The Cotton Castle and beyond

Barely able to keep our eyes open by the time we reached Denizli, we were quite relieved that our arranged pick up to our hotel in Pamukkale was on time. We had chosen to stay in Denizli for the night rather than Kuşadası not only so we could get an early start in Pamukkale to beat the crowds but also to take advantage of the free lift from the bus station which most hotels/pensions offer. There is also a frequent dolmuş service from Denizli to Pamukkale but we went for the hassle free option. We’re staying at the Dört Mevsim Hotel and I couldn’t be more satisfied with the service. The staff have been nothing but helpful and usually give quite good advice and tips towards exploring the area. There are several places to stay at in Pamukkale and usually you can just turn up on the day and find yourself a bed somewhere without booking in advance.

Despite our plan of an early start, getting out of bed was harder than we expected. After breakfast, the hotel manager dropped us by the southern gate of Hierapolis where we started our day visiting the ancient site, recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and finishing down in the travertines and the antique pool.

At the southern entrance of Hierapolis
At the southern entrance of Hierapolis

The ruins of Hierapolis represent an era where Greeks, Romans, Jews and Christians coexisted. Well maintained with the pavements and wooden bridge walkways, it’s quite easy to visit on foot without overtiring yourself. I did end up in situations where I had to be helped down by passing tourists because I got a tit bit too adventurous.

By the looks of it, most people tend to skip visiting the site in favour of the pools further down but it does offer some spectacular sights for those who do decide to go explore the ruins. It is also where the Martyrium of St Phillip, the apostle of Jesus, is believed to be found.

The Roman theatre, able to seat over 12,000 spectators.
The Roman theatre, able to seat over 12,000 spectators.
Frontinus Street, where some of the original  columns and pavings are mostly intact
Frontinus Street, where some of the original columns and pavings are mostly intact

Like everyone, we ended up stripping down to our swimming suits at the terrace pools for a dip. There are also plenty of dry sections to walk on if you don’t want to get too wet – we were armed and prepared for it!

Cooling off in the terrace pools, just divine!
Cooling off in the terrace pools, just divine!

We then headed to the Antique Pool where Cleopatra is said to have swum. The Antique Pool is was shaped by an earthquake and even now the original marble structures that fell in back there can be used to lounge against as the thermal waters work their magic.

Tourists enjoying the thermal waters of the Cleopatra Pool
Tourists enjoying the thermal waters of the Cleopatra Pool

After some hours in the pool, we had a go at Doctor fish therapy – it was…. interesting and ticklish.

Grossly getting our dead skin eaten by doctor fish
Grossly getting our dead skin eaten by doctor fish

It started raining when we were leaving so instead of walking back to get the bus to go to Laodicea for more exploring, we thought we would just go back to the hotel and rest a bit. That ended up complicating things even more. We took the shuttle bus from the antique pool to one of the exits which so happened to be the one furthest from where we were staying, near Karayıt, another village. We hitchhiked to the village centre where we randomly ended up having Korean ramyun.

We got another dolmuş back to our hotel where we finally got out of our wet clothes (the smarty pants that we are forgot to bring clean clothes to change into). After some well deserved tea and chocolate, we headed out to ‘town’ which translates into three streets only. If not for Hierapolis and the travertines, the ‘town’ might not have existed at all. We were recommended a shop for souvenirs, from which I got myself a beach towel made out of bamboo and postcards.

We went up to Pamukkale again, this time from the northern entrance which is at the base of the terraced mountains where the travertines start. After the rain, the temperature had gone down a bit so the water trickling down the hills were colder than that we experienced earlier during the day but it definitely offered a different view from down there: the white hills against the greenery and the blue sky. It would have been a perfect sunset for us if not for the naughty clouds.

Down in the travertines
Down in the travertines

I waved N. goodbye after dinner which we thought was a bit pricey even with the 10% discount we managed to get (ah the joys of being able to speak Turkish). Holidays were over for her but I had one more day which I spent  the less known but as amazing ruins of Aphrodisias and Laodicea.

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7 thoughts on “The Cotton Castle and beyond”

      1. I did! It’s so good, I’d come again as the weather was too hot to take in all the sights and places of interest on the site. Most of the Turks I know have never been there, which is pretty typical really, as I’ve always found that when you live in a country you can sometimes miss the touristy stuff of interest. When I was looking at Cotton Castles it struck me again — Turkey has had so many civilizations!

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