Hierepolis, Holy City

I came to the ancient city of Hierepolis next to Pamukkale which is famous for its white travertines 15 minutes away from Denizli. However, every time I came from Denizli by entering the South Gate from a slightly complicated area I started to visit the city. The ruins on the one hand, travertines on the one hand, museum, pool, blah blah, while the attention is distracted by the ancient city was difficult to understand.

This time, in terms of Izmir, I came to the city from the North Gate and came to the city a little less used secondary roads and I could understand the city much better. If you have a choice, I would prefer to enter through the North Gate, not the main gate in the South. However, like most visitors, if you entered through the south door, I suggest you read the article from end to end.🙂

When you enter through the North Gate, you can start your trip from a very quiet area and approach the city as close to the experience of a Roman traveler. In general, the Roman cities of the necropolis outside the city walls, ie a road passing through the cemeteries and inside or outside the walls, but just by a bath near the stop was entered. I don’t know if a visit to the baths was a necessity, as some say. If it is thought that epidemics were the biggest nightmare of the cities at that time and these diseases were generally carried by people traveling from the city to the city, it may be necessary that all passengers should be thoroughly washed and cleaned before entering the city.

In the meantime, a new welcome structure was being built to the North Gate in order to balance the majestic porch on the South Gate. A welcome complex of cubic, wood-clad masses… although I try to keep it on the proper scale, I don’t think it’s necessary to build that much.

In recent times, many welcome structures similar to the ancient city began to be built. Perge, Hierepolis, Metropolis recently made and examples that come to mind first. Although these welcome structures are actually useful because they increase the quality of service and the comfort of the trip, they may sometimes suffer from over-structuring and sometimes not being able to get the aesthetics. It seems to be the right decision to settle for a minimum structure in such areas.

A beautiful animation of Hierapolis. North Gate on the left, South Gate on the right.

Before entering the city, let me briefly mention its name and history. Ekrem Akurgal said, “The city was ruled by Pergamon II. It is thought to have been founded by Eumenes and named after Hierapolis because of the wife of the legendary founder of Pergamon, Telera, wife era (Akurgal 2000). However, as I have seen in a few other sources, I think that the name of the city comes from the on hieron gelen which means “holy yani.

Some like Akurgal II. Although Eumenes claims that Lysimakhos, one of the generals of Alexander the Great, founded the city during the Hellenistic period, sources agree. But before it was established as a city, there are clues that it was a settlement or cult center. As we shall discuss later, the characteristics that ancient and older people could easily relate to the gods, such as caves and travertines, where toxic gases emerge from the underground, which would later become the Hades sanctuary, support the idea that this place was used as a cult area long before urbanization. However, since the city had a lot of earthquakes, there is hardly any trace of these early periods. All the buildings seen today are Roman buildings.

Both the thermal and religious point of attraction and the fact that Anatolia (as it was called Asia at the time) was on a trade route where important cities were lined on the east-west axis should be the bodies of the wealth of Hierapolis.Finally, let us add what Strabon, the Father of Geography, wrote about Hierapolis in his famous book Geographika:

Mes When Mesogis, which is between the Carians and Nysa, is crossed, some cities are reached. Nysa is on the other side of Maiandros (Menderes River), which extends to Kibyratis and Kabalis. First, there is Hierapolis, near Mesogis, opposite Laodikeia.

There are hot springs and Plutonion. Both of these are extraordinary. The water of the springs freezes and becomes so stony that people make monolithic stone fences by pouring this water into the pits.

As for Plutonion: At the foot of a high hill, which is part of the mountain, there is a medium-sized pit that only one person can pass through, the depth is quite high, and this pit is covered with a rectangular fence around half a plethron. This place is so full of dense and misty steam that one can hardly see the ground. For anyone approaching the fence, the air is harmless, because steam does not come out in calm air; but any animal passing through the railing immediately dies. The bulls stuck there fall and die.

I threw pigeons in, they died right away. But the castrated Wales (Kybek Priests) enter easily, approach the pit, hang down, and even hold their breath, so that they go down to a certain depth. Could it be the cause of this immunity, such as being disabled (eunuch) or just living around the temple, or having certain physical forces used as an antidote to vapor or an omnipotence?

