Pamukkale – Turkey

A Cotton Castle of Curative Powers Since Roman Times

A freak of nature and a geological fairyland, Pamukkale (Cotton Castle) resembles a series of bleached rice terraces as you approach. The white travertine tiers, joined together like huge water lilies by petrified cotton-candy waterfalls and gleaming white stalac­tites, are the result of hot mineral springs whose calcium-rich deposits have been accu­mulating for millennia.

A popular resort since Roman times, Pamukkale still draws tourists, who are put in a festive mood by the bizarre formations and otherworldly weirdness. It is as dazzling during the day, when they appear pure white, as at sunset, when they pick up the muted pink and purple pastel colors of the sky.

Although proven harmful to the pools – and despite a ruling that will sooner or later be enforced – wading in the 97°F. water is permitted for the time being, though anything other than a splash, a wallow, or a footbath is pretty much out, owing to the fact that most of the pools are only shin-deep.

The otherwise unremarkable Pamukkale Motel is on the site of an ancient sacred Roman bath; sunken pil­lars and architectural fragments litter the bottom of the pool, which is deep enough for swimming.

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