If one part of Turkey that disappointed me, it would be Pamukkale. I read many other travelers’ disappointment on Pamukkale, so I contemplated long and hard whether I should visit or skip. Since it is on the way from Cappadocia to Ephesus, I decided to drop by for the day. Well, yes, I felt ripped off in the end. But it is no fault of overhyped tourism advertising or expecting to see beautiful travertines and expecting stunning view.
No, my sadness came from a different source; how unsustainable tourism had destroyed the once-probably-beautiful place. I can’t even tell what ‘Sustainable Tourism’ means but tourism was booming and many resorts were opened to attract the tourists with thermal water using the water source that provides water and nutrients for the travertines which Pamukkale is famous for, affectively starving them off the water and calcium that they need to maintain their water color. When I was there, the travertines were nothing more than grayish layers of calcium on the slope of the hill with little to no water. I was told that they are healthier than a few years ago and should get better as time goes on since the government has stepped in. Well, that’s yet to be seen.
Although I was a bit disappointed by the cotton palace (Pamukkale), the Hierapolis, a UNESCO World Heritage site, looks really amazing. I really liked the place because it was a lot less crowded than Ephesus and you get to explore without being troubled by the crowd. The amphitheater is amazingly well-preserved and you have a great view of the entire area and the travertines of Pamukkale.
If you manage to spend some time to roam around the now-archaeological museum (ancient time, Hierapolis), it is actually a pretty nice place with many beautiful details to see. The place won’t awe you with grandiosity because the amphitheater is the only large standing building around but there are ruins, stoned paths and walls overgrowth with grass that makes up for the lack of large monuments. I was told that little excavation works has been done here since all the efforts has been focused Ephesus but with time, hopefully more will be unearthed and restored.
I don’t recommend seeing this place unless you happen to be passing it by on your way between Cappadocia and Ephesus and you can spend a day out of your trip. Otherwise, just skip this place. You will be seeing more ruins in Ephesus anyway. But then, many people that I met during my trip in Turkey really liked this place, so maybe there is more to it than meets the eyes.