Pamukkale, Turkey

Pamukkale is a small town in southwestern Turkey, formerly called Hierapolis. The town gained worldwide fame for its spectacular snow-white limestone terraces and ancient ruins.

Pamukkale actually means Cotton Fortress and today refers to a small town in southwestern Turkey that used to be called Hierapolis. The town gained worldwide fame for its spectacular snow-white limestone terraces. This fascinating natural phenomenon is one of our top 10 sights in Turkey.


PICTURES: Pamukkale

Photo gallery: Pamukkale

Hierapolis was actually founded at the end of the 2nd century by King Eumenes II as a spa and later developed into a trans-shipment centre for wool. Even then, people made pilgrimages to the mineral-rich pools and bathed in the hot springs of Mother Earth. Marble capitals and ruins of the former spring house bear witness to the former importance of Hierapolis.

Visit Pamukkale

The limestone terraces of Pamukkale in southwest Turkey are embedded in a dreamlike landscape - © eleana / Shutterstock
© eleana / Shutterstock

When you see the terraced pools of Pamukkale for the first time, you feel transported to a bizarre world. Turquoise water shimmers in snow-white pools, overflows and forms surreal limestone formations, petrified forests and small lakes and streams.

Under the sun, the basins glued to the slope like swallows' nests shine even more surreally and it is hard to believe that man did not have a hand in shaping these fantastic limestone formations. Especially at sunset, an unforgettable sight!

The seemingly unreal natural wonder has been named the region's landmark and is a must-see for every Turkey holidaymaker as one of the top 10 sights in Turkey!

Other sights in Pamukkale

The ancient amphitheatre of Hierapolis, today better known as Pamukkale, is the best preserved amphitheatre in Turkey - © Havoc / Shutterstock
© Havoc / Shutterstock

It is not only the picturesque water basins that act as a tourist magnet. Pamukkale is also home to Turkey 's best-preserved amphitheatre with a total of 45 rows of seats, as well as a stage house, a cathedral and smaller churches.

In addition, you can visit the remains of two cemeteries with a total of over 1,000 burial structures, from simple sarcophagi to temples. Among others, the tomb of the apostle Philip is said to be located here.


Almost unique in the world: similarly magnificent limestone terraces can only be found in the American Yellowstone National Park at the Mammoth Hot Springs, in the Hungarian Eger, or in the Chinese Huanglong Valley after the "Pink and White Terraces" in New Zealand were destroyed by a volcanic eruption.

Pamukkale saved from pollution

The water in the snow-white basins of Pamukkale has solidified waterfalls and streams over time, Turkey - © Alaettin YILDIRIM / Shutterstock
© Alaettin YILDIRIM / Shutterstock

The town of Pamukkale and its attractions were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988. This led to a rethink by the tourism authorities when UNESCO threatened to remove Pamukkale from the list in the 1990s because the limestone terraces were visibly polluted by mass tourism and hotel wastewater.

The rescue measures led to the demolition of all hotels and their relocation to the town of Pamukkale below the basins. The measures worked and Pamukkale today shines in its old splendour.