Exploring the ruins of Hierapolis on a hot day might make you tired. This ancient settlement is really large and after a few hours of walking and climbing, I dreamed only about a refreshing bath somewhere … anywhere … Luckily, the choice of aqua-pools here, in the village of Pamukkale, is huge.
First of all, you can enjoy the man-made Pamukkale pools, which are pleasant to look at, but not the best for your skin. There is a lot of calcium in the water, that makes your skin dry, the same as the Sahara desert.
Second, if you want to enjoy a relaxing swim amidst Roman ruins, in the famous Hierapolis hot springs, the Antique Pool is the perfect place for you. It is a spa complex with a thermal pool, and open to the public all year.
The pool is surrounded by lush greenery and features marble columns, capitals and plinths that are believed to have fallen from the nearby Temple of Apollo during an earthquake, making this a sacred pool. Mineral-rich, sweet, sparkling freshwater is constantly pumped in and the water feels warm on the skin. The water temp. in the thermal pool is never lower than 36 C°.
But is this pool actually ancient? I have my doubts. To make this story a legend, let me tell you that Cleopatra is said to have swum, in an earlier version of the pool here. However, Cleopatra was never in this area, not even close. No one quite knows how the legend started, but it is simply a legend. Cleopatra only set foot in Asia minor once and it was nowhere near Pamukkale. However, ancient or not, the prices are definitely the 21st century. To swim here, you need to pay a fee. Believe me, not a small one. However, the pool is well worth a visit and the fee.
Anyway, I must admit that this pool looks idyllic and inviting. But … yes and now comes my typical ”but”. You may sit in the pool as long as you want, or at least until the security will say that they are closing, but you sit with a gazillion other people. There is no such thing as personal space here. You feel like a sardine in a tin. They say that drinking water from this pool has healing properties, but can you imagine taking even a sip of water where a gazillion people had whatever….? Yuck!
If you do not wish to swim there, you can still visit the spa resort for free and even enjoy a drink and snack. I bought the best juice ever and have become a pomegranate juice addict.
Finally, if you like pools with chlorinated water, the village of Pamukkale has something also. Pamukkale Natural Park offers visitors 3 pools to enjoy good swimming in hot weather. There is a pool for kids as well as one for adults that includes a jacuzzi. The largest pool is intended for couples and women, while the smaller one is only for boys.
I felt a bit of pity for all the people who came with tours as they didn’t have time to enjoy any of the pools. Hierapolis-Pamukkale is a large site. You can not really see it, in just a few hours provided by one-day tours. I was lucky to stay for three days and experienced all the benefits the place has to offer.
If I could offer just one piece of advice for anyone wishing to travel here, come for at least 2 days. Don’t be tempted by tours provided by hotels, unless you want to spend more time on the bus, then at the location itself.