Pamukkale, 'The Cotton Fortress', is a creation of calcium carbonate, or travertine, deposits from hot springs. All but one of the spas have been removed in order to protect the World Heritage Site.
The spectacular natural site is a fairyland of dazzling white, petrified castles, thought to be the result of over 20,000 years of constant thermal activity and calcification. Thermal spring waters, laden with calcareous salts, run off the plateau's edge, creating an extraordinary formation of brilliant white stalactites, cataracts and basins. The temperature of the spring water is 35ºC, and it has been used for its therapeutic powers since Roman times.
Tectonic movements in the fault depression of the Menderes River basin created the emergence of many very hot springs. The large mineral content, particularly chalk, resulted in the natural wonder of Pamukkale.
In the inner Aegean region, Pamukkale enjoys a temperate climate over most of the year, conditions that make it an ideal tourist resort. Each year three million people arrive to take in the waters and soak up the history.
Until around 50 years ago, Pamukkale was a place travellers happened upon, where they could find peace and tranquillity beside the sacred spring that lies exposed amongst ancient columns. Tombs lie scattered over the countryside to the west towards the surrounding hills.
From the edge of every terrace and every step you hear the waters of the hot springs splashing down the slopes, the only thing in their way being clumps of oleanders. It flows over the slopes into the pool, the small basins surrounding them and finally into the fields below. The terraces are over 100 metres tall, composed of layers of accumulated limestone sediment.
On the hill above Pamukkale are the ruins of Hierapolis. Founded in 190 BC, it reached the height of its development as a Roman thermal bath centre. The baths have become a museum, with a collection of bronzes, glass, coins and an assortment of sculpture.
The ruins are extensive and feature the Martyrion of the apostle Philip, a fifth-century sanctuary with an octagonal chamber where it is believed the saint was martyred in 87AD. Near the remnants of a sixth century Christian basilica, are the foundations of a temple of Apollo dating from the third century. The second century Roman theatre is majestic with fifty rows of travertine steps. It has been restored recently, and is used during the city's Festival.
The Arch of Domitian is a triple arch erected by Julius Frontius, Proconsul of Asia in the first century AD. The city's necropolis has around a thousand tombs, ranging from small and simple to majestic and impressive.
Turkey's inner Aegean region.
Kumuka Worldwide has 11 day Discover Turkey Tours from Istanbul, including a visit to Pamukkale starting at $1120 per person. Accommodation, transport, some meals, entry fees, a day trip and all taxes are included.
Please note that the prices listed are valid at the time of filming.
For further information
Level 4/46-48 York Street
Sydney NSW 2000
Ph: 1300 667 277; (02) 9279 0491