23 July 2013

The Cotton Castle

From Selcuk we took a three hour bus ride to Pamukkale, or, the Cotton Castle. Pamukkale is that thing you know you've seen pictures of but can't figure out why people are hanging out on snow banks in their bikinis.

The Pamukkale travertines are made out of limestone. In order to protect it you have to walk it barefoot. It looks really rough (and is in some spots) but for the most part is easy to walk on. And what roughness there is you're rather happy for because water covers the entire surface and the ridges, caused by the constant flow of water, provide traction.

I did not mess with the colors-it really looks like that
The water that runs down Pamukkale gathers into a pond in the public park (above). Along the travertines it collects in pools, creating clear, bright blue circles of cool water against the very very white limestone.

We were so glad we ignored Lonely Planet's advice to start in Hieropolis then finish on Pamukkale. We decided to walk up to Hieropolis through the travertines since that was the entrance closest to us. Totally worth it. At 9AM there were very few people about and it was still fairly cool (i.e. maybe 87 instead of the 93 it would be later) and parts of the travertines were in shadow. In the afternoon the place was crawling with people and none of us even bothered to take out our cameras since you couldn't get a good shot of anything. You could barely even get in any of the pools they were all so crowded.

It was nice to stop in each of the pools. In the morning some were still quite cool but by the time we made our way down they were all warm from the sun. The limestone the running water erodes gathers in the bottoms of the pools so while walking on the limestone wasn't really slippery, sometimes walking in the pools was because the collected limestone powder makes a kind of clay. 

We didn't wear out bathing suits but plenty other people were wearing theirs and lounging in the pools. None were very deep, I think the deepest was only up to my knees, so mostly people were just soaking. And a fair few people were also doing amateur 'glamor shots'. So even if the view of the travertines was ruined in the afternoon by the sheer amount of people, there was plenty of entertainment to be had. 

There were easily 10 times the amt of people only a few hours later
While it was not slippery, it was a little tricky to walk in some places. The water rushed quite fast in a few sections and with the natural erosion, we really had to watch our steps to make sure we were putting our feet down somewhere safe. I am happy to report that I did not fall, not once!

This really was a fascinating place to visit. The town of Pamukkale isn't much, you can tell that it pretty much grew up around the ruins and travertines as it seems to consist largely of restaurants and hotels. Also don't expect fabulous food...most of the restaurants were as or more (!) expensive than in Istanbul and not nearly as good.

It is absolutely worth the 3 hour bus ride from Selcuk though. And because there's not a whole lot here, buses to and from a variety of places (Selcuk, Cappadoccia, Istanbul, etc) are available at the many travel agencies and the airport isn't too far away if you want to make it a day trip. Definitely get there early though so you can enjoy the travertines before the crowds show up.

Next up...Hieropolis! The only ruins where I've ever seen people wandering around in bathing suits.

1 comment:

Terrence said...

This is gorgeous!