Pamukkale is a sure fire winner as a destination for any holiday. Those planning to stay at the various thermal hotels in the Karahayıt district, a holiday for the spirit as well as the body, will have already made up their minds. However, if you are one of those not wanting to stay in a hotel during your holidays there is so much to do and so many places to visit. For example, it would be good to go to Denizli by train for a change. The Pamukkale Express leaves Istanbul every night and arrives in Denizli in the morning. Sleeper compartments are not really that expensive at all. This would surely be a different and comfortable way to get to Pamukkale.
Denizli: Denizli is an industrial city, with predominantly textile plants, workshops, and industrial facilities. On the weekends, those wanting a breath of fresh air flock to the picnic grounds around the city. Some of these are Vali Çeşmesi on the Acıpayam road; Gökpınar, Hisar Değirmenleri and Kocapınar in Honas just to name a few. The closest ancient settlement to Denizli is Laodikeia; its theatre can be reached by detouring left after five kilometres along the Denizli-Pamukkale road. The structure in best condition is the fountain decorated with ornaments and statues. Others remains include an Ionic style temple, gymnasium, and stadium. Even though they may not be in top condition they should be seen. Pamukkale-Hierapolis:
This is a wonder of nature. Hot calcium-laden mineral waters created this natural architectural masterpiece. As the hot water cooled, the calcium precipitated and clung to the cliffs, creating snow-white travertines. This magnificent site is just 19 kilometres from Denizli. The so called tourism development that led to the pollution of this wonder of nature, where the snow white travertines were starting to turn grey, was stopped by the authorities just a few years ago. Walking in the little pools on the travertines is now prohibited. That is all good and fine but what about letting tourists who have come here from afar enjoy a limited area of the relaxing, health providing, soothing and beautifying thermal waters. Humans had discovered this beautiful piece of nature thousands of years ago and set up the ancient city of Hierapolis nearby. A great civilisation had originated out of this settlement. Despite the damage of many years the ruins of Hierapolis, scattered along the top of the ridge at Pamukkale, are still a remarkable sight in their magnificent state as it was thousands of years ago. Before or after touring the city it is well worthwhile to visit the museum of Pamukkale. This building was also the baths of the ancient city. The pathway, lined with statues, had shops on its both sides, the theatre is still in good condition and there is a church dedicated to St Philip, one of Jesus’ apostles. At the end of the pathway is the Arch of Domitian. There are remains of baths and a two kilometre long necropolis.
Karahayıt: This location is five kilometres out of Pamukkale. The thermal waters of the village of Karahayıt have the same properties as those at Pamukkale and the high quality thermal hotels of the region are all here. The thermal water here differs from Pamukkale’s in that its colour is like that of roof tiles and leaves red marks where it flows.
Aphrodisias: This is the ancient settlement on which Turkish archaeologist Kenan Erim spent his lifetime on excavations and restorations. Erim is also buried here. This is an extraordinary ancient city not to be missed. When getting here follow the directions for Kuyucak when coming here via the Denizli road, it is 37 kilometres off the main road. It is also possible to come here via the Denizli-Muğla road. At the entrance to the ruins there is a museum, which should be visited either before or after seeing the settlement. There is a 10,000 seat theatre, the Baths of Hadrian near the square, the gymnasium and a Byzantine church with two squares to the south. There are also bath structures dedicated to Hadrian and Aphrodite, an odeon near the agora, and the still standing and magnificent 14-column Temple of Aphrodite. To the north what could be described as the most beautiful remains of the area is the Tetra pylon monumental entrance gate and the 362×59 metre, 30,000 seat stadium that could be considered as one of the best to be found in any of the Anatolian ancient cities.