The waters of the rivers in Laodicea are said to have turned into stone, although their water is potable. The water in Hierapolis is exceptionally suitable for wool dyeing. Root dyed wool is superior to red and purple dyed wool. Water is abundant here and the city has lots of natural pools and baths. Str (Strabon, 2000)

Hierapolis, which was evident in the Roman period and was a rich city, was an important and holy city during Christianity. It was believed that around 80 AD Filippus, one of the apostles of Jesus Christ, was killed here and martyrdom built in his name made this place a center of the cross. I was very keen to go to this martyron structure, but I couldn’t go either from timelessness or tiredness, because it was always the last. Now on a next trip…

If we return to the trip again, as I said, we approach the city like a passenger during the Roman period. We are walking along a road leading through the Necropolis, the area of ​​the cemeteries.

The road from the Northern Necropolis towards the city.

Northern Necropolis

The Northern Necropolis of Hierepolis is one of the most spectacular grave sites I have visited. They say there are over two graves here. Not only the number, but also the species and their protection status are impressive. It is possible to see different species from early tumuli to sarcophagi, from house-shaped monumental tombs to rock tombs. In addition, sarcophagi placed on high podiums created extremely interesting images. Okay, sarcophagi are common on the catwalk, but not like the ones here.

Monumental tombs and tumuli.
Sarcophagi in different places. The first is the usual way in a tomb structure. The second is on a private podium with a beautiful staircase. But all right, what is the third öyle


After the cemetery, the road brings us to the North Bath, which is one of the largest buildings in the city, or Hamam-Church or in other words Hamam-Basilica. We learn about this structure from the sign in the field:
Hamam The bath structure, which belongs to the beginning of the 3rd century AD, was converted into a church by creating a nave in the middle of the 6th century AD. The fault line passing under the rear wall of the building and the earthquake caused this wall to lie down. In order to show the earthquake traces of this wall, consolidation works are continuing. ”This structure also witnesses the differentiation of social life along with Christianity. Baths, which are one of the centers of the social life of the Roman cities as well as the most important structure of architecture, are being closed and transformed together with Byzantium. While nudity and bathing are moving from a public act to an intimate act, these gigantic structures are often transformed into churches. 

The magnificent vaults of Hamam-Basilica.

Frontinus Gate

After bathing, we are ready to enter the city. Here we are greeted by a glorious door, which is in good condition: the Frontinus Gate. During the Roman period, this gate, which dates back to the end of the 1st century AD, was built of travertine, just like any other building in the city. There are high cylindrical towers on both sides of the three-span gate with interiors entered by the city. 
From the inscription on the door, it is understood that the Asian Proconsul (like its governor) was built by Julius Frontinus and was devoted to Emperor Domitian. The inscription, the fragments of which are in the museum today, says:
Parator Emperor Domitian Caesar Augustus Germanicus, pontifex maximus, the fourth highest public servant, twelfth consul, father of the homeland, Proconsul Sextus Julius Frontius built the gate, towers and road. Inşa (Yazıcı, 2014)
Frontinus Street
Frontinus Street starts with the porch spaces where only some columns remain today. There is a sewerage system under the street which is 14 meters in width. 
It is said that the street is below the limestone layer of 2 meters high before the archaeological excavations started and therefore it is in a relatively good condition. 
There were probably shops on both sides of this street which is the main street of the city in Roman period. But at the beginning of the street, as soon as you enter through the door, there is a rather large latrina on the right, that is, a public toilet. 
Latrina consists of two longitudinal spaces separated by a row of columns in the middle. The seating rows are no longer present, but water channels can be noticed on the floor. 
Part of the street was left outside by the construction of a more internal city wall and the bir Byzantine Gate iyle with the shrinking of the city during the Byzantine period, and irregular structures were built on it. 
Byzantine Gate and Wall
The Byzantine Gate is more massive than the Frontinus Gate. A single small opening was left similar to the castle gate and square bushings were built on the sides. This difference is a good example of the security revisions of the Anatolian cities in the late period due to the insecure environment. As a matter of fact, while many cities were shrinking during this period, they built new city walls from the inside and left many structures of the early periods to be demolished and sometimes even demolished them and used the building materials in the construction of these walls. For example, Side, Metropolis came to my mind first. 
To the left of Frontinus Street is the Agora of the city. It is difficult to say that the Agora, which is quite large, is well understood. An interesting aspect of this agora is that it may not only be confined to commercial, managerial functions, but also gladiatorial fights. Until recently, there wasn’t any claim that there was a gladiator fight in the agora, or maybe I hadn’t, but nowadays I hear from different sources. 
I heard one of them from the boiler team Smyrna agora. It was a thought that there might be gladiator graffiti in the basement of the stoas surrounding the agora, and perhaps some clues to the gladiatorial fights in the agora. Of course, this claim needs to be strengthened by other evidence, not just a few graffiti, but it seems that we will hear more about the claims that gladiator fights are not limited to arenas or theaters. 
After advancing for a while on Frontius Street, we find ourselves in a cathedral as we head towards the theater and east.

