It’s about 20 km north of Denizli and called a Holy City in Archeological literature because there were many temples and religious buildings in Hierapolis. The ancient city is situated between several historical areas. According to the ancient geographers, Strabon and Ptolemaios, Hierapolis was very close to Laodicea and Tripoli’s which was in Kario’s Border. That’s why it was a Phrygian City. There is no information about Hierapolis’ history before the Hellenistic Era, but we know there was a city there before then. It’s called Hierapolis because of its Mother goddess Cult.
Information about Hierapolis is limited. It is known that the king of Pergamum, Eumenes II, founded the city in 190 BC. It was named Hierapolis after the Amazon’s Queen Hiera, the wife of Telephos, the founder of Pergamum. (Pergamum is also called Pergamon or Pergamos).
Hierapolis was destroyed by the earthquake in 60 A.D. during the time of Roman Emperor Nero. During the reconstruction after the earthquake, the city lost its Hellenistic Style and became a typical Roman City. Right after the Roman period started, Hierapolis became an important center because of its commercial and religious position. In 80 A.D. St. Philip came to Hierapolis and was murdered by the Jewish inhabitants. The Turks conquered Hierapolis at the end of the 12th century A.D.
Ruins of Hierapolis:
Entrances and Main Street: The ancient city is divided by the main street which is about 1 km long. There are columnar governmental galleries on both sides. There are also monumental entrances at the beginning and at the end of the main street. The area is outside of the Byzantine city walls, because the gates, most of the main street, and most of the side streets were built in the Roman Period. The South Byzantine Gate on the south edge of the city is dated at 5 A.D. The well-preserved North Gate has two round towers and inscriptions in Greek and Latin honoring Emperor Domitian. That’s why the gate is also called the Domitian Gate. The gate was built in 82-83 A.D. by Julius Sextus Frontinus. The gate is also known as Frontinus Gate because of its architect. The entrance is situated where the city walls cross the street.
The temple is situated in a religious cave, which is called Plutonium. The oldest religious center of the local people is the place where Apollon met the mother goddess, Kybele. The poisonous gas of that cave did not affect the priest of Kybele. The temple’s foundation is dated to the late Hellenistic Period, but the rest of the temple is dated to the 3rd century A.D. There are significant steps at the Temple’s entrance.
Middle Age (Selcuk) Fortress:
The fortress is on the plateau which controls to the valley, consist of full rampart system on a strategically position. The walls were built with blocks from the ruins, even a lot of blocks were marble and contained inscriptions. In an excavation in one of the fortresses, a door, wide splits on ceiling and flor because of earthquake were brought to light. According to its material the fortress dated to the 9th and 13th century when there were conflicts between Byzantine and Selcuk. An important evidence is a coin dated to that period.
The city walls were built in accordance with a law issued in 396 AD. similar to other cities of the Roman Empire with walls on the north, south and east sides of the city. 24 square towers are placed along the city walls. There are 4 entrances, two with monumental gates and two more small gates. The grand gates are situated on the main street. Unfortunately, most of the city walls were destroyed by earthquakes.
It’s an enormous, well-preserved Greek style building, which is situated on a hillside. It is 91 meters high. The theater’s construction was started in 62 A.D. after the earthquake of 60 AD in the Flavius era. However, it was not completed in the Hadrian era. It was finally completed in the Severus Era in 206 A.D. The cavea is separated into 7 parts by 8 steps, and there are 50 seats. The Diozoma (a kind of passage) is in the middle of the cavea with a vomitorium with 2 vaults.
There are 10 columns in front of the kingdom box and orchestra, which are 3.66 meters high. The front door of the scene has 5 gates and 6 niches. The niches are behind the columns which are decorated with oyster shells and among the columns adorned with statues. Many statues were found during the excavations. There are marble embossments on the wall which is behind the scene.
St. Philip’s Martyrium:
It’s an octagonal building which is 20 m x 20 m. The Martyrium was built at the end of the 4th century and an early 5th century in honor of St. Philip who was murdered here.
There is a cathedral dated in the 6th or 7th century A.D., a columnar church, and two more churches. Moreover, the main hall of the Great Bath was transformed into a church. There are also small prayer rooms in the north part of the city.