While visiting historical sites, say the word ROMAN, and the word BATH suggests itself as a suffix !
All ancient Roman cities had elaborate buildings called The Public Baths, which were not merely washing up places, but popular venues for leisure and socialising. Everything from neighbourhood gossip to War Strategies were discussed here and there's no telling how many brilliant scientific and philosophical concepts were inspired by the relaxing waters of the BATH. Not content with devising cunning architectural designs for drawing up a perfect tub of bathwater, the Romans also gratefully appropriated mountain lakes and hotsprings as additional, value added baths. In PAMUKKALE, a whole city called HIERAPOLIS was raised around a set of natural hot springs that were found to be mineral rich.
PAMUKKALE,meaning COTTON CASTLE, is a natural wonder, where snow white cliffs , formed from calcarious salt deposits carried by the mountain springs, create a surreal scenery. The cliff and the valley look exactly like the glacial slopes of Alps or Himalayas, only, its not snow but calcium that gives that brilliant powdery white look. The Cotton Castle is situated in South Western Turkey, in Denzili Province and is 2700meters long, 600 meters wide and about 160 meters above road level.
The central canyon, termed the travertine( a sedimentary rock formation), has breathtakingly beautiful deposits of hardened calcium carbonate that resemble tier upon tier of shallow white troughs. Within the basins are sheets of water, fresh, crystalline blue in colour.
This area sees a lot of geothermal activity and according to our Guide, low intensity tremors that cannot be felt by humans, occur on a daily basis ! Long craggy ditches, in which cool streams of water gush down are creations of stronger quakes.
Great crowds mill around the canyon wading in the cold shallow pools and frolicking on the white " false snow". And shutterbugs go crazy ! Needless to add, this scenic spot is becoming a hot favourite among our moviemakers for shooting romantic songs !
A little way up the canyon, at the edge of the ancient city of Hierapolis is an enclosed plaza with Hot Springs where swimming is allowed against a fee. It is called "Cleopatra's Pool". But there is no charm here, as it is completely rebuilt and looks like a modern heated swimming pool, the the water is from natural hotsprings . We can only imagine how it would have looked in Roman times.
The city of Hierapolis ( first built in 2 BC, rebuilt in 20AD) is mostly rubble, except for the amphitheater, and we have to trust the Guide when he points to ruin after ruin , naming them Basilica or stoa or Agora. The city was inhabited upto the 13th. century, when it was abandoned after a devastating earthquake.
The most interesting place in Hierapolis seems to have been a cave called PLUTONIUM, dedicated to Pluto, god of the Netherworld. Carbondioxide given off by geothermal activity , issued from a fissure inside the cave, killing off anyone who dared to enter it. Only the Eunuch Priests, who had found a way not to inhale the gas, were immune to it and were hence considered magical Oracles. The oracular Cult of Cybele ( = Gaia, Rhea, Earth Goddess) flourished here till early Christians shut it down.
Pamukkale - Hierapolis is a "World Heritage Site" ( from 1988)