Amazing Places

You Can Kick Back in Pamukkale, Turkey's Natural Travertine Bathtubs

Here's a thing that you didn't know you needed to add to your travel bucket list: an ancient spa city. That's exactly what you'll find in Pamukkale, Turkey. After seeing the photos of this spectacular site, it won't be hard to believe that it is one of the country's most visited tourist attractions.

No Filter Necessary

The valleyside of Pamukkale, Turkey has grown naturally pristine white tubs of travertine filled with mineral-rich, warm water. And that's all you need to know for your Instagram photo opp, but there's way more. This village, whose Turkish name translates to "cotton castle," has a storied history that makes the views that much more idyllic. The photo-worthy terraces sit on the hillside near the Roman city Hierapolis. (UNESCO declared both Pamukkale and Hierapolis as a World Heritage Site in 1988.)

The "spa city" was established at the end of the 2nd century B.C., and it became a go-to site for Romans seeking a soak in the thermal pools both for health and relaxation. When you're not admiring the cliffside pools—which may be flooded with tourists in the daytime, explore the many ruins of the city that are less visited and still intact.

Tourists bathing in the Pamukkale travertine pools and terraces.

Not Your Backyard Kiddie Pool

We promise the glistening basins of Pamukkale are not sculptures commissioned by Turkey's tourism board. These hot tubs (the water is about 100 degrees Fahrenheit or 38 degrees Celsius) are all-natural, baby. The travertine terraces form over years and years of hot, mineral-rich waters that flow down a long canal. The high concentration of calcium carbonate in this water is what builds up into soft, white formations. Given enough time, these doughy shapes harden into the strong travertine reservoirs.

Because of the squishiness, tourists aren't allowed on some of the lower parts of Pamukkale. Walking there will be damage the formation and whiteness of the terraces. Oh well, better just kick back in a different natural hot tub.

The Curative Waters of Pamukkale, Turkey

Written by Joanie Faletto March 31, 2017

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