Travel to Pamukkale in Turkey

Discover the medieval city center of Pamukkale

In the south-western parts of Turkey in the Denizli Province you will find the incredible natural phenomenon known as Pamukkale. The name is Turkish for 'cotton castle' and when one looks at this unusual collection of limestone rimmed hot pools rising higher and higher from the valley it is easy to understand why this name was chosen. In total the 'castle' is about 2700 meters long and 160m high and it was once the cornerstone of the ancient city of Hierapolis.

The formation is the result of a a mixture of chalk, hydrogen carbonate and calcium which have been masterfully sculpted by numerous earthquakes in the past. Ironically, it was these earthquakes which lead to the eventual disappearance of the once largely successful city of Heirapolis. The city, which was largely built up as a sort of ancient spa complex, was destroyed twice before finally being abandoned. The hot springs where in use as early as 2 BC and have enjoyed a long history as a source of healing and health. Today the sight is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and there are a number of archeologists working the area in an effort to uncover what remains of the ancient city.

Unfortunately Pamukkale suffered a large amount of abuse during the late 20th century when it was commercialized as one of Turkey's hot spots. Waste water from the hotels was poured into the springs turning them brown while some bathers used soap and shampoo, further polluting the water. Hotel monstrosities and heavy roads where built over the remains of Heliopolis further decimating the site. By the time UNESCO turned its attention to Pamukkale, the place was quickly loosing its attraction. UNESCO quickly made efforts to clean up the mess left behind and so far these efforts have reaped rich rewards. Unfortunately some of the hot spring pools are still empty as a result of this but now visitors may enjoy the pools in a much cleaner state. Pamukkale is really a one of a kind place and, while there are a few other sites in the world which feature similar geothermal pools, only this ancient site can be called the 'cotton castle'.


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