A MASTERPIECE OF NATURE
Pamukkale is undoubtedly one of the most spectacular natural landscapes in the world and also one of the most popular tourist destinations in Turkey, attracting more than 2 million visitors every year. Translated from Turkish, pamukkale means “cotton castle” and it certainly lives up to its name, the landscape really looks like a dream made of white cotton.
The mineral-rich thermal waters that have been flowing from a nearby hill for thousands of years have created a unique complex of rock formations that were declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1988. Over time, white terraces with naturally formed pools of water have developed on the approximately 200 meter high ledges that make a simply unreal and breathtaking sight to see.
Geological activity led to the formation of these structures which are embedded in the hillside and overflow with the mineral- rich spring water, forming stalactites that look like frozen waterfalls when viewed from below. The aerial view fascinates in a completely different way, with the water having different shades of blue.
Depending on how the sunlight penetrates the water surface, the water color will change from light turquoise to a dark blue thanks to the radiant white limestone. As the terraces are a natural phenomenon, they are constantly changing in shape and size over time. Travertine, a type of limestone, is formed by chemical reactions.
Thermal water with a high content of calcium bicarbonate is pushed up 300 meters under pressure and comes to the surface from one of seventeen hot springs with different temperatures. From there, the water cascades down and once it comes into contact with the colder oxygen in the air, it cools and carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide escape. What remains is a white sediment of limestone and minerals that forms the terraces.
The hot springs are not only visually spectacular, but are also said to have healing properties. Diseases such as heart disease, rheumatism, digestive, respiratory, circulatory and skin diseases can supposedly be cured using the thermal water. However, this natural phenomenon is also very delicate and its surfaces can be easily destroyed.
The terraces themselves were once open to the public, but erosion and water pollution meant they had to be closed. Visitors today are obliged to stay within the official pathways, removing their shoes as walking barefoot between the terraces has less wear and tear on the soft stone. There are man-made travertine pools filled with the same health beneficial waters available for public use.
Within the complex is the famous Cleopatra Pool, also known as the Pamukkale Antique Pool, it is said to have been a gift from Mark Antony (14 January 83 BC – 1 August 30 BC) to Egyptian Queen Cleopatra (69 BC – 10 August 30 BC).
Read the full article in Issue 19