Pamukkale is one of Turkey's top attractions and a precious in the world with its cotton-look terraces. The underground water once gave life to the ancient city of Hierapolis now helps Pamukkale be one of the most important thermal centers of Turkey.
Pamukkale's terraces are made of travertine, a sedimentary rock deposited by water from the hot springs.
In this area, there are 17 hot water springs in which the temperature ranges from 35 oC to 100 oC.
The water that emerges from the spring is transported 320 metres to the head of the travertine terraces and deposits calcium carbonate on a section 60 to 70 metres long covering an expanse of 24 metres to 30 metres . When the water, supersaturated with calcium carbonate, reaches the surface, carbon dioxide de-gasses from it, and calcium carbonate is deposited. The depositing continues until the carbon dioxide in the water balances the carbon dioxide in the air.
Calcium carbonate is deposited by the water as a soft jelly, but this eventually hardens into travertine.
Deriving from springs in a cliff almost 200 m high overlooking the plain, calcite-laden waters have created at Pamukkale (Cotton Palace) an unreal landscape, made up of mineral forests, petrified waterfalls and a series of terraced basins. At the end of the 2nd century B.C. the dynasty of the Attalids, the kings of Pergamon, established the thermal spa of Hierapolis. The ruins of the baths, temples and other Greek monuments can be seen at the site.
The combination of striking natural formations and the development of a complex system of canals, bringing the thermal water to nearby villages and fields, is exceptional. The springs are the source of a hydraulic system extending 70 km northwest to Alasehir and westwards along the valley of the Menderes River.
There is a legend that floats around the white castle of Pamukkale. There was a young girl who was unmarried and no so beautiful. As no one wanted to marry her, she decided to commit suicide and she threw herself off the travertine and fell into a natural pool but did not die. Because of the water in the natural pool she turned into a very beautiful girl and caught the attention of the lord of Denizli while he was passing by. At that moment, the lord fell in love with this young and beautiful girl and they soon got married.
So, in addition to the curing effects of the water, people also believe in the beautifying power of the water. As the water is useful, this land has been a place where people visit periodically for beauty and health since the ancient times. So the reason for Pamukkale to be an attractive place is not only the natural travertine, but also the healing waters.
And, while this is just a legend, the mineral water of Pamukkale helps recovering from high blood pressure, kidney stones, stroke, rheumatism, nervous and physical exhaustion, eye and skin diseases, circulatory problems, digestive maladies, nutritional disorders and chronic disorders. Pamukkale became a spa resort today and the center of a pagan cult in antiquity.
Photo credits: Elfrock, Jaroslaw Grudzinski, Masezdromaderi, Ioana Grecu.