Coordinates: 37°55′26″N 29°07′24″E / 37.92389°N 29.12333°E / 37.92389; 29.12333
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UNESCO World Heritage Site
Panoramic view of travertine
Official nameHierapolis-Pamukkale
LocationDenizli Province, Turkey
CriteriaCultural and Natural: (iii)(iv)(vii)
Inscription1988 (12th Session)
Area1,077 ha (4.16 sq mi)
Coordinates37°55′26″N 29°07′24″E / 37.92389°N 29.12333°E / 37.92389; 29.12333
Pamukkale is located in Turkey
Location of Pamukkale in Turkey

Pamukkale, (Turkish pronunciation: [pamʊk̚'kɑlɛ]) meaning "cotton castle" in Turkish, is a natural site in Denizli Province in southwestern Turkey. The area is famous for a carbonate mineral left by the flowing of thermal spring water.[1][2] It is located in Turkey's Inner Aegean region, in the River Menderes valley, which has a temperate climate for most of the year.

The ancient Greek city of Hierapolis was built on top of the travertine formation which is in total about 2,700 metres (8,860 ft) long, 600 m (1,970 ft) wide and 160 m (525 ft) high. It can be seen from the hills on the opposite side of the valley in the town of Denizli, 20 km away. This area has been drawing visitors to its thermal springs since the time of classical antiquity.[1] The Turkish name refers to the surface of the shimmering, snow-white limestone, shaped over millennia by calcite-rich springs.[2] Dripping slowly down the mountainside, mineral-rich waters collect in and cascade down the mineral terraces, into pools below.

Panoramic view of travertine terraces at Pamukkale
Pamukkale sinter terraces

It was added as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988 along with Hierapolis.


Travertine terrace formations

Pamukkale's terraces are made of travertine, a sedimentary rock deposited by mineral water from the hot springs.[1] In this area, there are 17 hot springs with temperatures ranging from 35 °C (95 °F) to 100 °C (212 °F). The water that emerges from the spring is transported 320 metres (1,050 ft) to the head of the travertine terraces and deposits calcium carbonate on a section 60 to 70 metres (200 to 230 ft) long covering an expanse of 24 metres (79 ft) to 30 metres (98 ft). When the water, supersaturated with calcium carbonate, reaches the surface, carbon dioxide de-gasses from it, and calcium carbonate is deposited. Calcium carbonate is deposited by the water as a soft gel which eventually crystallizes into travertine.

White Terraces (natural travertine formations and hot pools) in Pamukkale


Travertine terraces at a hot spring at Pamukkale

There are only a few historical facts known about the origin of the city. No traces of the presence of Hittites or Persians have been found. The Phrygians built a temple, probably in the first half of the 7th century BC. This temple, originally used by the citizens of the nearby town of Laodicea, would later form the centre of Hierapolis.

Colonnaded street in Laodicea on the Lycus.
Archaeological site of Hierapolis in Pamukkale, Turkey. The photo shows the Frontinus (or Domitian) Gate at Frontinus Street.
Pools inside the archeological site

Hierapolis was founded as a thermal spa early in the 2nd century BC within the sphere of the Seleucid Empire. Antiochus the Great sent 2,000 Jewish families to Lydia and Phrygia from Babylon and Mesopotamia, later joined by more from Judea. The Jewish congregation grew in Hierapolis and has been estimated as high as 50,000 in 62 BC.[3] Hierapolis became a healing centre where doctors used the thermal springs as a treatment for their patients. The city began minting bronze coins in the 2nd century BC. These coins give the name Hieropolis. It remains unclear whether this name referred to the original temple (ἱερόν, hieron) or honoured Hiera, the wife of Telephus, son of Heracles and the Mysian princess Auge. This name eventually changed into Hierapolis ("holy city").[4] In 133 BC, when Attalus III died, he bequeathed his kingdom to Rome. Hierapolis thus became part of the Roman province of Asia. In AD 17, during the rule of Emperor Tiberius, a major earthquake destroyed the city.

