Pamukkale with its sparkling white castle -like cascades is not only an unusual natural and historical site of Turkey, but is also unique in the world. No wonder this place is on nearly every tourists must-see list while exploring Turkey. I couldn’t wait to see these sparkling terraces for myself when I finally arrived in Pamukkale after a long overnight bus ride from Izmir. The bus ride was actually not too bad and as the bus was quite empty we got to flatten our seats and I got some sleep so I arrived ready for my hot-spring adventure. After locking up my backpack at the bus station, and unfortunately my swimming costume with it, I headed out to Pamukkale National Park.
Pamukkale, meaning “cotton castle” in Turkish, contains hot springs and dazzling white terraces of carbonate minerals left by the flowing water. These white castles are formed by limestone-laden thermal springs, creating the unbelievable formation of potholes and terraces.
There are 17 hot water springs in Pamukkale of which the ranges from 35 °C to 100 °C . The water that emerges from the springs is transported 320 metres to the head of the terraces and here deposits calcium carbonate as the water reaches the surface. These calcium deposits have created an unreal landscape, made up of mineral forests, petrified waterfalls and a series of terraced basins. Making Pamukkale a must-see fairytale destination.
The water is quite hot all year round and ideal to swim in. Unfortunately as I had safely stowed away my swimming costume for the day I only got to walk through the warm terraces. I do regret not being able to swim and enjoy these unique hot springs, but it gives me a reason to return someday.
People have bathed in these pools for thousands of years as the water of Pamukkale is famous for its health benefits. It said to be very beneficial to the eyes and skin and is said to have curing properties for illnesses such as asthma and rheumatism. It is the ideal place to soak travel weary bodies and after soaking my tired feet for a while I was ready to explore these amazing terraces.
The highest travertine terraces have 20 m high cliffs and waterfalls, and situated along on the foothills of the Cokelez Mountains. The terrace is about 200 m above the Curuksu plain and extends some 6 km between the villages of Pamukkale and Karahayit.
Access to all the terraces were not allowed and I had to follow the main pathway leading from the top of the terraces to the bottom. They say that access is prohibited in order to sustain the water flow and to maintain the colour and structure of the travertine terraces.
Semi-circular pools occur in a step-like arrangement down the upper third of the slope. I followed the pathway down through these warm pools stopping every couple of feet to admire my surroundings and to try and capture these sparkling white castles on film.