Journey through Time: Discovering Hierapolis, Turkey’s Ancient Hidden Gem
Turkey, a country rich in cultural diversity, has long been celebrated as a crossroads between East and West, where ancient civilizations have left their indelible marks. Among its many historical treasures, one often remains hidden in plain sight – Hierapolis ancient city. Nestled near modern-day Denizli, Hierapolis offers a captivating exploration of the past, making it an unmissable destination for any avid history buff or cultural traveler planning to visit Hierapolis ancient city.
Delving Into Hierapolis Ancient City History
Founded by Eumenes II, the King of Pergamon in the 2nd century B.C, myth and history have the Hierapolis. It was famous throughout the ancient world for its thermal springs, whose healing properties were thought to be a gift from the gods.
Over time, a succession of Romans, Byzantines, and Seljuks transformed Hierapolis into a vibrant city, which later grew in popularity as a spa town. The tales of Hierapolis history are into its ancient stones, awaiting curious explorers.
Exciting Things to Do in Hierapolis Ancient City
From traversing the remains of ancient structures to indulging in a soothing dip in the travertine pools. Here’s a comprehensive list of things to do in Hierapolis that guarantee a fulfilling historical journey.
Wandering the Hierapolis Ruins
Among the most engaging things to do in Hierapolis is to embark on a journey through its magnificent ruins. The Hierapolis ruins are an archaeologist’s dream, showcasing the city’s long history and cultural heritage.
These ruins bear witness to the city’s past glory. You walk among the remnants of Roman baths, Byzantine walls, and a vast necropolis filled with sarcophagi. Every stone in the Hierapolis ruins has a story to tell, offering you a glimpse into ancient lives and civilizations.
Discovering the Hierapolis Temples
Standing testament to the city’s religious significance are the Hierapolis temples. The Temple of Apollo stands as a marvel of ancient architecture, shrouded in riveting mythology and surrounded by the Plutonium. It is a site for the God of the Underworld. Despite being partially destroyed by an earthquake, the temple remains an awe-inspiring sight and a must-visit when exploring Hierapolis.
Beholding the Hierapolis Amphitheater
The Hierapolis Amphitheater is another breathtaking monument that dominates the city’s skyline. With a seating capacity for over 15,000 spectators, the amphitheater’s grandeur is a testament to Hierapolis’ prosperous era under Roman rule.
The detailed friezes that adorn the stage building depict mythological scenes, offering a snapshot into the city’s rich cultural past. Watching a sunset from this vantage point is an unforgettable experience adding to the list of unique things in Hierapolis.
Relaxing in the Hierapolis Ancient City Pools
After a day filled with historical exploration, nothing beats the pleasure of relaxing in Hierapolis’ famous travertine pools. Pamukkale, known as the ‘Cotton Castle,’ is a natural spectacle with dazzling white calcite shelves cascading down the slope, filled with warm, mineral-rich waters.
These terraces overlook the ruins, providing a stunning blend of natural and historical beauty. Don’t miss the opportunity to unwind in these warm waters, mirroring the ancient Romans’ spa experiences.
Immersing in Local Culture around The Ancient Ruins
While its historical attractions are undoubtedly enthralling, your visit to Hierapolis would not be complete without immersing yourself in the local culture.
Sample the delicious Turkish cuisine, explore the vibrant local marketplaces for unique souvenirs, and interact with friendly locals to gain insights into their traditions and lifestyles. By the end of your trip, you’ll not only have explored an ancient city but also experienced the warm hospitality that Turkey is known for.
Plutonion: The Gate of Underworld
Recent excavations (2011-2014) have brought to light one of the most famous sanctuarşes in Asia Minor, dedicated to the god of the Underworld, Pluto, and his bride Proserpine. Ancient writers( strabo, Cassius Dio, Damascius etc.) describe the rites performed in front of this cave. Thermal spring waters flowed and dangerous gases (carbon dioxide) were emitted.
For these reasons, the cave was considered the entrance of the underworld. Here bulls were sacrificed by causing them to be asphyxiated by the fumes. The sanctuary has two basins for spring waters flanking a circular marble building (tholos).
The entrance to the cave, surmounted by an arch bearing a dedicatory inscription in Greek to Pluto and Kore, The kings of the Underworld, came alive again in 2014 by the Italian Archeological Mission with.
Above the cave, there is a theater with travertine seating from which worshippers could watch the rites and sacrifices of bulls. They didn’t let the worshippers to decend to the area in front of the cave. Various sculptures of the Underworld like the colossal statue of Pluto (3.50 meter height), two statues of serpents and the statue of Cerberus which is a three headed dog that guarded the entrance await the visitors.
Hierapolis, Turkey, is more than an archaeological site. It’s a historical tapestry woven with captivating stories of civilizations past. From the grand amphitheater and mystical temples to the alluring ruins and tranquil travertine pools, Hierapolis offers a glimpse into an ancient world, frozen in time.
It’s not just about visiting Hierapolis; it’s about embarking on a journey through time that leaves you with lasting memories and a profound appreciation of Turkey’s rich history.
So, pack your bags and lace-up your walking shoes for an unforgettable adventure in Hierapolis. One of Turkey’s most extraordinary historical attraction awaits you.
How to Get to Hierapolis Ancient City
Reaching Hierapolis, located near modern Denizli, Turkey, is fairly straightforward with numerous travel options available.
The closest airport to Hierapolis is Denizli Cardak Airport, approximately 70km away. Many airlines operate regular flights to Denizli from Istanbul. Once you land at the airport, you can hire a taxi or take a shuttle bus to reach Pamukkale, where Hierapolis is located.
If you prefer scenic journeys, consider taking the train. There are daily services from Izmir and Ankara to Denizli. Once you reach Denizli, you can take a minibus to Pamukkale, a short 20km trip.
For those who enjoy road trips, renting a car would be a great option. The roads in Turkey are generally in good condition, and the route has enough signs. The drive from Istanbul to Pamukkale takes around 5 hours. Here is the google maps link of the historical attraction.
Getting Around in Hierapolis
Once you reach Pamukkale, getting around Hierapolis is best to see everywhere on foot due to its archaeological nature. The site is quite expansive, so make sure to wear comfortable shoes. Guided tours are also available, offering detailed insights into the history of this fascinating ancient city.