After strolling around the gorgeous turquoise pools of Pamukkale, let’s go further to the ancient city which is definitely different to others in Turkey. This ancient city named Hierapolis, which literally means “Holy City”, is just located on the top of Pamukkale where is high enough to see Denizli town in 20 km distance and the Hierapolis was totally destructed after several earthquakes. Later, its ruins were designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The uniqueness of this ancient city was a leisure place for retiring patrons who wished to die there peacefully and happily, hence this city is famous for the largest necropolis (an ancient cemetery with elaborate tomb monuments) in Anatolia area where is filled with 1,200 sarcophagi (a decorative container in which a dead body was placed in ancient times). There are also the great baths constructed with huge stone blocks without the use of cement and consisted of various closed or open sections linked together.
Hierapolis was a Greco-Roman and Byzantine influenced style and had been colonized by the Roman Empire since 133 BC. In the year 60, there was ever more severe earthquake left the city completely in ruins. But the city revived the most during 196-215 AD and gradually declined in the 6th century due to flood and later became a part of Pamukkale eventually.
Here is my personal experience about travelling like a local in this trip. I found myself very fortunate to know Mr. August, a Turkish guy who stayed at the same hotel in Pamukkale. The language barrier seemed not to be our problem during we traveled together as he usually said “No problem!” haha and he also owned the car while I can exchange with taking a photo of him and lending him some clothes. I would say this was such a perfect combination to have a nice buddy like him!
Well, let’s begin exploring the vast area of Hierapolis. The ruin sites were divided into 2 sections; the first one near the entrance called Necropolis and another one near the old theater.
If you spot a bunch of people near the entrance looking at the ruin of something neither big nor small, that was the Necropolis which the tomb monuments of famous people in ancient erarested here.You can choose whether walking around or catching a white shuttle service (2 TL.) which will take you to the antique pool nearby Pamukkale. I would recommend strolling along the ruins first and then riding a shuttle on the way back.
Baths and Church
As Hierapolis was the dream place for healing springs, several baths were built in this ancient city. This spot was a medium sized bath with the church where you can also notice the cotton castle on the right side along this area.
Arch of Domitian
The entrance of Hierapolis starts from the Domitian Gate which was close to the northern city gate and following with the main street which ran from north to south close to a cliff with the travertine terraces.
Frontinus Street and Latrine
Next to the city gate, you can walk a bit further on this 14-meter street and will notice the public travertine latrine on the left which the disposal system was through the underground pipe. In the past, there were houses, shops, storages and market on both sides along the street.
The North Byzantine Gate
The gate was built symmetrically to the south of the city in late 4th century and marked as the border of the north Byzantine in that period. The gate was constructed from the reused material from the demolition of the Agora flanked by two square towers and luxuriously decorated by a circle with the symbol of ancient cross.
The Nymphaeum of Triton
Nymphaum was situated inside the sacred area in front of the Apollo temple where dated from the 2nd century AD. It was built as a shrine of the nymphs and there was also the monumental fountain distributing water supply to the houses in the city via an innovative of pipe network.
After visiting the Nymphaum, walking a bit further you will see the cross street. If you walk up the hill, it will lead you to the Theater. For a convenient route, you just go straight on the way to the antique pool and you will see the ruin of the Roman Bath which was built in the 1st century AD.
Another highlight in the archaeological site of Hierapolis is the Antique Pool where is open from 8:00-19:00 every day for free admission where you can rest for a while and experience drinking the healing spring for free as well. I would say that it tasted more or less the same as soda! But if you would like to dip yourself into the crystal clear turquoise pool, just pay for 32 TL. (Adult) / 13 TL. (Child). The amazing thing in the pool was the marble portico with Ionic arrangement found in the pool due to the earthquake in the 7th century AD.
Hierapolis Archaeology Museum
The museum has adopted one of the biggest buildings of the Roman Bath as the site of the Hierapolis Archaeology Museum since 1984. It is open from 9:00-18:30 every day with the admission fee of 5 TL. There are some artifacts from Laodiceia, Colossae, Tripolis, Attuda and other towns of the Lycos (Çürüksu) valley. In addition to these, the museum has a large section devoted to artifacts found at Beycesultan Hüyük including some of the most beautiful examples of Bronze Age craft. The museum’s exhibition space consists of three closed areas of the Hierapolis Bath and open areas in the eastern side where used to be the library and the gymnasium in the past.