Yesterday I went on a tour of Pamukkale, an area of Turkey known for historical ruins and the “entrancing beauty of its unique geological formations”. Pamukkale lies on a platform overlooking the Curuksu Valley near the modern and rapidly growing industrial city of Denizli.
Pamukkale means “cotton castle”. The name comes from its white calcium oxide cascade terraces formed thousands of years ago from mineral deposits. In 1988 Pamukkale’s striking snow-white stalactites became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Our group of 21 included tourists from Algeria, Libya, France, Canada, Denmark, and Sweden – an interesting and fun group. It was an overcast day but not cold. Some brought swimsuits and enjoyed the mineral baths and others walked around the thermal pools, stalactites, and fascinating ruins.
I forgot my swim suit so instead had a Garra Rufa pedicure. Garra Rufa fish are an endangered species that live in warm water. They are unique to Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran and used in natural therapy to remove dry skin from hands and feet leaving it silky and soft. At first it tickles a little but then feels like a massage. Afterwards, I spent a few hours walking around the ruins.
The 14,000 year old ancient city of Hierapolis – also a UNESCO World Heritage Site – is on the top of Pamukkale’s white cascade terraces and can be seen from the hills on the opposite side of the valley. Created in 1984, Hierapolis Archeology Museum has beautiful examples of Bronze Age crafts from the excavations at Hierapolis and other towns of the Curuksu Valley. The museum is in one of the largest buildings of the ancient town and was previously a Roman Bath. We sat in remains of the ancient amphitheater and enjoyed the panorama.
Pamukkale is a top attraction in Turkey. Tourists and locals visit not only for their extraordinary appearance and ancient history but also for health benefits. The mineral-rich waters and volcanic springs in the region are scientifically proven to cure many diseases. Thermal hotels in the area are open 12 months a year and attract people from all over the world.
The mineral water of Pamukkale helps many health conditions, including “high blood pressure, rheumatism, nervous and physical exhaustion, eye and skin diseases, circulatory problems, digestive maladies, and nutritional and chronic disorders”. In addition to the curing effects of Pamukkale‘s mineral water, people also believe in has beautifying power. Pamukkale has a quiet allure similar to the ancient city of Knidos – hard to explain in words but a bit of magic.