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  • Writer's pictureKristin

Ancient Hierapolis & Pamukkale - 'Cotton Castle'

Today we ticked off one of the places that I had on my bucket list for Turkey - Pamukkale. We took the short 30 minute drive from Denizli to Pamukkale and got there around 9:45 in the morning. The GPS directed us to one lot but it looked like it was for Pamukkale and not Hierapolis. Plus it was full of tour buses, so we turned around and found another entrance. However, in hindsight we should have stayed at the initial parking lot - South Gate - because the North Gate entrance was bit of a far walk from the main sights.

In our research leading up to the visit, we were a little confused on how Hierapolis & Pamukkale related to one another, but they are basically the same site. You pay entrance to get into both of them and they are right next to one another. Entrance fee was 35 TL (free for kids). They had a shuttle that took you from the north entrance to the main area, but with the kids it was easier for Alex to head back in the middle of the day to grab the car and re-position it to the south parking lot. The only unfortunate thing is that he had to pay admission again to get back into the park.

Ancient Site of Hierapolis

On our walk we checked out many of the ruins of Hierapolis - including a few different city gates that were built at various ruling times - I.e. Byzantine, Roman Empire, Hellenistic, etc.

Hierapolis is actually referenced in the Bible in Paul’s book of the Colossians. One of the 12 Apostles, Phillip, was martyred here after he was stoned to death around 70 AD. Clara and I also made the trek up to St. Phillip’s church and grave, as the church was built with Phillip’s tomb in the middle of it.

One of the more amazing parts of the ancient holy city was the Roman theatre, which was built after an earthquake in 60 AD. The theatre was still in very good shape and you could see the amazing stage at the front decorated in all the Roman ornate, and almost all the seats were in tack.

With kids it took a decent amount of time to explore, as there is no relief from the sun. As a result, we had to take breaks and break-up the visit by going for some lunch. While exploring Hierapolis, we also came across the first North Americans we have seen since being in Turkey almost 2 weeks now. We were amazed that we haven’t come upon or overheard any other North Americans - so far it seems to be a strong contingent of the tourists being from England, other parts of Turkey and Russia. [We were mainly in Southern Turkey at this point of our trip, but as we started to make our way northward and into Cappadocia, we came across many more North Americans.]

Antique Pool of Hierapolis

After lunch and checking out the Theatre, we spent the remainder of our day at the Antique Pool of Hierapolis and Pamukkale. This pool is fed by the same hot springs that feed into the Pamukkale travertine pools. It was also the same waters in which Celopatra, Queen of Egypt, once swam. Although it is part of the Hierapolis/Pamukkale site, you have to pay an additional entrance fee to go in these pools. It was 50 TL per adult (this was higher than most things we had read) and free for kids under 6; however, we still had to get a ‘free’ ticket for them to enter the pool.

In the Antique Pool you are basically swimming in a Roman Ruin, as there are fallen columns and other artifacts in the pool. It looks cool from the top, but you definitely have to watch your step while in the water! The water is bath tub water warm and the kids had fun gathering pebbles from the floor of a raised area of the pool and tossing them back in the water. Clara even made a Turkish friend with a young man who would gather the pebbles and bring them to her to inspect. :-)


After some time in the pool, we walked over to the white travertine pools of Pamukkale, in Turkish it literally means “Cotton Castle.” These travertine formations are built up over many years from the limestone deposited by the many hot springs in the area. We had tried to go in earlier in the day with the kids, but they didn’t have their swimming suits on at the time. But with their swimming suits on they were free to explore and play in the water as they wished. The Travertine terraces were much larger than what I expected - they basically covered a whole hillside - but you are only able to walk on a portion of them, which was up by the main area/Antique Pools. You can only walk on them with bare feet as well, in order to preserve them. It is a bit hard on the feet, but certain areas are slick so you have to watch your step. It was really quite amazing scenery and the kids thought it was a blast!

We were definitely in the minority of those who drove to see Hierapolis/Pamukkale - a majority of the people came on tour day trips from the coast, but they have a 3-4 hour drive each way! We enjoyed being able to take our time and not have to drive 6-8 hours in 1-day with the kids.

Dinner in Denizli - Turkey has the most AMAZING restaurants for Kids

For dinner we drove back to Denizli and ate at a restaurant across the street - Arsafak, which is also attached to a grocery store. This was the second restaurant that we had eaten at that had a playground as part of it! This particular one was inside the building - so we just grabbed a table next to it and the kids played while we waited for our food. This small convenience was LOVED by ALL!

The restaurant served a variety of meat kebabs so we ordered a variety of them, along with a salad and some potato wedges. We even had dessert - baklava! It was all very good - and best part, it was locally priced. Only about 100 TL ($20 CDN) for all that food. Earlier in the day at the tourist site, they were just selling hamburger and fries for almost 70 TL!!



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