If you seek surreal, out-of-this-world sites, you’ll love this turquoise travel destination.
Pamukkale (“cotton castle” in Turkish) is a tiny town and UNESCO World Heritage Site in southwestern Turkey that boasts 17 of the most spectacular water terraces in the world. For thousands of years, people have journeyed to bathe in these hot springs, which range in temperature from 35 degrees Celsuis (95 degrees Fahrenheit) to 100 degrees Celsius (212 degrees Fahrenheit).
The warmth of the water is not the only appealing aspect of these thermal pools, however. Equally as attractive is the striking contrast between the glistening pools and the travertine—a type of white limestone deposited by thermal waters—that makes up the surrounding mountains.
Today, tourists continue to flock to the fascinating formations—even though, as seasoned world traveler Michael Turtle explains, visitors are no longer allowed to take a dip in the turquoise pools. “Whereas once you could swim in the travertines, now security guards keep a watchful eye on anyone trying to get too close. Other than a special swimming pool that has been constructed away from the cliffs, Pamukkale is generally to be seen but not touched these days.”
To Turtle, however, this amendment is ultimately for the best. “In many ways, that’s to be applauded,” he says. “The site is a truly remarkable natural phenomenon and it would be a pity if human interference damaged it permanently for future generations.”