With its white travertine, thousands of years of history and scenic beauty, Turkey's Aegean province Denizli is becoming a focus of interest for those seeking cure in mineral-rich thermal pools during semester break.
Denizli, a key tourism center of the country in the southwest, offers a dynamic winter tourism for vacationers with its activities like paragliding, skiing, and hot air balloon riding.
Visitors can find numerous tourist attractions in ancient cities, caves and waterfalls, as well as a chance to taste local delicacies and shop in the historic bazaars.
In the city, which has been seen as a unique thermal therapy center since ancient times, hotels reached a 90 percent occupancy rate with the demand for thermal spring waters.
Located in Denizli, the “white paradise” Pamukkale (Cotton Castle) -- a UNESCO World Heritage Site -- is among the most popular tourist attractions in Turkey.
First stop: Pamukkale
One of the oldest tourist attractions in Turkey, Pamukkale is also a key landmark of the city.
Standing over the ruins of the ancient city of Hierapolis, Pamukkale has been known as a thermal therapy center for millennia since the Roman times, and especially famous for its white limestone travertine, shaped by calcium-rich hot springs.
The hot springs allow visitors to walk barefoot on the travertine terraces, without making them feel cold thanks to the temperature of the water which is hot even during winter time and its view offers tourists a unique scene for their pictures.
The world-renowned Pamukkale has been visited by more than two million tourists over the last 11 months, which is all time high. It is most popular among tourists from the Europe, Far East, Latin America countries and Russia.
Gazi Murat Sen, the president of a Denizli-based local tourism and hotel management association, told Anadolu Agency that occupancy rate of hotels in Pamukkale has already reached 90 percent thanks to the upcoming semester holiday.
Stating that domestic tourists mostly prefer places with thermal waters and skiing centers, Sen added that vacationists coming to Denizli would enjoy skiing in day time and relax in thermal waters at their hotels in the evening.
He added that Denizli’s climate was suitable for vacation throughout the year.
The ancient city of Hierapolis, which dates back to some 2,800 years ago and known as the Holy City in the literature of archeology for many temples and other religious structures in it, also entices visitors.
In front of the ancient theater, visitors first meet the “gate to hell”, which was unearthed in 2013 and also called “gate to the dead country” in ancient sources.
Swimming past millennial old ruins
The Cleopatra’s Pool -- where ancient Egyptian Queen Cleopatra bathed according to a myth -- in Hierapolis, gives visitors a thrill of swimming when surrounded by a 2,000-year-old column and marble ruins.
The pool formed naturally after the collapse of a series of columns in an earthquake in 692 A.D., which caused thermal water to accumulate.
With its water temperature fixed at 36 degrees Celsius (96 F) regardless of the season, the pool offers its visitors a unique experience. It is believed to have healing benefits for cardiovascular diseases, rheumatism, skin and nerve diseases as well as intestinal disorders if it is drunk.
Unique thermal therapy center since ancient times
Thanks to its thermal resources, Denizli has been seen as a thermal therapy center since the ancient times and it still preserves its title.
An important medical center during the Roman era, the city has a major place in the health tourism with its calcium and iron rich red waters, which also contain different minerals.
In the Karahayit region of the province, where many thermal resources gather, the hotels are occupied in winter season by those who want to find cure in the unusual red water.
The red water -- which remains at an average of 60 degrees Celsius (140 F) all year round -- is believed to help those with rheumatism, asthma, bronchitis, and skin diseases.
Scenic beauty of Denizli
Guney, Sakizcilar Asmaalti and Gumussu Waterfalls welcome nature lovers and those who seek peace in nature.
Kaklik Cave, which has similar view with the travertine of Pamukkale, and Keloglan Cave which offers interesting scenes with its stalactite and stalagmite are among the most visited places in the city.
Mehmet Ermis, a domestic tourist from western Balikesir province, told Anadolu Agency that he came to the city after watching it on the TV.
“The weather is cold but hot water reduces its effect. When you come to see such a beautiful place, the cold doesn’t affect you,” he said, adding that Denizli was ideal for winter holiday. (AA)