Pamukkale is a natural site that lies in the Southwestern part of Turkey in the Denizli Province. This area is part of the Aegean region situated in the Menderes River Valley and affords quite mild climates for most of the year. The site itself is often referred to as the "Cotton Castle" as it is made up of cotton looking white travertine terraces that come from the carbonate minerals of the flowing water. The area itself is 2,700 metres long, 600 metres wide and 160 metres high and can be seen from as far away as 20 kilometres.
It is said that the waters that deposit in the terraces and that run over them have healing and beautifying powers. There is a legend to Pamukkale that "proves" this theory. It is said that there was a young girl who could not be married off as she was too ugly. She decided to kill herself by jumping off the white travertines of Pamukkale. As she jumped she fell into the natural mineral pools that deposit throughout the terraces and did not die. Because of these natural and beautifying minerals of the water the girl woke up to be a beautiful looking girl who was then noticed by the passing Lord of Denizli and was soon married off to him, as he had fallen madly in love with her.
They say the mineral waters of Pamukkale can help with ailing elements of high blood pressure, kidney stones, rheumatism, eye and skin disease, exhaustion, circulatory issues and nutritional and chronic disorders. With these healing powers it turned the site into a centre for healing and became a spa resort, from ancient times till now. There is evidence of civilisation in this area dating back to as far as the 1900's B.C. It is then well documented that the people of Pergamum came to Pamukkale and built the Ancient City of Hierapolis back in 190 B.C.
The City of Hierapolis then became a famous spa retreat that was used by the Greeks and became part of the Roman Empire. It developed into a thriving and major City with thousands of people coming to visit the mineral pools to cure the ailments. By 1300 Hierapolis was abandoned and after a devastating earthquake in 1534 it became a forgotten City until it was discovered in archaeological digs in the late 1800's early 1900's.
Tourism then took over and the site was slowly being ruined with the mistreatment of all the visiting tourist. Once names a UNESCO World Heritage Site it was then better protected and cared for. Today you are limited with where you can walk and swim to ensure the protection of the Cotton Cliffs of Pamukkale.
The geography of Pamukkale is quite an interesting one. Most people assume that the deposits are sodium, salt baths when they are in fact calcium deposits that have been created by the natural landscape surrounding them. The white terraces of Pamukkale are made of travertine, which is a sedimentary rock that has been deposited by the water running over them from the hot springs.
The area of Pamukkale has over 15 hot water springs where the temperatures can range from 35 degrees celsius up to as hot as 100 degrees celsius. It is quite amazing as the water that emerges from the earth to come out of the springs is carried up 320 metres. It deposits calcium carbonate, that when reaching the surface and mixing with the carbon dioxide takes the gases from it and calcium carbonate is deposited, leaving you with the white appearance that you witness today.
The calcium carbonate comes out from the water as a soft jelly substance but it then hardens into the travertine.
For this to happen is a mix of the weather conditions, temperature and the flow of water. From scientists calculations it is said that 499.9 mg of calcium carbonate is deposited on the travertine for every liter of water, making it around 43,191 grams deposited daily, covering an area of up to 13,584 square metres.
The tectonic movement that is triggered from frequent small earthquakes in this area over time, is how the travertines and springs have emerged. Over the past 14,000 years these waters have been running over this area which has caused moss build ups in travertines and can spoil the whiteness.