Hot Springs: Middle East North Africa
By: Anthony Bayyouk / Arab America Contributing Writer
The Middle East and North Africa are known for their food, music, language, politics among many other things. But what is lesser know is the beauty of the land in the Middle East North Africa region. The countless mountains surrounded by olive trees are a sight like no other. But did you know that the Middle East and North Africa are known for their beautiful hot springs? If you don’t know what hot springs are, here’s what happens: the hot spring is a spring produced by the emergence of geothermal-heated groundwater rising from the Earth’s crust. There are hot springs in many locations all over the world. While some of these springs contain water that is a safe temperature for bathing, others are so hot that immersion can result in injury or death.
Hot Springs have become a popular site for tourists to stay a night or two on their trip through the Middle East. For centuries humans have long understood that immersing the body in naturally hot water is relaxing and may have healing benefits as well. Public hot baths were part of everyday life in the Roman Empire. The culture of taking baths in hot springs was first introduced to Arabs by the Turks. Leading way to a long history of hot baths encouraged by Islam’s emphasis on cleanliness. The Hot Springs around the Middle East are found on the edge of mountains, in the middle of deserts, and even in Roman ruins.
Ma’in Hot Springs
One of the most beautiful hot springs in the Middle East lives in Jordan, Ma’in which Is about 43 miles from the capital Amman and is 264 ft below sea level. The hot spring flows from a small valley of waterfalls. Herod the Great was said to have bathed in MA’in. The mineral-rich waters contain potassium, magnesium, and calcium. Here the water, ranging from 113 degrees Fahrenheit to a scorching 140, runs down the hillside in a series of waterfalls and is collected in a variety of pools for public bathing. Ma’in is one of Jordan’s many great landmarks, and now there is a resort around the Hot Spring for visitors to enjoy.
There are 117 hot springs across Morocco, Moulay Yacoub is a mountainous village located in northeast Morocco. Moulay Yacoub is specifically a spa city. Moulay Yacoub has been renowned for the richness of its natural hot springs. The spa town takes its name from Abu Yusuf Yaqub al-Mansur, the 3rd caliph of the Almohad Caliphate, whose legend claims that he was cured after having his first bath. The water is pumped from 4,900 feet below the ground. The hot spring reached degrees of 129 degrees Fahrenheit. The water of Moulay Yacoub is hyperthermal and particularly rich in mineral salts and Sulphur. The water is known to be medically beneficial to ear, nose & throat conditions and also as a treatment against chronic pains.
Cleopatra’s Pool is a man-made hot spring said to have been a gift from Marc Antony to Cleopatra. In the 7th century, a massive earthquake destroyed the Roman Temple to Apollo surrounding the pool, toppling the columns into the water, where they now remain for visitors to swim around. Cleopatra’s Pool is set within the well-preserved ancient Greek-Roman city of Hierapolis. For over a thousand years, people have been coming to this region to soak in the mineral-rich, geothermal waters. This particular hot spring is sometimes called a champagne pool, because of the bubbles that move through the water and dance across your skin.
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