Until yesterday, I thought travertine was a pattern for kitchen benchtops. The little Turkish town of Pamukkale put me right. Its two main attractions are the ruins of the city of Hieropolis on the hill overlooking it and the travertine terraces down the side of the hill. The ruins are interesting enough – a theatre, a small temple, a ‘plutonium’ where oracles entered a volcanic vent and came back with gnomic advice from the Underworld (the plutonium is bricked up except for a small hole, but you can hear the sounds of water if you listen at the hole). It’s the travertine that led one of our group to remark, ‘I can’t go on saying it everyday, but I’ve never seen anything like this.’
Travertine, according to Wikipedia, is a form of limestone deposited by mineral springs, especially hot springs. I understand the process to be similar to what happens in limestone caves. Calcium carbonate deposits, let me tell you, can be magical.
Here’s what it looks like up close. Note the bare foot: even though our body oils have a destructive effect, the potential damage caused by the thousands of tourists is reduced by a no-shoes rule and strict limits on where we are allowed to walk. The surface is completely hard, and the ridges mean it’s not the slightest bit slippery, even when wet, as the path up the hill mostly is.
The rules weren’t enforced for dogs, and this little pack of strays had a fabulous time as the sun was about to set.
By the time the terraces looked like this the dogs had sniffed out the chips and bikkies we were eating and had abandoned their frolics to turn a charm offensive on us, with a shameful degree of success.