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WELLNESS WALHALLA IN TURKEY

Turkey has traditionally been known for its many hot springs. Even the Roman emperors regained their strength here. Nowadays, Turkey is still the wellness destination par excellence, where you can enjoy your holiday and work on your health at the same time. Really: it will be possible again soon. How nice…

Text: Bart-Jan Brouwer
Online editor: Natasha Hendriks

Healing power

For thousands of years, people have been looking for places with medicinal and healing properties. The end point of this quest is often Turkey. The country has been known as a haven for wellness seekers since ancient times. Hierapolis, north of Denizli, was founded as a spa town in the early second century BC. Because there are many religious buildings, it is also called 'Holy City'. Archaeological excavations revealed beautiful Byzantine gates as well as a theater, temples and thermal baths. With its healing waters, Hierapolis was known as 'the resting place of the emperor'. The Egyptian queen Cleopatra is also said to have paddled here. One of the baths here is named after her. Another ancient city that made history as a spa town is Pergamon, the current one Bergama, Izmir province. The city had a healing center called the Asclepion (built in honor of Asclepius, the Greek snake god). In the first century, this was a cross between a hospital and a spa, where you could have a mud bath or an operation. Even the Roman emperors came all the way here to gain new strength. Nowadays, the spas are not just reserved for emperors and Cleopatras: the thermal baths, spas and yoga retreats are accessible to everyone.

Natural phenomenon

Due to its favorable location on a geothermal belt, Turkey is the No. 1 in Europe and No. 7 in the world for medicinal hot springs. That makes Turkey the wellness destination par excellence. In addition to many bathhouses and spas, the country has more than a thousand hot springs, which are said to have beneficial effects against conditions such as psoriasis, arthritis and rheumatism, reduce stress and improve the quality of life in general. A natural phenomenon in Turkey is Pamukkale, close to the aforementioned Hierapolis – both are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Strongly calcareous water runs through a large number of terraces on a slope. Calcium carbonate precipitates from the warm water (35°) and thick layers of lime are deposited along the terraces. The slope is reminiscent of a cotton castle or a frozen waterfall. After Pamukkale, Afyon is one of the most visited places in years because of its thermal waters. The place has five large hot springs and many high-end spa hotels. In addition to medicinal waters, you will also find a rich history there, as Afyon has been home to Muslims, Greeks, Armenians and Jews. Afyon is also known for its delicious sausage, also called Turkish sausage. Just twenty kilometers from the city is the Gazlıgöl thermal spring. With water rich in carbon dioxide, sodium bicarbonate, sodium chloride, bromide and fluoride, this thermal source is suitable for people with rheumatism, cardiovascular disease, intestinal complaints, kidney disease and metabolic disorders. Regular mud therapy can combat wrinkles and other skin imperfections. If you want to make the skin more youthful, relieve fatigue and strengthen the immune system, this is the perfect thermal source.

Mosques, museums and markets

The historic city of Bursa, capital of the province of the same name, is also rich in hot springs. In the districts of Armutlu and Cekirge you will find excellent thermal facilities. Between the mud baths you can relax in this former capital of hhe Ottoman Empire marvel at the most beautiful mosques, museums and markets. About a forty-minute drive from Bursa you will find Mount Olympus, which is ideal for winter sports. The spa in Sivas, in Central Anatolia, is especially suitable for patients with psoriasis and other skin diseases. The warm spring water (37°) not only has a healing effect, thanks to ingredients such as selenium, calcium and magnesium, it is also populated by two types of fish that can only live in this water: fish that feast on dead skin cells and flakes, and fish that nibble the skin clean. Also in cities like Cesme, Yalova and Ankara – where not in Turkey? – you will find large hot springs. Just like you see Turkish bathhouses everywhere. Wherever you go, one thing is certain: after you have been scrubbed, washed and massaged - with or without the use of aromatic oils - you will feel reborn. In addition to classic hammams, Turkey is also home to some of the largest and most luxurious spa hotels in the world. The coastal resorts are attractive destinations in the summer, where you can enjoy your holiday and work on your health at the same time. Especially Antalya, Bodrum, Fethiye and Izmir are popular destinations for spa & detox holidays, attracting guests from all over the world, including international celebrities. These hotels and resorts offer everything from body cleansing and detox diets to thalassotherapy and Ayurvedic treatments. Instead of spending the night in a hotel, you can also camp and in some places even sleep in a tree house. However you organize your trip, enjoy a holiday to the fullest and still return like a young Roman god: that's what Turkey offers!