Location: Denizli Province



Pamukkale (Turkish: Cotton Castle or Cotton Fortress) - a Turkish town located in the Cürüksu Valley (in ancient times called the Lycos Valley), about 18 km from Denizli.

It is famous for its limestone deposits formed on the slope of Mount Cökelez. Water flowing from hot springs, rich in calcium compounds and carbon dioxide, cools on the surface and precipitates calcium carbonate, the deposits of which form numerous dripstones. On the mountain slope, there are thresholds, semicircular and elliptical pools of thermal water, separated from each other by round dams, over which the water flows. This process has been going on for about 14,000 years. The sedimentary rocks formed here are travertines.

The Turkish authorities protected the area by creating a national park, which is included in the World Natural Heritage List. Hotels built in the area contributed to environmental degradation. Therefore, the Turkish authorities ordered their closure and demolition. In 1997, the tourist route leading through the natural terraces was closed. The southern part is open to visitors along an artificial canal through which water flows, filling artificially created pools. Due to the protection of sediments, entering the travertines is only possible after removing shoes. The calcium content in the flowing water is so high that it can cover an area of approximately 4.9 km² per year with 1 mm thick sediment. Concrete dams creating artificial pools are already thoroughly covered with sediment. The water flow (amount and place) is regulated by park employees so as to evenly supply natural and artificial pools.




Pamukkale is located in southwest Turkey, more precisely in the valley of the Meander River, near the ancient archaeological site of Laodicea of Lycos, fifteen kilometers northeast of the city of Denizli, in the homonymous province.



The thermal springs
Tectonic movements not only caused frequent earthquakes, but also allowed the creation of numerous thermal springs. The water that flows from it is supersaturated with calcium ions and carbon dioxide, which forms carbonic acid with the water. By emerging, the water loses a large part of the carbon dioxide, shifting the chemical balance from bicarbonate to calcium carbonate which, also due to the lowering of the temperature, precipitates giving rise to the characteristic formations, made up of thick white layers of limestone and travertine along the mountain slope, making the area similar to a cotton fortress or ice falls.

Pamukkale was defaced during the 20th century: hotels were built on top of the site, destroying part of the ruins of Hierapolis, and hot water was channeled to fill the hotels' artificial pools. For years, the discharges from the latter poured waste water directly onto the site, contributing significantly to the darkening of the limestone basins. An asphalt road was also built in the middle of the site to allow visitors to reach the top of the formation by bike, motorbike or on foot. Furthermore, the latter were allowed to wash themselves inside the limestone tanks using industrial detergents, further aggravating the problem.

Following the damage caused, UNESCO intervened, preparing a recovery plan in an attempt to reverse the darkening process. The hotels were demolished, and the street covered with artificial pools which are still accessible, unlike the rest, by barefoot tourists. A small trench was dug along the edge, in order to recover the water and avoid its dispersion. The brown parts are bleached by leaving them in the sun, in the absence of water for several hours a day. For this reason many swimming pools are empty. Some areas are covered in water for a couple of hours a day, according to the schedule displayed at the top of the hill. Furthermore, the site is constantly monitored by staff who prevent visitors from abusing the places. Thanks to these interventions the musa is slowly regaining its natural white color.

The underground volcanic activity that generated the thermal springs also allows carbon dioxide to escape, generating what is called "Plutonium", made up entirely of pluto, and which means "place of the god of death".



The site is also interesting from an archaeological point of view. Founded in the 2nd century BC. BC by one of the kings of Pergamum, the ancient city of Hierapolis developed thanks to the exploitation of its thermal springs. Hiera was the name of the wife of Telepheus, legendary founder of Pergamon.

However, it was the Romans who constructed the greatest number of buildings, before the city was completely rebuilt following a violent earthquake in 60. The city was dedicated to the god Apollo, as well as the god Pluto who had an oracle in the basement of the temple of Apollo.

To the north of the site is the necropolis, the thermal baths and the Domitian Gate, a beautiful triumphal arch with three bays flanked by two large round towers. The necropolis has more than 1,200 tombs from different periods, including circular tumuli, but also Greek tombs covered with graffiti and tombs from the Roman era.

The tomb of Saint Philip was apparently found on the site, near the martyrium of the same name, at the end of July 2011.

The thermal pool is still in use. It was named "Cleopatra's pool" by Marc Antony in honor of the latter who had bathed there once and would have brought this water to Rome afterwards, by convoys.



The site is visited by thousands of people every year. Tourist developments during the 20th century greatly degraded the site, notably with the construction of hotels too close to the terraces or the construction of a road through them, a road now closed to traffic and occupied by a succession of artificial stepped pools.

As the pools are freely accessible, many visitors immerse themselves in the warm waters they contain.

To preserve the pools, access is without shoes.