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  • Writer's pictureHelen Avaient

Stay off the terraces at Pamukkale Turkey

Updated: Feb 10

The snow-white travertine terraces of Pamukkale are a visual delight and shimmer down the mountainside. It is known as the Cotton Castle. A local legend states that the formations are cotton left out to dry by giants. Cotton is also the principal crop of the area. But like a lot of tourist destinations around the world, this beautiful place is being destroyed by some thoughtless and selfish people.

Water from the calcite rich springs drips down the mountainside where the calcium carbonate in the waters collect into the pools below and solidifies over millenia. The terraces are 60 to 70 metres (200 to 230 ft) long covering an expanse of 24 metres (79 ft) to 30 metres (98 ft). 17 hot springs are located in the area and the water temperatures range from 35 °C (95 °F) to 100 °C (212 °F). For thousands of years Pamukkale has been a place that people flocked to, for the therapeutic benefits of the waters and the natural beauty of the outstanding scenery.

Until the mid-20th century, hotels were built over the ruins and the terraces. The hotels drained the thermal waters and caused many problems with the infrastructure. Due to the damage they caused, the hotels were demolished, and the limestone deposits then started to regenerate. Artificial pools have been created in the area for people to use. The terraces are off-limits to people now as significant damage has occurred due to tourists standing on the limestone.

Guards are spaced around the terraces and constantly remind visitors not to stand on the terraces. I also heard various tour guides there asking visitors not to step on them, but people ignored the requests and did what they wanted, all to ensure they got a photo of themselves with the spectacular views in the background. Sadly, if they continue to do this, the terraces will become too eroded for anyone to enjoy visiting. They are a fragile formation. When you visit, please respect the requests to stay off the limestone. Pathways are provided to guide visitors to safe areas. A selfie is not worth the permanent damage caused.

Happy Travels!

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