Hierapolis Archaeological Site

Hierapolis Archaeological Site

Location: 19 km (12 mi) North of Denizli   Map

Tel. (0258) 272 20 77

Open: 8am- 5pm daily

8am- 7pm daily (summer)


Description of Hierapolis Archaeological Site

Hierapolis (Ancient Greek: Ἱεράπολις, lit. "Holy City") was originally a Phrygian cult centre of the Anatolian mother goddess of Cybele and later a Greek city. Its location was centred upon the remarkable and copious hot springs in classical Phrygia in southwestern Anatolia. Its extensive remains are adjacent to modern Pamukkale in Turkey.

The hot springs have been used as a spa since at least the 2nd century BC, with many patrons retiring or dying there as evidenced by the large necropolis filled with tombs, most famously that of Marcus Aurelius Ammianos, which bears a relief depicting the earliest known example of a crank and rod mechanism, and the Tomb of Philip the Apostle.

It was added as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988. In the archaeological site operates since 1957 the "Italian Archaeological Mission of Hierapolis of Frigia" (MAIER), currently directed by Grazia Semeraro, Professor of Classical Archaeology of the University of Salento.



During excavations carried out in 2016, evidence was found that settlement in the region began in the Iron Age. In the area where the city is located, there was a religious center dedicated to Cybele, the mother goddess of Anatolia, during the Phrygian period. This temple, which was originally used by the indigenous communities living in the Lykos (Çürüksu) valley, would later form the center of Hierapolis. When Greek colonists arrived and built the city on the pre-existing settlement pattern, the ancient cult of Cybele was gradually assimilated into Greek mythology.

Long before the time of Greek colonization, the region was seen as a gateway to the underworld and also a place to communicate with the underground gods, due to the poisonous gases emanating from a hot spring in a cave located here. With the assimilation process into Greek culture, the temple became associated with Hades (Pluto) and Persephone instead of Cybele, and the temple was named Plutonium.

Although information about the founding of the city is limited; During the Kingdom of Pergamon II. It is known that it was founded by Eumenes in the early 2nd century BC and was named Hierapolis after the Amazon queen Hiera, the wife of Telephos, the legendary founder of Pergamum. Hierapolis maintained its original texture by adhering to the Hellenistic urbanization principles until the great earthquake in 60 AD during the reign of Roman Emperor Nero.

Located on the earthquake zone, the city was greatly damaged by the earthquake of the Nero period and was completely renovated. After these earthquakes, the city lost all its Hellenistic character and took on the appearance of a typical Roman city. After the Roman period, Hierapolis became a very important center during the Byzantine period. This importance stems from the fact that it has been the center of Christianity (metropolis) since the 4th century AD, and that Philip, one of Jesus' apostles, was killed here in 80 AD.

Hierapolis, which came under Byzantine rule in 395 AD, became the center of the Diocese. Hierapolis remained within the borders of the Anatolian Seljuks towards the end of the 12th century. In the ancient city of Hierapolis; Necropolis, Domitian road and gate, Oktokonus temple placed in a square area, theatre, Frontinus street and gate, Agora, Northern Byzantine Gate, Southern Byzantine Gate, Gymnasium, Triton Fountain Building, Apollon Sanctuary, water channels and nymphaeums, Wall, Filipus Martynon and its bridge, Direkli Church, Necropolis Area, Cathedral and Roman Bath ruins.

Pamukkale has attracted tourists throughout history thanks to its underground waters (travertines), which are also used for therapeutic purposes.

The bath was built outside the city for travelers to wash themselves and enter the city.

Since the theater capacity is 9,500 people, the city population is estimated to be between 95,000-100,000.

It is understood from the design of the theater that gladiator fights were held here. There is a height difference of approximately one meter between the hollow section under the stage and the rows of seats to protect the audience from wild animals. In theaters where there are no gladiator fights, this difference does not exist, and the rows start from the stage level.

The Medusa figure carved at the entrance gate of the city was made to protect from the goddess Medusa. It is thought that this belief was transferred to Turkish culture as an evil eye bead. The city was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List as both natural and cultural heritage on 09.12.1988.


Ancient theater

It is a large building of Greek Theater type, leaning on a hillside, with a height of 300 feet (91 m) and its entire façade can be preserved. To its construction; It was started in 62 during the Flavian period, after a major earthquake in 60. It was under construction during the reign of Hadrian (117-137). The structure was completed in 206 during the Severus period.

