PlacesSarah CahlanPlaces

The Cotton Castle

PlacesSarah CahlanPlaces
The Cotton Castle

Photo Story: Pamukkale

Michael Marquand & Sarah Cahlan | Photography by Michael Marquand

 

In the Southwest of Turkey lies one of the world’s strangest and most surreal geological formations. What looks like a small snow covered mountain located in the middle of a forest is actually calcium-rich terraced walls carved by ancient hot springs used as early as the 2nd century B.C. 

 
A thin layer of warm spring water at the top of the Pamukkale terraces covers the path and fills the pearly and blue and cloudy thermal pools. For thousands of years, mineral-rich water has overflown from a natural spring into pools below. The movement of the water supersaturated with calcium carbonate has carved the UNESCO Word Heritage sites' iconic white travertines. And for thousands of years, people from all over the known world have visited the pools - today, Muslim women bathing in long skirts and hijabs soak next to Western Europeans in Speedos and bikinis.

A thin layer of warm spring water at the top of the Pamukkale terraces covers the path and fills the pearly and blue and cloudy thermal pools. For thousands of years, mineral-rich water has overflown from a natural spring into pools below. The movement of the water supersaturated with calcium carbonate has carved the UNESCO Word Heritage sites' iconic white travertines. And for thousands of years, people from all over the known world have visited the pools - today, Muslim women bathing in long skirts and hijabs soak next to Western Europeans in Speedos and bikinis.

A favorite vacation spot for families, kids sit in the pools and line up against the white limestone walls to catch the warmest water as they cascade on the tops of their heads from the hot springs above. 

A favorite vacation spot for families, kids sit in the pools and line up against the white limestone walls to catch the warmest water as they cascade on the tops of their heads from the hot springs above. 

At certain parts along the trail, the geology surrounds the viewer. The limestone wall becomes steeper and the travertines below grow in their vastness. 

At certain parts along the trail, the geology surrounds the viewer. The limestone wall becomes steeper and the travertines below grow in their vastness. 

Pamukkale's story dates back thousands of years to the Attalid kings of Pergamon (modern-day Bergama). The kings of Pergamon ruled remnants of Lysimachus', a general of Alexander the Great, empire after his death. The Kings established Pamukkale as a spa resort and an extension of the city of Hierapolis in the 2nd century B.C.  

Pamukkale's story dates back thousands of years to the Attalid kings of Pergamon (modern-day Bergama). The kings of Pergamon ruled remnants of Lysimachus', a general of Alexander the Great, empire after his death. The Kings established Pamukkale as a spa resort and an extension of the city of Hierapolis in the 2nd century B.C.  

The ground of each travertine is a combination of sand and mud but the dirt is almost pure white. Further up the trail there are pockets of recently dry land where water is no longer flowing. Each dry pocket has a unique pattern in the earth from the water that was once there. Some of them are newly bare and clean and white and some of them are crusted over and rusty with the ground coming up underneath. Just like the Greco-Roman ruins above the travertines, the earth and the water tell a culturally colorful story.

The ground of each travertine is a combination of sand and mud but the dirt is almost pure white. Further up the trail there are pockets of recently dry land where water is no longer flowing. Each dry pocket has a unique pattern in the earth from the water that was once there. Some of them are newly bare and clean and white and some of them are crusted over and rusty with the ground coming up underneath. Just like the Greco-Roman ruins above the travertines, the earth and the water tell a culturally colorful story.

The sunlight bounces off the water and the pale cotton limestone creates a cool white light that feels all encompassing. The terraces, the white calcified walls and the baths are bathed both in water and light. 

The sunlight bounces off the water and the pale cotton limestone creates a cool white light that feels all encompassing. The terraces, the white calcified walls and the baths are bathed both in water and light.