The chalk-white cliffs and formations of Pamukkale, «Cotton Castles in Turkish, mark the site of the ancient city of Hierapolis. The build-up, over thousands of years, of mineraf deposits carried by the natural hot springs of Hierapolis has resulted in one of the most spectacular natural wonders of the world. These travertine formations are one of the highlights of a visit to Hierapolis, perched on a level above the plain of Çürüksu. Follow the signs to Pamukkale from Denizli. The site is some twenty kilometers from this district center. You will notice the white cliffs of Pamukkale long before arriving there.
Early colonization of Hierapolis is thought to have been initiated by the Pergamenes, under the rule and guidance of King Eumenes II. The city was named after Hiera, the wife of the legendary Telephos, founder of Pergamum. As part of the Kingdom of Perga-mum, Hierapolis came under the jurisdiction of the Roman empire in 133 B.C. The city was famous for the health-giving properties of its mineral waters and hot springs, and gained great popularity as a spa during the Roman period. The great earthquake of 17 A.D., which destroyed many of the ancient cities in Anatolia, also took its toll of Hierapolis. It was quickly rebuilt, largely through Roman participation, and experienced its most prosperous period during the second and third centuries, During the Byzantine era, the city became the seat of a diocese with a large Christian church dedicated to Saint Philip. Long after the city was named for Pergamene Queen Hiera, the word Hierapolis took on another meaning, «Templevilie». This is because of the extraordinary number of temples erected on the site. The exact number of these religious edifaces has not been determined since very little of the early history of the area has come down in written form. Modern excavations have revealed only one, the Temple of Apollo. Not much is known about the earliest settlers of Hierapolis other than that the area was controlled by the Seleucld Kings in the third century B:C. The Pergamum king gained control after the battle of Magnesia in the second century B.C. In 129 B.C., Hierapolis was united with the Province of Asia, and, later, the important title of Neocorus was bestowed upon the city by Emperor Caracalla.One of the city’s most famous citizens was the sophist Antipater He served as lecturer and educator to the imperial family of Septimius
Severus. Antipater’s pupils included Caracalla and Geta, later h’eirs to the Roman empire. The city itself was famous primarily as a spa and tourist resort during the Roman era, but it also distinguished itself in industry. The producta of Hierapolis were, for the most part, derived from the sheep industry. Carpet weaving, wool dyeing and other specialized crafts prospered in the city. A large number of guilds, merchants and traders were establishend in the city. Hierapolis was also famous for its marble. This was exported to all parts of the empire. Also, the tombs of copper workers, nail makers and a variety of other craftsmen have been found.’
The remaining monuments and ruins at Hierapolis are primarily those of Roman construction. Initial excavations were conducted under the auspices of a German archaeological mission in 1887, headed by C. Humann. The results and findings of these diggings were published under the «Altertümer yon Hierapolis», by the archaeologists Humann, Cichorius, Judeich and Winter. More recently, an ItoSian, Paolo Verzone, has conducted excavations at the site. The most striking discovery during the lat
Plan of Hierapoiis
The Roman Baths: The bath complex is the first structure to be encountered at the site. These are well-preserved with wide spanning arches that extend some sixteen meters. A separate section was reserved for the Roman emperor’s private use. The thick wails of the various bathing halls were originally covered with while marble slabs. To the eost of the baths Is the palaestra or excercise field, measuring 35×55 meters. Nearby is another large hall that was used for athletic and gymnastic events. From this room, the athletes could pass directly into the bath. The various halls of the complex are In a good state of preservation. These Include the Frigidarium and Caldarium. One of these rooms, with barrel-vaulted construction, now serves as o museum to display artifacts of the city. Many excellent sculptures of the school of Aphrcdisias that have been excavated at the site are on display. The baths are thought to have been constructed during the first century A.D.
Temple of Apollo : This temple, situated on the slope across from the theater, has been discovered and excavated in recent years. It was constructed during the third century A.D., and was dedicated to Apollo, the chief dlety of Hierapolis, The temple is approached by means of a set of broad steps, and is raised to a height of two and half meters on a supporting podium in the front. The back is resting on a solid rock foundation. The temple measures some twenty meters by fifteen, nearly square. The cella, also unusually shaped Is broader than long. A pronaos completes the building’s plan. The foundation of the temple Is thought to date back to the Hellenistic period, but the present remains, mostly reused materials, were assembled much later. To the right of the temple is the famed Plutonium. This consists of an opening in the side of the hill that Issues poisonous carbonic acid gases, thus prompting the Turks to call it the Cin Deliği, Devil’s Hole. The Plutonium, attributed to the god Pluto, consists of a wide chamber about three meters square with a wide fissure In the natural rack of the rear wall. Prom this gap the gas, along with a gushing stream of water, escapes from the earth.
The Theater: The second-century Roman theater to the east of the Temple of Apollo has been well preserved, it was restored by the Italian excavators. The cave is approximately one hundred meters in diameter; more than fifty rows of seats and eight stairways may be seen. Some of the decorative elements and friezes that originally adorned the stage area and façade may be seen at the site and at the museum in the bath complex.
The Nymphaeum : Just north of the temple Is the Nymphaeum or water depository. This building encloses a large water basin from which water was distributed to the city. A wide ledge was constructed * □round the building’s inner walls. Bellow this ore five recessed areas J with restangular-shaped niches. A water pipe connected to the city reservoir was attached to the middle-rear niche. The building was elaborately decorated with sculptures and friezes. Many of these may be seen both at the site and in the small museum.
The Necropolis ; Outside the city walls, which are well preserved with their large bastions, are the ancient burial grounds of Hierapolis. Among the tombs are the remains of a fifth-century Christian basilica built with three naves. This is thought to have been dedicated to the Apostle Philip who was martyred in this city around 80 A.D. Necropolis is one of the largest to be found in all of Anatolia, containing more than twelve hundred tombs and sarcophagi. Many of the epitaphs inscribed on the tombs call for the placement of wreaths and other memorial ceremonies to be practiced over the deceased. Of special interest are the Tumulus Tombs which were constructed □round the concept of a sunken, vaulted chamber.
Other ruins of Hierapolis: An octogonal building dating from the fifth century A.D. is known as the Martyrium of Saint Philip. Six long rooms open from the central chamber and are surrounded by □ number of small rooms. A wide stairway was added in the front that leads up to the level of the rooms. While this building was not used specifically as a church, special religious and commemorative services were held here on a variety of occasions. Excavations of the Martyrium have not uncovered the tomb of Saint Philip, however.
It is thought that the body may have been moved to another site.There remains a stretch of the main colonnaded street of Hierapolis near the area of the Christian basilica. This area was the center of the ancient city, and the street extended from the southern gate to the Arch of Domitian, outside the city walls in the northeaster diggings was the Plutonium negr the Temple of Apoilo, The best preserved of the ruins are the Roman Baths and the Theater.