There are 50 rows of seating in Cavea. These seating rows are divided into 7 sections by 8 stairs. Diozoma, which passes through the middle of the Cavea, is entered through a vaulted passage (vomitorium) on both sides. There are 5 doors and six niches on the 6-foot (3.66 m) high stage front wall surrounding the royal lodge and orchestra located in the middle of the cavea, and there are 10 columns in front of them. The marble columns are decorated with oyster shell-shaped motifs. Of the 3 columns lined up on top of each other that decorate the back wall behind the stage, the lower ones rise on octagonal bases and are unfluted.

As can be seen from their styles, the reliefs were made by different masters in different periods. It is possible to see the effects of Hellenistic period sculpture arts in crowded, active and lively figures, especially in scenes where mythological subjects are depicted. Some influence of the Pergamon school of art (Zeus Horses Reliefs) can be seen in these figures. The theater is very similar to the theaters of Perge, Side and Nyssa in terms of the decoration of the stage building with relief friezes.

Necropolises, which represent cemetery areas, gained a special importance after Hierapolis was named the 'Holy City'. Research conducted in these necropolises reveals all the religious beliefs of the period. These necropolises, which can be easily divided into wealthy or public graves according to the magnificence of their tomb structures, lie in the north and south direction of the city's main street. Their number is more than 2 thousand.



There are necropolis areas outside the city walls and in all directions outside the plain. These are mostly located on both sides of the northern road leading to Tripolis-Sardes and the southern road leading to Laodicea-Clossae. Limestone and marble were used in the graves. The use of marble is mostly seen in sarcophagus types.

Northern Necropolis: The fact that the monuments in the necropolis are well preserved and are located in a wide area with many travertine sarcophagi creates an impressive appearance. (There are more than two thousand of them, and the inscription in most of them bears the Greek word Soros Sufiksi.)

The architecture of Hierapolis tomb monuments is very diverse and shows different applications. The oldest tombs are Tumulus tombs dating back to the Hellenistic Period (II - I century BC). In these graves, the burial chamber is surrounded by a cylindrical drum made of properly cut stones and is covered with cone-shaped soil. The burial chamber is reached through the corridor called dramamos. The tumuli are located along the road and on the slope leading to the east.

These tombs mostly belong to elite families, while poor families are simple tombs carved into rocks. Located in the northern part of the city, I., mostly II. and III. Other tomb monuments, dating back to the 16th century, usually have gardens surrounded by walls and decorated with trees (mostly cypresses) and flowers. Grave monuments made entirely of travertine show different types: They range from a simple sarcophagus to more advanced forms, sometimes containing dead beds, with a triangular pediment or on a pedestal, carrying one or more sarcophagi, and sometimes reflecting house models. The inscription on the pedestal carrying the sarcophagi includes the Greek word bomos (stand, altar): It carries a symbolic meaning that glorifies the memory of the dead in connection with the body of the deceased standing high. These monuments have the same function as heroon. (Funeral monuments built to celebrate the deification of heroes or important people in history after their death.)

Southern Necropolis: Impressive traces of the earthquake can be seen on the right. The wide travertine plain has been completely turned upside down. Rectangular pit graves and traces of a quarry belonging to a simple and perhaps older necropolis attract attention. During the excavations, Denizli Museum experts found a tomb structure with bomos with long inscriptions. Nearby, there is a tumulus tomb dating back to the Young Hellenistic Period, and marble stelae with inscriptions were found next to it. Excavations continue in the north of the area, and marble sarcophagi with figures were found in the tomb structures on the slope where the Byzantine walls are located. These sarcophagi stand on a stone base. The roof, which is raised with adobe bricks, is covered with tiles. This type constitutes an innovation. The interior of the tomb structure is decorated with multicolored frescoes. As you move south towards the Gate, which may belong to Frontinus, you encounter other tomb structures belonging to the necropolis on the road leading to Laodicea and Colossea.

The tomb of Tiberius Cladius Talamos, mentioned in the long inscription, attracts attention. Its façade reflects the architecture of the house, with half-columned Doric pilasters, stone lattice windows, an architrave, an inscribed frieze and a tooth-cut Ionic entablature, as in Blaundos. It reminds us of Frontinus Street only in terms of architectural arrangement. In the buildings on Frontinus Street, the Doric order naturally shows itself in the capitals as well as in the triglyph-metope frieze entablature.


Ancient Pool

The Ancient Pool is one of the most important symbols of Pamukkale. It is considered one of the few pools in the world, especially with its water that is beneficial to health. This pool, where thousands of people swim every year, is also good for many diseases. Especially during the Roman Empire Period, Hierapolis and its surroundings were a complete health center. In those years, thousands of people came to the more than 15 baths built in and around the city to regain their health. The ancient pool that forms today is AD VII. It is the earthquake that occurred in the century. The portico, built in the Ionic order (1st century AD) belonging to the civil agora located next to the columned street, collapsed into the pool that formed within the fracture that occurred as a result of this earthquake.

