June 7, 2008


PamukkaleFrom a distance the fantastic rock formations of Pamukkale (meaning "cotton castle" in turkish) in southwestern Turkey resemble a castle built of snow and ice. Tier upon tier, the dazzling white ramparts and parapets descend for more than 300 feet down a rugged mountainside. On closer inspection, however, the steplike series of overlapping basins looks more like a gigantic waterfall petrified by some mysterious, awesome force of nature. The strange rocks of Pamukkale are the improbable handiwork of hot springs.

Farther up the mountainside springs bubble from the earth, issuing a stream of water with a
temperature of about 43 degree celsius and very high concentration of dissolved mineral salts. The water has been flowing down the slope, cooling, evaporating, and depositing the dissolved minerals. Bit by bit, the walls of the many stepped rocky terraces and basins took their present form. For centuries the spring water has been prized for its therapeutic properties. In ancient times the Romans built a thermal resort, Hierapolis, nearby.

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