I thought I would do something interesting and feature UNESCO World Heritage Sites over the next little while, specifically places of natural beauty. Observing and learning about unusual and beautiful places on this planet is probably one of my favourite things.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place (such as a forest, mountain, lake, desert, monument, building, complex, or city) that is listed by the UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance. UNESCO an acronym that stands for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
There are countless places to start and I've already featured a few here like Plitvice Lakes National Park, Lake Baikal and the Island of Surtsey and I have a draft almost ready to go on Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump, but today we'll start with the travertine hot springs in Pamukkale, Turkey.
Pamukkale means cotton castle, and has also been called the white castle because of the vast whiteness caused by the high concentration of calcite in the water. Travertine sedimentary deposits have created the white terraces, petrified waterfalls and mineral forests that make up the landscape. The 17 hot springs are heated by an underground volcano.
The area has been used as a healing spa for thousands of years. The Romans built the ancient city of Hieropolis here. Hieropolis is partnered with Pamukkale as a World Heritage Site. To help preserve the area, hotels and access roads were taken down and man-made pools were created to help in keeping the natural beauty of Pamukkale.
Travertine is a form of limestone deposited by mineral springs, especially hot springs. Travertine exists in white, tan, and cream-colored varieties. In limestone caves it can form stalactites and stalagmites.
It is frequently used in Italy and elsewhere as a building material. The Roman Colosseum, for example, was built with travertine limestone blocks and is what gives the monument it's yellowish hue. It's also what created the stepped beauty in Plitvice Lakes and it is forming locally in a nearby landmark known as Johnston Canyon. Here's a photo I took while walking around there a few years ago.
|Travertine limestone on the left which is very different from the natural soil on the right [photo credit: Frimmy!]|
I don't know what Pamukkale is like in person but the photos I see are ethereal and calming. I presume if it has held spa-like value to people over the centuries then they must also have found it to be calming.
I should just assume if I've thought of something geographical as a subject for a post, a certain recently discovered geographer/blogger has already done it. I really ought to search first but then I might decide not to write it and then where would you be? Reading rants about fast food workers and who needs that more than once a year? As he kindly said, there's more than enough room out there for posts like this and he's got a great article here with a completely different set of pictures and with an added focus on Heiropolis, it's worth checking out.