In addition to having a relaxing effect due to the temperature of the water, the Antique Pool is also effective in curing many diseases. According to research on this subject, the water of the Ancient Pool is very good for heart disease, arteriosclerosis, blood pressure, rheumatism, skin, eye, rickets, paralysis, nerve and vascular diseases, and when drunk, it is very good for spasmodic stomachs. This clearly reveals the reason why health centers have been constantly established around the Ancient Pool since the Roman Period.


Cleopatra Pool

The water temperature in the thermal pool is 36 °C - 57 °C, PH value is 5.8, and radon value is 1480 piccocuri/liter. Thermal spring waters have bicarbonate, sulfate, calcium, carbon dioxide, partially iron and radioactive composition. At the same time, the waters here are suitable for bathing and drinking cures and have a dissolved mineral value of 2430 MG / liter.

The Temple of Apollo, which has managed to survive by preserving all its magnificence from centuries ago to the present day, was built on Plutonion, known as an old and religious cave. Among the ruins remaining from the temple, the marble stairs and the walls with inscriptions describing the prophecy of Apollo are among the most important works worth seeing. These lands, which have hosted many civilizations, have also contributed to the development of religious tourism.


Apollon temple

 The current Temple was built on Plutonion, known as the ancient and religious cave. In this place, which is the oldest religious center of the local people, Apollo met with Kybele, the mother goddess of the region. Ancient sources report that the priest of the Mother Goddess Kybele descended into this cave and was not affected by the poisonous gas. The ruins of the superstructure in the Temple of Apollo date back to AD III. Although it does not date back to the 11th century, the foundations date back to the Late Hellenistic Period.

The 70-meter-long Temple, known from its marble entrance steps, is located within the sacred area surrounded by the temenos wall. The temenos wall leans on the portico, some of which have been excavated, in the south, west and north. The Doric fluted half-columns of the marble portico carry column capitals decorated with astragals and strings of pearls, and echinus with strings of eggs.

The temple dates back to a later period, but the two exquisite ion-one Corinthian capitals and some architectural pieces in the museum date back to the 1st century AD and indicate the existence of a temple dating back to earlier times. Apart from the marble staircase that has survived from the Temple of Apollo, there is a podium covered with marble slabs and molded cornices. Its facade is decorated with two antes and two columns between them. Its dating can be done thanks to the inscribed blocks used on the antes and headings, on the cella wall and on the floor. An inscription belonging to the prophecy of Apollo is read on one of them. According to the architectural decorations, the temple dates back to AD III. It dates back to the century.

On the staircase behind the temple, an area filled with pieces taken from the Temple of Apollo, column bodies, architrave pieces, capitals and pedestals can be seen. In this structure, BC IV. A fine female statue with pleated clothes, which renewed the sculpture schemes of the 19th century, was found. As can be understood from the inscription; Apphia, daughter of Zeuxis, was dedicated to the imperial gods and Demos (personification of the people of Hierapolis).

The 1 km long Street, one end of which extends to the Domitian Gate, named after the Emperor Domitian, in the north, and the other end to the South Roman Gate in the south, are among the most important historical monuments worth seeing. The street, with columned porticoes and public buildings on both sides, divides the city into two from one end to the other. In addition, the gates at the street entrances and exits are the best examples of a huge civilization that still carries its history on its shoulders.


Street and gates

The city's most important and wide main street, which is approximately 1 km long, divides the city into two from one end to the other. There are porticoes with columns and important public buildings on both sides of this street, which extends in the north-south direction. There are monumental gates at both ends. The gates look like triumphal arches, are arched and have towers on their sides. Frontinus Gate: It forms the monumental entrance gate of the city in the Roman Period. Located at the beginning of the 14-meter-wide main street, the gate is located at the opposite end of the South Gate and the main road that passes the settlement and leads to Laodicea and Collosai. The three-arched entrance of the gate is built of smooth travertine blocks and is decorated with a simple cornice. It also leans on round towers that remind us of the gate tradition of the Hellenistic Period.

There is an inscription written in Latin and Greek, dedicated to Emperor Domitian, on the frieze of the well-preserved gate in the north, which has three eyes and round towers on both sides. Because of this inscription, it is called Domitian's Gate or Roman Gate. The door was opened by Julius Sextus Frontinüs, Proconsul of Asia, I.S. It is known that it was built in 82-83. For this reason, the gate is also called the Frontinus Gate. Where the road leading south from this gate intersects with the city wall, there is the Northern Byzantine Gate, dating back to the 5th century AD.

South Roman Gate: The gate opens to the hill descending towards the Lykos River, is located right opposite the large Honaz Mountain, and has a delightful view of all shades of blue, especially at sunset. The door was made of travertine blocks and reused materials, including marble. It is leaning on two rectangular planned towers.

