Hierapolis Ancient City

Ancient City Of Hierapolis
Hierapolis is an ancient city located on the top of Pamukkale and is a World Heritage site. There is a mixture of Pagan, Roman, Jewish and early Christian influences. Since the hot springs of Pamukkale were used as a spa since the 2nd century, people came to Hierapolis to soothe their ailments and often retire and die. The ruins sprawl over a large area and there is a large necropolis filled with sarcophagi.

The baths were made from large stone blocks and there are various open and closed areas linked together. The complex was constructed in the 2nd century and there are few historical facts known about the origin of the city. Many of the statues were transported to museums across the world and in 1970 a museum was built onsite.


The Roman Theatre was built over two stages; the first theatre was destroyed by an earthquake, so the second was hollowed out of a slope in the mountain. Most of the stage is still visible, as well as some decorative panels and VIP seating areas. At full capacity, the theatre could hold 12,000 – 15,000 people. The theatre is divided by eight vertical passageways and nine aisles. The theatre is constantly undergoing excavation projects and new relics and statues depicting mythological figures are continually being discovered.

The Temple of Apollo had an oracle and was tended by priests. The source of inspiration for the Temple was the Plutonium spring located nearby, which gave off toxic vapours. The priests would use this to their advantage by demonstrated the potency of the mythological Hades, by sacrificing small animals into the Plutonium.
Only the foundations of the original Temple of Apollo remain. A new Temple was built in the 3rd century using a Roman style. The marble was recycled form the Temple of Apollo, but again, only the foundations remain.

The Plutonium, located next to the Temple of Apollo, is the oldest local sanctuary and acted as a shrine to the god of the underworld; Pluto. It is a small cave, large enough for one person to enter, there are stairs leading down, where underground geological activity causes the emission of toxic carbon dioxide. There is also fast-flowing hot water, with a potent smelling gas. Since people died from the toxic gas, it was thought that the god of the underworld was sending this gas to kill people. In the early years, priests crawled over, holding they're breath or by locating pockets of oxygen. This was seen as a miracle to the people and the priests were infused with superior powers and divine protection.

The Nymphaeum is a shrine of the nymphs, a fountain which distributed water to houses throughout the city, using a network of pipes. It is designed in a U-shape, with statues and shops around it, now only two side walls remain. The Nymphaeum had these retaining walls, which blocked the Christians view of the Pagan Temple.

The Necropolis extends over two kilometres and is one of the best-preserved in Turkey. There is around 1200 tombs, constructed from limestone, which dates back to the Hellenic period. There are also a number of Roman and Christian tombs. In the ancient time, Hierapolis was a place of healing, however, the large number of necropolis suggest there were mixed results.

The graves are designed to represent the importance in the community, there are four types;

1. Simple graves for common people
2. Sarcophagi for the wealthy, with most being decorated in marble, with inscriptions indication the name, profession and praising the good deeds of the deceased.
3. Circular Tumuli again for wealthy, with vaulted chambers.
4. Family graves, with the vaulted chamber, monuments and small temples.

This Martyrium was constructed in the name of St Philip, one of Christ’s twelve disciples.  It is believed that St Philip was martyred here and is buried in the centre of the building.  The arches of the eight individual chapels are marked with crosses and the views from here are amazing.

Related Destinations

Aphrodisias Hierapolis Ancient City Laodicea Pamukkale Kaklik Cave Karahayit Red Springs