Dreaming of escaping to a faraway place that’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen? The surreal, almost alien-looking landscape of Pamukkale, Turkey is enhanced by the ruins of the ancient Greco-Roman spa city of Hierapolis. Pamukkale means ‘cotton castle’ in Turkish, and refers to the cascades of hardened minerals that flow down its stepped travertine hot spring terraces.
Located in Turkey’s Inner Aegean region, the area is a major tourist attraction as visitors from the world over flood in to gaze at these highly unusual landscape formations. In the 20th century, modern hotels were actually built on top of the ruins of Hierapolis, an ancient Byzantine and Greco-Roman city that stands at the top of Pamukkale, and a road ran through one of the terraces. Pamukkale-Hierapolis is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and all traces of modernity have been removed.
The Hierapolis hot springs were used as a natural spa for centuries, beginning in the 2nd century BCE. Many visitors would come to live out their final years here, ending up in the nearby Hierapolis necropolis. The main feature of this spa city is the Sacred Pool, which is littered with the remnants of columns from the Roman Temple of Apollo, and guests can still swim in it for a fee.
Like so many other ancient and natural sites, Pamukkale has been greatly changed by modern tourism, and it’s not quite the meditative spot that it once was. But its white terraces are literally unlike anything else in the world, and definitely worth a stop if you’re ever traveling in the area.
All images via Wikimedia Commons