By Avril-Ann Braganza
Swim in limestone pools to strengthen your bones in Pamukkale or float among the ruins of the ancient city of Hierapolis, says Avril-Ann Braganza
Our lovely days in Turkey whiz by and we've already seen bits of Istanbul, Troy, Pergamon, Ephesus and Kusadasi. Our next stop is Pamukkale. Peeking out of the window in my hotel room, I can see a beautiful white mountain in the distance. It's way too hot for snow and from a distance, it looks like chalk.
The next morning we make our way to the 'white mountain' or Pamukkale, which means Cotton Castle in Turkish. We get off the bus and walk past several date trees and the ruins of the ancient city of Hierapolis, which was established in 200 BC by Eumenes II. A ‘sacred city’ at one point, today you can visit the ancient museum and swim amidst and over ruins in the clear, aqua waters of the Hierapolis Antique Pool.
As we draw nearer, this white creation of nature leaves us mesmerised. We cannot help but pose for a few pictures with the Cotton Castle in the background. Up close, I think it looks like a snow castle. Now a World Heritage Site, the travertine (calcium carbonate) terraces, pools and stalactites were created by the warm mineral water in the area. As it cascades over the edge of the cliff, it cools depositing its calcium. Believed to have curative powers, many people bathe in the warm waters that fill these white terraces. Although many pools have now dried up, it's still a breathtaking experience.
Taking a dip
We take off our footwear and run into the water. But the limestone surface is slippery and soon we hold on to one another as we make our way slowly through the milky white pools, stopping every now and then for a picture or two. We sit along a canal of sorts and soak our legs in the warm water, while others apply some of the calcium carbonate paste on their arms. Unfortunately, we don't have our swimsuits at hand and so a dip is impossible, but we see many others in their bathing suits swimming for a while in the calcium-laden water.
Hierapolis Antique Pool
As we get out of the water and head back, passing more ruins of Hierapolis including the amphitheatre, the white calcium carbonate powder sticks to our legs. We walk by the Hierapolis Antique Pool that has been shaped by an earthquake. A group of tourists swim around, others perch atop the marble ruins that fell into the spring and few others wave to me as I capture the gleaming turquoise waters of the pool. After some yummy ice cream at the Apollon Cafe, we make our way to the airport for our flight back to Istanbul.
Images by Averil-Ann Braganza