Deriving from springs in a cliff almost 200 m high overlooking the plain of Curuksu in south-west Turkey, calcite-laden waters have created an unreal landscape, made up of mineral forests, petrified waterfalls and a series of terraced basins given the […]
Deriving from springs in a cliff almost 200 m high overlooking the plain of Curuksu in south-west Turkey, calcite-laden waters have created an unreal landscape, made up of mineral forests, petrified waterfalls and a series of terraced basins given the name of Pamukkale (Cotton Palace).
Located in the province of Denizli, this extraordinary landscape was a focus of interest for visitors to the nearby Hellenistic spa town of Hierapolis, founded by the Attalid kings of Pergamum at the end of the 2nd century BC, at the site of an ancient cult. These hot springs were also used for scouring and drying wool. Ceded to Rome in 133 BC, Hierapolis flourished, reaching its peak of importance in the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD.
The city, set on an area of 1000 x 800 sq. m. was exposed to numerous destructive earthquakes (the worst were in 17 AD, 60 AD & in 1354), each of which razed the city to the ground but rebuilt very quickly.
After Constantine the Great had moved the capital to Byzantium in 330 AD, proclaiming it “the New Rome” and declaring the Christianity an official religion of the Empire, Hierapolis became a bishopric and an important religious centre of the Eastern Roman Empire.
Hierapolis is an exceptional example of a Greco-Roman thermal installation established on an extraordinary natural site. The therapeutic virtues of the waters were exploited at the various thermal installations, which included immense hot basins and pools for swimming. Hydrotherapy was accompanied by religious practices, which developed in relation to local cults. The Temple of Apollo, which includes several Chthonian divinities, was erected on a geological fault from which noxious vapours escaped. The theatre, which dates from the time of Severus, is decorated with an admirable frieze depicting a ritual procession and a sacrifice to the Ephesian Artemis. The necropolis, which extends over 2 kilometres, affords a vast panorama of the funerary practices of the Greco-Roman era.
Pamukkale together with Hierapolis are recognized as a World Heritage Site since 1988.
Calcite-laden waters from hot springs, emerging from a cliff almost 200 meters high overlooking the plain, have created a visually stunning landscape at Pamukkale. These mineralized waters have generated a series of petrified waterfalls, stalactites and pools with step-like terraces, some of which are less than a meter in height while others are as high as six metres. Fresh deposits of calcium carbonate give these formations a dazzling white coating. The Turkish name Pamukkale, meaning “cotton castle”, is derived from this striking landscape.
Pamukkale’s terraces are made of travertine, a sedimentary rock deposited by water from the hot springs.
In this area, there are 17 hot water springs in which the temperature ranges from 35°C to 100°C. The water that emerges from the spring is transported 320 metres to the head of the travertine terraces and deposits calcium carbonate on a section 60 to 70 metres long covering an expanse of 24 metres to 30 metres. When the water, supersaturated with calcium carbonate, reaches the surface, carbon dioxide from it, and calcium carbonate is deposited. The depositing continues until the carbon dioxide in the water balances the carbon dioxide in the air. Calcium carbonate is deposited by the water as a soft jelly, but this eventually hardens into travertine.
The underground volcanic activity which causes the hot springs also forced carbon dioxide into a cave, which was called the Plutonium, which here means place of the god Pluto. This cave was used for religious purposes by priests of Cybele, who found ways to appear immune to the suffocating gas.Share this tour
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