Thursday, January 08, 2009

Pamukkale - The Cotton Castle Of Turkey

An unusual natural and historical site with the sparkling white castle -like cascades, Pamukkale is one of the most important highlights of Turkey, unique in the world. The site is named in Turkish as "Pamukkale", that means "cotton castle", parallel to the glorious and spectacular view of the site. The dazzling white calcareous castles are formed by limestone-laden thermal springs, creating the unbelievable formation of stalactites, potholes and cataracts.

The ancient city of Hierapolis was built on top of the white "castle" which is in total about 2700 meters long and 160m high. It can be seen from a great distance, eg. when driving down the hills on the opposite side of the valley to the town of Denizli, which is 20 km away. Pamukkale is located in Turkey's Inner Aegean region, in the River Menderes valley, which enjoys a temperate climate over the greater part of the year.

The tectonic movements that took place in the fault depression of the Menderes river basin did not only cause frequent earthquakes, but also gave rise to the emergence of a number of very hot springs, and it is the water from one of these springs, with its large mineral content — chalk in particular — that created Pamukkale. Apart from some radioactive material, the water contains large amounts of hydrogen carbonate and calcium, which leads to the precipitation of calcium carbonate. The effect of this natural phenomenon leaves thick white layers of limestone and travertine cascading down the mountain slope, making the area look like a fortress of cotton or a frozen waterfall.

The mineral-rich waters rise from the ground at a temperature of 35°C and tumble down the mountain from a height of 100 metres, forming a myriad of pools. Cream colored stalactites are formed as the water overflows the pools, creating a breathtaking sight unequalled in the world. Water is the sole instrument in the creation of this gleaming fairy castle that resembles cotton (hence the name "Cotton Castle"). There are an abundance of hot springs in this wonderland which are recommended for the treatment of heart disease, circulatory problems, high blood pressure, nervous disorders, rheumatism, eye and skin diseases, nervous and physical exhaustion, and digestive maladies.

Pamukkale Photos from Flickr

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