve never seen anything quite like it before.

  • D.J. - The World of Deej | Sep 5, 2012 at 7:42 am

    Stunning stuff…I’ve not heard of this place till now…
    D.J. – The World of Deej recently posted..The Blogger Relay – My Top 3 Travel MemoriesMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Sep 6, 2012 at 5:45 pm

      I hadn’t heard about it until I started doing some research on where to stop along the way. There were plenty of tourists there but a lot of them seemed to be Turkish.

  • Elmer Cruz | Sep 5, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    Fabulous! It’s a pity you can’t swim anymore but the upside is its preservation. Let’s hope the future generation would care as much.
    Elmer Cruz recently posted..Introducing Dumaguete – The City of Gentle PeopleMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Sep 6, 2012 at 5:44 pm

      I think ultimately the preservation is a much better idea. But, you’re right, it would have been fun to have had a quick dip! :)

  • Natalie | Sep 5, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    You have done the place proud.Last time i went was about 11 years ago but I am hampering to get back. Never a place that I can tire off
    Natalie recently posted..Is Trabzon The City Of Love?My Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Sep 6, 2012 at 5:43 pm

      You could spend so long there… days maybe… just watching it all. And with the changing light in the evening, I could hardly take my eyes off it!

  • Cole @ FourJandals.com | Sep 5, 2012 at 9:10 pm

    Beautiful. And so glad they are protected now. Did you smack that kid in the side of the head?
    Cole @ FourJandals.com recently posted..La Notte Rosa Sunrise in RiminiMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Sep 6, 2012 at 5:42 pm

      I actually quite liked the kid jumping in there. It gave me a bit of a sense of what it must have looked like when anyone could jump in and swim. And made me realise how glad I am that they’re not allowed to now!

  • Mary @ Green Global Travel | Sep 8, 2012 at 3:17 am

    Amazing natural phenomenon- thanks for sharing! I’m glad it’s protected so that it will still be there for that child’s grandchildren to enjoy.
    Mary @ Green Global Travel recently posted..Announcing Our Next Grand Adventure!My Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Sep 14, 2012 at 8:11 pm

      It’s sad to think that they let it be abused by tourists for so long. That they even let hotels be built at the top seems incomprehensible once you’ve been there and seen it for yourself!

  • Jade Johnston - OurOyster.com | Sep 8, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    wow this place looks amazing!! I need to go here
    Jade Johnston – OurOyster.com recently posted..Vote For Us For Best Budget Travel BlogMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Sep 14, 2012 at 8:12 pm

      If you’re heading to Turkey, I would definitely recommend you make the effort to head here. It’s not worth missing, even if it seems a little out of the way.

  • Aleyan Khan | Sep 8, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    Magnificent sight. Thanks so much for sharing. I’ve never seen anything like this before. It’s amazing how pure white they are and I’m so glad to know that they are taking some serious steps to protect this unmatched treasure. Truly Breathtaking.
    Aleyan Khan recently posted..Pamukkale – The Cotton Castle of TurkeyMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Sep 14, 2012 at 8:13 pm

      Yeah, they are really white! It sort of looks like cotton candy from a distance so it’s fascinating to then see it all up close.

  • Peggy | Sep 20, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    Love your site, Michael! I loved Istanbul when I visited but didn’t get a chance to visit Pamukkale or Cappadocia. Thanks for sharing this – at least I get to live vicariously through you!

    PS: It’s warming up to summer in Sydney, in case you’re missing home!
    Peggy recently posted..A few of my favourite things: RomeMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Oct 1, 2012 at 3:24 am

      Ha ha, thanks Peggy. Sounds like I’ll have to make a trip back to Sydney sooner rather than later then! :)

  • denizlihotel.com | Mar 21, 2013 at 1:45 am

    Nice story and pictures.

    • Michael Turtle | Mar 26, 2013 at 5:37 pm

      Thanks. It’s a beautiful place!

  • 10 Photos of the Cotton Castle in Pamukkale | BLOG.Dot TV | Nov 7, 2013 at 3:19 am

    […] those looking to take a dip, sadly you’re out of luck. As world traveler Michael Turtle states, “Whereas once you could swim in the travertines, now security guards keep a watchful […]

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