28 September 2018 | Didim, Turkey 7,323 NM
Pamukkale is Turkey's most visited tourist attraction with streams of coaches ferrying tourists from the coastal resorts arriving from midmorning onwards, so its good to arrive early if you can. We got there just as it opened at 9.00 and it was easy to see why it is so popular.
Mineral rich water comes out of a number of hot springs and flows down the mountainside depositing calcium crystals in beautiful white limestone terraces called travertines and forming brilliant turquoise pools. The travertines cover a large area, probably a mile or two in length and a few hundred metres down the hillside, a truly amazing site.
We entered through the north gate at the top of the site and walked the 3km to the travertines through the ruined necropolis of Hierapolis, the cemetery of an ancient roman spa town that grew up around the springs. The necropolis is spread out either side of a long road with impressive tombs and broken sarcophagi everywhere. On many of the tombs you could still make out Greek and Latin text that named the former occupants. Towards the end of the necropolis we left the road to walk along the cliff edge and get our first close up view of the Travertines. At this end of the site there were almost no other people and we only had to share the view with a very cute dog that walked along with us. We were a bit jealous as he kept leaving the path and walked across the travertines to get the best view, while we had to stick to the path.
In the centre of the site its possible to walk down the mountainside and onto the travertines and bathe/paddle in some of the pools. We chose not to, as by then there was a stream of people walking to them and the crowds put us off. We continued walking along the edge for more fabulous views, before turning away and heading up the hill to explore the ruins of the Roman spa town. The remains of the agora, theatre, some temples and gates in the city walls all impressed. We finished our tour of this site by heading to the ancient roman baths. These baths are fed by the mineral springs and its still possible to bathe in them, in pools littered with broken pillars and other ancient stone work. However the baths have been "renovated" and feel more like a 1960's lido with a few old pillars rather than their roman originals. We opted not to and walked back through the necropolis to the car for the long drive back to Didim.
We stopped for lunch in a service area off the main road. A petrol station and a transport cafe where we had a lunch that we chose by pointing at pictures on the wall as they had no English. It was delicious and only cost around three pounds.
A few miles from Didim, is the lake of Bafa Golu, so we decided to explore its shores a little and stopped for an early evening drink. We sat on a restaurant terrace watching the ducks and geese playing on the shore. A very peaceful way to finish the day.