Turkey-pamukkale-travertine-sunset

Travertine terraces are some of the most bizarre-looking geological formations on Earth. The rock that makes up these unique formations is a type of limestone commonly deposited by mineral springs through a process of rapid precipitation of carbonate minerals.

Travertine has been used as a building material since the time of the ancient Romans, and it was even used in the construction of St. Peter’s Basilica and Square in Vatican City. However, the most stunning structures this rock has been known to produce are the travertine terraces!

The most iconic example of the travertine terrace phenomenon is found in Pamukkale (above) in Denizli Province of southwestern Turkey. Pamukkale, which means “cotton castle” in Turkish, is located near the ruins of the ancient city of Hierapolis, and it has been a popular bathing spot for thousands of years. Pamukkale and Hierapolis were jointly named a World Heritage Site in 1988, and the area remains one of the country’s most beloved tourist destinations to this day.

Pamukkale shouldn’t hog all the glory, however. From China to Guatemala to Iran, the Earth has quite a collection of natural travertine treasures. Continue below for more instances of this geological wonder!

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Travertine-China-huang-long

Huanglong, Sichuan, China

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Travertine-champey

Semuc Champey, Guatemala

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Travertine-pamukkale-travertine-Tiles

Detail of Pamukkale, Turkey

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Travertine-mammoth-hot-springs

Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

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Travertine-badab-e-surt

Badab-e Surt, Mazandaran, Iran

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Travertine-huang-long-China

Aerial view of Huanglong, Sichuan, China

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Travertine-bagni-san-filippo

Bagni San Filippo, Tuscany, Italy

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Travertine-mammoth-hot-springs-tiles

Detail of Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

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eger-hungary-travertine

Eger, Hungary

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travertine-plitvice-croatia

Plitvice National Park, Croatia

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pamukkale-sunbather-turkey-travertine

Sunbathers at Pamukkale, Turkey

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