Pamukkale and Hierapolis, Turkey

Pamukkale, Turkish for ‘cotton castle’, is a site in Turkey’s Denizli Province and home to a variety of hot springs. There are 17 springs on the site with temperatures ranging from 35 ºC to 100 ºC. The terraces of the springs are made from travertine, a sedimentary rock deposited by water from the hot springs.

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Pamukkale is adjacent to the ancient city of Hierapolis, built on top of ancient hot springs. These springs had been used since the 2nd Century BC with many patrons choosing to retire there.

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Tourism has always played a large role in the city’s economy as people have been bathing in its pools for thousands of years.

To capitalise on the strong tourist attractions, hotels were built on the ruins of Hierapolis in the mid 20th century, causing considerable damage. When both locations became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988, the hotels and roads were demolished and replaced with artificial pools.

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One of the more popular areas in Pamukkale is the Antique Pool. A modern spa complex with a thermal pool open to the public. Unlike other sites in Pamukkale, the pool is surrounded by lush greenery, and in it sits a variety of marble columns and plinths that are widely believed to have fallen from the nearby Temple of Apollo during an earthquake, meaning the pool is rich in minerals. One of the pools there, Cleopatra’s Pools is named after the former Egyptian Queen who allegedly swam in a pool on that site.

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Hierapolis is also home to a beautiful museum, with historical artefacts from Hierapolis, Ladoceia, Colossae, Tripolis, Attuda and other town in the Lycos valley. The museum exhibits some of the most beautiful examples of Bronze Age craft.

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Artifacts from the Caria, Pisidia and Lydia regions are also on display in this museum. The museum’s exhibition space consists of three closed areas of the Hierapolis baths and the open areas in the eastern side which are known to have been used as the library and gymnasium. The artifacts in the open exhibition space are mostly marble and stone. Hierapolis is broken down into ruins.

Another great stop whilst in the area is the site of the Plutonium cave. Underground volcanic activity forced Carbon Dioxide into the former sanctuary of Greek god Pluto. The cave was used for religious purposes by priests of Cybele, who found ways of making it appear as if they were unaffected by the suffocating gas.

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Wearing shoes inside the pools is prohibited to protect the deposits. Also, access to the springs terraces are not allowed , only small pools are used. Despite these limitations, visiting the spring is well worth the trip, as it is one of the great beauties of the natural world.

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