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An eclectic country with diversity in landscapes, art, culture, and culinary experience, Turkey has fascinated people all over the world. While a huge chunk of tourists flocks to Istanbul primarily, there are destinations less explored and known. Famous places such as the Blue Mosque or Hagia Sophia, hot air balloon trips in Cappadocia, the Grand Bazaar, The Temple Of Artemis, or the Ephesus ancient ruins have always been highlighted, but Turkey rolls beyond that.

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Turkey’s Cotton Castle

The spectacular white calcite travertine (terraces), Pamukkale formed as a natural wonder with calcium-rich mineral springs seems like cotton candy intersected with blue springs. Located in the Aegean region of southwestern Turkey, these hot springs are known to have healing properties. As the ancient Greeks were well aware of this, they built Hierapolis, once a Roman and Byzantine city just above the travertine. As this calcium-rich water flows downhill, traces of calcium carbonate are left behind, which morph into limestone eventually. The limestone deposits over the years formed snow-white terraces accumulating hot springs and culminating in a phenomenal natural wonder. The sacred pools are estimated as a repercussion of earthquakes and are believed magical in the contemporary era.

How To Reach The Castle

The city near Pamukkale is Denizli, and one can take a minibus to Pamukkale later. A bus from Istanbul to Denizli takes about 8-9 hours, and a rented car around 6 hours. The nearest airport is Cardak, and there are shuttle services from the airport to Denizli. The distance between Denizli is 3.3 km overall.

Visit This Gate To Hell

Known as “PLuto’s Gate” or “Gate To Hell,” historians believe that this was an ancient sacred site dedicated to the Roman God Of the Underworld, Pluto. This small cave is traced in the Phrygian city Hierapolis, which is present-day Pamukkale and is full of misty and dense vapor where one can barely see the ground. Today’s Greco-Roman mythologists agree that the gate is perilous as an animal passing inside itself meets instant death. It is also believed that the white travertine of Pamukkale springs has its origin in this cave. Back then, people could just be at the entrance of the steps while the priests performed sacrifices and rituals.

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Walk Amidst The Carved Heads

Mount Nemrut, a mountain in southeastern Turkey, is popular for the large number of statues carved around it and is believed to be a royal tomb as well. In 62 BC, King Antiochus started the construction of a huge religious sanctuary where people could come and pray to him. The king labeled himself as “Mount Nemrut,” i.e., the dwelling place of all gods. In this endeavor to gather all the gods, a row of five limestone statues was erected along with animal statues. The stone statues are supposed to celebrate the glory of King Antiochus as well as worship other gods such as Zeus, Hercules, Apollo, and so on. The technology used to build the structures was way beyond time as the architecture displays the perfection of the Hellenistic era. In 1987, the site was declared a UNESCO heritage site and was visited often from April to October.

How To Reach

Located in the Toros mountain range, Mount Nemrut can be reached via the town Adiyaman. The distance between them is 73.4 km. People usually reach this place by car, bus, or helicopter from Adiyaman province. There are also tours available from Malatya or Kakhta to Mount Nemrut. Also, direct flights are available from Istanbul or Ankara to Mount Nemrut.

Heal With Mud Bath Therapy

Dunking your whole head in the mud! This sounds crazy, right? Mud Baths have existed for decades and are considered an amazing way to detox oneself. The mud and volcanic ash are believed to be radioactive and contain minerals good for health. Mud baths are originally natural thermal springs that have a high concentration of sulfur, the prime ingredient of mud treatments. The Spa and Wellness industry is touting this treatment to combat aging effectively and promote healthy living.

Places To Find Mud Bath In Turkey

“Daylan Mud Bath” is a popular destination which is in the Mugla province of Turkey. In contrast, Mud Bath On The lakeside of Koycegiz not only involves a mud bath but getting around Iztuzu beach, ruins of Caunos, and the Lycian rock tombs. Another less popular destination is “Afyon Mud Baths” and a remote area of Karahayit near Pamukkale. The latter can be used for free, but the magnificence is way less compared to others. The cost of the mud bath tour in Daylan is around 20 Lira ($10) which includes a boat ride to the lake, a one-hour mud bath, and $4 extra for the sulfur pools.

Related: Dos & Don'ts Of Visiting Turkey For The First Time

Stay In Nomadic Tents

Have a real essence of ancient Turkish culture in the village of Yuvacali, a traditional Kurdish village where home stays in the form of nomadic tents are provided. Kurdish are cattle herders. Yuvacali village has been prominent for homestays. These homestays' main purpose is to bring ancient Turkish back into the modern world. One can be on the farm, milk the cattle, bake bread like locals and have the essence of rustic life. Nomad Tours Turkey is one organization to arrange such homestays. While being here, one can visit Mount Nemrut, drive up to Siverek or make a day trip to Sanliurfa, which has the cave in which Prophet Ibrahim is believed to be born.

How To Reach Yuvacali

Yuvacali is quite a remote destination. Buses heading to Diyarbakir from Sanliurfa pass through Hilvan can be arranged to be picked up. The closest airport is Uşak Airport, at a distance of 96kms away from Yuvacali.

Experience One Of The World's Biggest Mysteries

This archeological site in Turkey is believed to be 6500 years older than Stonehenge and 7000 years older than the oldest of the pyramids. The mind-boggling fact about Göbekli Tepe is that it represents megalithic structures built around 12,000 ago. Demonstrating the ingenuity of the people during the Neolithic era and the structure remains protected from weathering throughout the centuries. Göbekli Tepe exudes exemplary engineering, manpower, and innovative architecture. It also gives a glimpse of the life of the people back then.

How To Reach Here

When planning one's trip to Göbekli Tepe, plan to spend at least two days in Urfa. The musts to see and do here include visiting Göbekli Tepe and the Archeological Museum in the city. With 12 km outside the ancient city of Urfa (officially named Sanliurfa), two days in Urfa are required. This region is full of things to see and do. A couple of hours out of the city is another ancient site, Karahan Tebe, which is perhaps even older than Göbekli Tepe. But that is still currently being excavated.