Northern Byzantine Gate: The Northern Gate, which was included in the city wall system of the city of Hierapolis built during the Theodosius period (end of the 4th century AD), symmetrically to the Southern Gate, constitutes the monumental entrance of the city during the Byzantine Period. The gate, built with spolia material taken from the ruins of the Agora, was supported by two square-plan towers. On both sides of the entrance, four consoles decorated with lion, panther and gorgo heads standing apotropaically to protect the city from bad influences have survived to the present day.

South Byzantine Gate: It was built in the 5th century AD. It was made with travertine blocks and reused materials including marble. Like the gate in the north, it leans on two quadrangular towers and is shaped with a relief arch on a single-piece architrave.



Hierapolis, which has a religious importance, also attached great importance to cleanliness in ancient times. They built baths at the entrances and exits of the city so that travelers would be clean when they entered the city. There are 3 baths in Hierapolis. Among these baths, the Bath Church has been well preserved until today. Byzantine Bath VII. It was destroyed in the great earthquake that occurred in the century. The Great Bath is today's Archaeological Museum.


Bath church

This very old building dates back to the middle of the Imperial Age. Large arches on the side walls of this building, built of travertine rectangular blocks, can be seen. It has an architecture comparable to the vaulted Great Bath structure in the center of the city. Bath structure VI. It was reorganized as a church in the 1st half of the century, when Hierapolis became the capital of Phrygia Pacatiana. In this building, which was converted into a church, they used the wall of a place located to the north of the entrance to surround a four-column pot. The entrance of the church, which is formed with two large arches, leans against another small door with an arch, as in the Byzantine Gate. In the large space, which is preserved in good condition, there are 6 niches formed by arches. Walls carrying these arches were added and vaulted passages were created with passages opening to the walls.


Byzantine Bath

It dates back to a period immediately after the construction of the Sur system. The structure was built on the ruins of the southern stoa of the Agora. The bath building is located right after the gate and nymphaeum at the entrance of the city, and this building, built for public use, is separated from the walls by a narrow road. An apsidal space is interpreted as a calidarium with a plaster pool and hypocaust system. The roof of the place unearthed during the excavations should have been covered with a brick dome, according to the fragments we found in ruins. With the completion of the excavation of this building, important information will be obtained about the typology of the public baths of the Imperial Period in the transition to the bath structures of the Islamic world in the Middle Ages. According to archaeological data, the structure was built in the VII century, which destroyed the entire city. It was abandoned after the earthquake in the 19th century.


Big Bath

The Great Bath structure, where the Hierapolis Archaeological Museum is located today, is located in the southwest of the city, in an area opening to travertine channels. After the great earthquake in 60 AD during the reign of Nero, in order to benefit from an important water source during the construction activities in the city, II. It was built in the century. The water from the source still passes over the ruins of this bath before flowing into the valley.

The bath is a stone work of local workers who were skilled in working with travertine, which is abundant in the region. Due to the limestone-forming power of flowing water, the structure, whose original base is buried under 4 meters of limestone today, has been preserved in two places and repairs have been made in the others. The spaces used as museums today were heated by a hypocaust system in ancient times. Excavations and restoration works are carried out by the Turkish Ministry of Culture, General Directorate of Monuments and Museums to find the original floors of the places. In the Middle Ages, Roman Period spaces were changed, divided by walls and spread all the way to the road.

From the 10th century AD to the 12th century. In the period up to the 11th century, the settlement and its influence exceeded that of ancient times. The glazed doors, many of which were imported, found during excavations from the Byzantine and Seljuk periods, draw attention to the wealth of those who used the bath in this period. At the end of the 18th century, the columns mentioned by Choisy, one of which is covered with a ribbed barrel vault roof, can be observed. New excavations in Hall T have brought to light an original space with an apse and three large windows bordered by a cornice on the west side.

Typical Roman architectural solutions were generally used on the side facades of the spaces, with quadrangular or round planned spaces enlivening the interior, and the building was decorated with marble statues showing the power of Rome. The largest space, D, measures 20X32 meters and on its long side there are three exedrae, one of which is quadrangular and the other is semicircular in plan. The exedrae are covered with decorated arches and decorated stuccos. In the decorations, sea shell motifs in the middle and volute, leaf and flower motifs on the edges can be recognized. The walls must have been covered with multicolored marble slabs, as can be seen from the metal clamp holes seen on their surfaces. At the entrance, there is a door on two legs and a space with stairs leading to the roof of the building. The large area to the east of this section is reserved for the palestra. The large rectangular spaces opening onto the palestra have columned facades made of local, white and pink stained bresten.