Pamukkale has become one of the commercial features of Turkish tourism. The dazzling white limestone terraces can be seen frequently on posters and leaflets, with a result of an increasing number of visitors is every year. This white landscape has given the nearby village its name: Pamukkale. In addition to limestone terraces, Pamukkale also has a very interesting ruin city, Hierapolis.
More than two million years ago, a volcanic phenomenon initially caused the terraces to form on the slope. As a result, many new mountains were developed and the earth’s crust began to burst. This made the area very vulnerable to earthquakes. For many thousands of years, rainwater flowed past these cracks and this water ended up on a layer of limestone several meters thick. The heat caused the calcium carbonate to evaporate from this water. The calcium-rich water comes back to the surface from various sources when it is warmer than 35 degrees Celsius. When the weather cools down, the carbon dioxide disappears and white sediment is left that forms a limestone terrace. This is why the many limestone terraces on Pamukkale are white.
In 1988 UNESCO had to intervene when an overwhelming number of tourists visited Pamukkale. Tourists from all over the world came to Pamukkale to relax in the baths, in the hope that they would return home much healthier. Entrepreneurs saw this as an opportunity, and large hotels were built in Pamukkale to provide tourists a place to stay as close as possible to the healing waters. The hotels extracted the important limestone from the water, and enormous damage was done to Pamukkale when polluted water from the hotels was thrown away on the terraces. UNESCO could no longer see how a natural wonder like Pamukkale was destroyed by tourism and decided to put it on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The hotels near the terraces were then demolished. People can only bath in some of the terraces and it’s strictly forbidden to walk on the white terraces with shoes on. This way nature can restore itself and the terraces filled with clear turquoise water will become white again.
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