A Swim in Sacred Waters

Traveling around the world has truly been a dream come true, but I also dream of settling down in a house one day. And in that house of my dreams there’s a big beautiful bathtub. One that I can soak in after a long day and just melt away the stress of the day. The people of Pamukkale know what I’m talking about. It’s here in southwestern Turkey where they've been bathing in the healing hot springs since Roman times.

Come on in! The water is heated by volcanic lava from way underground. It’s also really milky, thanks to calcium and other minerals.

Sacred City

The ancients believed Apollo founded the city and associated the vapors of its hot springs with Pluto, god of the underworld. Hierapolis (as it was called) had its heyday in the 2nd and 3rd centuries as a Roman thermal bath center. Between the 5th and 12th centuries, it was a religious center for the Byzantines. The springs were considered holy water and used in baptisms and funerals.

Today, you can walk around the ruins and enjoy a dip in the same hot mineral water that’s been flowing for more than two thousand years.

The ruins include this recently restored theatre. It’s incredibly steep and set high up on a hill, providing a highly dramatic setting for any performance.

Cotton Castle

Even if you don’t buy that these waters hold any special powers, the travertine terraces (composed of carbonate minerals left behind from the flowing waters) are nothing short of magical. The site earned the nickname “cotton castle” but I think it looks more like ice or snow than cotton balls. It’s a beautiful illusion. When you step out onto the travertines, it’s surprising to feel this white surface beneath your feet is hard as a rock. 

Pamukkale's terraces are made of travertine, a sedimentary rock deposited by water from the hot springs.

The water dissolves pure white calcium, becomes saturated with it, and carries it to the earth's surface, where it bursts forth and runs down a steep hillside. 

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  Cooling in the open air, the calcium precipitates from the water, adheres to the soil, and forms white calcium "cascades" frozen in stone called travertines. 

Cooling in the open air, the calcium precipitates from the water, adheres to the soil, and forms white calcium "cascades" frozen in stone called travertines. 

Cleopatra’s Pool

The area offers yet another unique natural wonder with Cleopatra's Pool. Legend has it that Marc Anthony built it for her (what a great gift!) but then at some point, an earthquake hit and littered the pool with broken columns from the surrounding structure. Fast-forward to today and swimming amongst the ruins in this “antique pool” filled with mineral water makes for a pretty cool experience. Root and I spent a couple of hours here and it definitely melted away the travel stress and strain.

A bath in Cleopatra’s Pool has always been known to possess healing properties.