Through the influence of the Christian Apostle Paul, a church was founded here while he was at Ephesus.[5] The Christian Apostle Philip spent the last years of his life here.[6] The town's Martyrium was alleged to have been built upon the spot where Philip was crucified in AD 80. His daughters were also said to have acted as prophetesses in the region.[7][8] During the 4th century, the Christians filled Pluto's Gate (a ploutonion) with stones, suggesting that Christianity had become the dominant religion and had begun displacing other faiths in the area. Originally a see of Phrygia Pacatiana,[9] the Byzantine Emperor Justinian raised the bishop of Hierapolis to the rank of metropolitan in 531. The Roman baths were transformed to a Christian basilica. During the Byzantine period, the city continued to flourish and also remained an important centre for Christianity.


The museum contains historical artifacts from Hierapolis, as well as those from Laodiceia, Colossae, Tripolis, Attuda and other towns of the Lycos (Çürüksu) valley. The museum also has a section devoted to artifacts found at Beycesultan Hüyük that includes examples of Bronze Age craft. Artifacts from the Caria, Pisidia and Lydia regions are also on display. The museum's exhibition space consists of three closed areas[clarification needed] of the Hierapolis Bath and the open areas in the eastern side which are known to have been used as the library and gymnasium. The artifacts in open exhibition space are mostly marble and stone.

World Heritage Site[edit]

The Theatre of Hierapolis

Pamukkale is recognized as a World Heritage Site together with Hierapolis. Hierapolis-Pamukkale was made a World Heritage Site in 1988.[2] It is a tourist attraction because of this status and its natural beauty.

Sister cities[edit]

The city of Pamukkale has two sister cities:

Similar places[edit]

These locations are also well known for their travertine formations:


  1. ^ a b c Scheffel, Richard L.; Wernet, Susan J., eds. (1980). Natural Wonders of the World. United States of America: Reader's Digest Association, Inc. p. 286. ISBN 978-0-89577-087-5.
  2. ^ a b c "Hierapolis-Pamukkale World Heritage Site". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Retrieved 2007-06-23.
  3. ^ "Jewish Congregation in Hierapolis".
  4. ^ Kevin M. Miller (July 1985). "Apollo Lairbenos". Numen. 32 (1): 46–70. doi:10.1163/156852785X00157. JSTOR 3269962.
  5. ^ Colossians 4:13.
  6. ^ Papias. Early Christian Writings Archived 2015-09-24 at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ "NPNF2-01. Eusebius Pamphilius: Church History, Life of Constantine, Oration in Praise of Constantine - Christian Classics Ethereal Library". Archived from the original on 4 May 2018. Retrieved 4 May 2018.
  8. ^ "NPNF2-01. Eusebius Pamphilius: Church History, Life of Constantine, Oration in Praise of Constantine - Christian Classics Ethereal Library". Archived from the original on 14 October 2017. Retrieved 4 May 2018.
  9. ^ RAMSAY, Cities and Bishoprics of Phrygia (Oxford, 1895–1897)
  10. ^ Bunn, Rex; Nolden, Sascha (2017-06-07). "Forensic cartography with Hochstetter's 1859 Pink and White Terraces survey: Te Otukapuarangi and Te Tarata". Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand. 48: 39–56. doi:10.1080/03036758.2017.1329748. ISSN 0303-6758. S2CID 134907436.
  11. ^ Bunn and Nolden, Rex and Sascha (December 2016). "Te Tarata and Te Otukapuarangi: Reverse engineering Hochstetter's Lake Rotomahana Survey to map the Pink and White Terrace locations". Journal of New Zealand Studies. NS23: 37–53.
  12. ^ Hasnain I, Iqra A. "Hierve el Agua | A flowing Cascade". NaturesRim. Retrieved 2020-07-21.

Further reading[edit]

Turkey's mysterious portal to the underworld - BBC

External links[edit]