Breath-taking Natural Wonders: Natural Hot Travertine pools of Pamukkale, Turkey


This is fourth in the series.  Continuing with the Breath-taking Natural Wonders series, we now go to hot springs of Pamukkale, Turkey.  This is a place where I would love to go with my wife, Archana.

Pamukkale (pah-MOOK-kah-leh) in Turkey is natural mineral-bath spa with hot calcium laden waters cascading down slopes.  The unique natural travertines pools of exquisite beauty are 18 km (11 miles) north of Denizli, in Turkey’s Inner Aegean region, in the River Menderes valley.  When the water cools down it forms hard white calcium travertine walls on the pools.  Pamukkale means Cotton Fortress / Castle.  On the top of the hill is the ancient Greco-Roman and Byzantine city of Hierapolis.

In this area, there are 17 hot water springs in which the temperature ranges from 35 °C (95 °F) to 100 °C (212 °F).  The whole process of how the lovely travertine terraces are formed here is amazing.

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.

The pools  can be accessed via a toll-booth.  Because of the strong pollution control regulations visitors are required to remove their shoes in order to walk on them (so bring something to put your shoes in!), so the travertines stay white as ever.  In winters – as the cold reezing water flows down – the task of walking up becomes ever so tough.  You can alternatively take a taxi to the top of the hill and enter from the side of Hierapolis, but you miss out on experiencing the travertine terrace climb.

In the city above the pools, Hierapolis there is a large (12,000-seat) Roman amphitheater which lies just above the travertines.  So you can Swim with roman ruins in a large natural swimming pool located just past the topmost travertines.

Karahayit is a red spring that is just 5 minutes from Pamukkale.   It has little natural water spring set right in the middle of the mud pools area. The red colour is due to the iron content of the water. The iron enriched water runs into the mud pools around it, adding to their curative properties.  One can also go to Kaklik caves, about 30 minutes from Pamukkale.  These are like a small version of Pamukkale, but in an underground cave.  You can find men’s and women’s changing rooms, toilets, souvenir shops, a snacks-and-drinks shop, and plenty of tables and chairs set in sun and shade for those who wish not to swim, only to watch. (You need not pay admission if you only sit, and don’t swim.).  Towels are not provided, so bring your own.  The Adult admission fee is TL32 while the kid’s fee (0 to 12 yrs) is TL12.

Image sources: Esther Lee, Esther Lee2, Esther Lee3, Esther Lee4, Esther Lee (Sunset), Esther Lee5, Frank Kovalchek, Inspbylife, Zolakoma, LWYang, Chris Parfitt, LWYang2, Chrisobayda, Paul Downey (Sunset).

Sunset at Pamukkale
Red Spring in Karahyit
Red Spring in Karahyit
Roman Amphitheater
Roman Amphitheater

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