12 Magnificent Travertine Terraces Around the World

Travertines around the world: Pamukkale at sunset
The travertine terraces of Pamukkale at sunset are enchanting. (Photo: muratart/Shutterstock)

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!

Travertines around the world: Huanglong, Sichuan, China
(Photo: Manamana/Shutterstock)

Huanglong, Sichuan, China

Travertines around the world: Aerial of Semuc Champey
(Photo: sfeichtner/Shutterstock)

Semuc Champey, Guatemala

Travertines around the world: Detail of Pamukkale
(Photo: Sergei Starus/Shutterstock)

Detail of Pamukkale, Turkey

Travertines around the world: Mammoth Hot Springs
(Photo: Philip Bird/Shutterstock)

Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Badab-e Surt, Mazandaran, Iran
Badab-e Surt, Mazandaran, Iran. (Photo: Siamaksabet/Wikimedia Commons)

Badab-e Surt, Mazandaran, Iran

Travertines around the world: Aerial of Huanglong
(Photo: chensiyuan/Wikimedia Commons)

Aerial view of Huanglong, Sichuan, China

Travertines around the world: Bagni San Filippo

Bagni San Filippo, Tuscany, Italy

Travertines around the world: Mammoth hot springs detail
(Photo: Don Graham/Flickr)

Detail of Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Travertines around the world: Eger, Hungary
(Photo: Pecold/Shutterstock)

Eger, Hungary

Travertines around the world: Plitvice National Park in Croatia
(Photo: Fesus Robert/Shutterstock)

Plitvice National Park, Croatia

Travertines around the world: Sunbather at Pamukkale
(Photo: ( Waiting for)

Sunbathers at Pamukkale, Turkey