An immense white cotton castle with beneficial thermal waters and mysterious legends. The city of Hierapolis sits atop the natural park’s thermal waterfalls Pamukkale, in Turkey South-western. Every year millions of visitors discover this ancient pearl rich in history.
Hierapolis, the cotton castle
Pamukkale is among the best known and most spectacular places in all of Turkey: a huge white rock formation that thins out on the valley floor, forming hundreds of pools of turquoise water, as if it were the embroidery of a white dress. Right here, on the top of the Pamukkale hill, we find Hierapolis, one of the most important cities of ancient Asia Minor. The archaeological site, which can be visited today, with the white limestone hill deposited by the waters over the course of 400,000 years from the gushing of the mineral springs, was included among the Unesco World Heritage Sites in 1988. Hierapolis was founded by the Attalidi kings of Pergamum at the end of the 2nd century BC before being conquered by the Romans in 133 AD Just under the Roman rule it became a thriving spa center. How important the city was during the Roman Empire is evident in the magnificent travertine ruins of the ancient city: the imposing entrance gate, the one kilometer long colonnaded main street, and the amphitheater.
What to see in Hierapolis
Today, Hierapolis is one of the most visited tourist destinations in Turkey, with around 1.5 million visitors a year coming here to admire the Classical Age ruins and Pamukkale Falls. THE remains of the sacred city they occupy almost the whole hill. Here you will find the commercial agora, the Frontino’s door, two large public nymphaeums, the magnificent amphitheater which today, after the restoration, can still accommodate 7,000 spectators, and the necropolis. You walk through history, among the remains of the cathedral of ancient Hierapolis, with the baptistery, the pillared basilica and on the eastern hill, the martyrion of St. Philip the apostle.
Thermal waters: pools embraced by history
The main tourist attractions, in this site of rare beauty, are represented by the limestone dunes and the hot thermal waters that flow in the midst of the ruins. In addition to the famous white terraces with the natural pools of Pamukkale mineral hot water it is possible take a bath at the spa, in a swimming pool embraced by history. Swim among the ancient ruins, in themineral water at 35 degrees, it is an exciting and very suggestive experience. According to the various scholars who took turns to discover Hierapolis, it is the thermal waters that are the reason why the city was founded.
The mysterious legend of the “Gate of Hell”
Hierapolis was known throughout the Roman world, not only for its commercial importance and its potentially healing waters, but for the tragic stories that were told and handed down. It was said to be the position of a “Gate of Hell“, A portal to the underworld where the toxic breath of a Cerberus three-headed kill victims unaware of the terrible fate, like sacrifice to the god Pluto. In the writings of Pliny the Elder and the Greek Strabo, these sacrifices were described as a terrifying sight. The reason lies in the high concentration of carbon dioxide around an area of the sanctuary: a stream of water loaded with minerals and harmful gases runs just below the city center and into the Ploutonion, Hierapolis’ legendary bullring. Today the Plutonion it is walled up and can be visited from a distance, on a walkway around the site, which allows you to admire the ancient ruins without getting too close to the source of the deadly gas.