The cathedral can be read in three-nave plan scheme and the rows of seats in the apse.

After the cathedral, we reach the theater by climbing some steep streets and then climbing a steep slope. The theater of Hierapolis really offers an exceptional experience. Both with great views and the state of protection does not come out of people. Of course, this may also be due to a little tired.

Hierapolis Theater.
Based on the capacity of the theater to be around 10,000 people, the city’s population is estimated to be around 100,000 people. 
By the way, Hierapolis has two different theaters. Just like Laodikeia, Hierapolis residents were not content with a single theater. We can explain this special situation with the availability of land but more importantly with the wealth of these cities. 
The theater is accessed from the highest point today, but it must have been the entrance from the stage, in other words, the paraduses. As I said, both the cavea, the sitting area and the skene and proskene, the backstage building and the scenery are very well preserved. Some sculptures and reliefs were placed in the museum instead of making copies. 
Let us convey information about the theater from the information sign in the field:
“The large building is built on four islands. The upright cavea was divided into two parts from the diazoma, vertically 9 cuneus were placed in the Summa cavea gallery and 8 steps. The central part of the Ima cavea (lower steps), high-backed, lion-footed seats arranged in the form of a marble exedra for proedria, is for the important people of the city.The stage building has a logeion and a large backstage and is connected to the skene. The three schemes of the skene frons sit on the podium by marble monolithic columns, and there are adorned cornices dedicated to Apollo and Artemis.

This splendid structure was built during the reign of Emperor Septimius Severus. III. century, the previous phase (Flavius ​​period) and was built by destroying. The structure was used until the Late Roman Period, the lower face of the architrave, IS. We understand the repair of the skene frons dated to 352 from the inscription. “

On the wall in the middle passage (called the Diazoma), which separates the seating rows of the theater into the upper and lower sections, Hierapolis was faced with a poem like this:

The inscription in Diazoma.

The translation of the poem (according to the information table in the field) is as follows:

“The holy city, the golden city, 
you have the most favorable lands of vast Asia, the 
master of the 
Nymphes, adorned with your (majestic) waters.”

The stage friezes of the theater visualize mythological narratives as in many theaters. The greatest examples of this tradition were in the stage building of the Perge Theater. But that’s not bad. Reliefs were moved to the museum near the South gate and replaced with models. In the meantime, let me say that the museum is a structure obtained by the restoration of the South Bath, which is an important building. 

Monumental Fountain (Temple Nymphaeumu)
On the right, we see a fountain structure with its monumental dimensions. There was a huge pool in front of the fountain structure, which had a U-plan and two floors. Some say that at this fountain, those who go to the prophecy of the Apollo sanctuary are washed away and purified. But bathing in the nymphaeum is something I’ve never heard of before. Perhaps, like ablution, certain parts of the body were being washed. Take ablutions before going to the Temple of Apollo… This was also good.🙂
Although the structure naturally lost much of its splendor in the Roman period, it is still magnificent. Today, we need to complete the missing pieces with our imagination (the eyes are narrowed while doing this) and to replace the statues and reliefs of the gods, the nymphs, the nymphs and the water nymphs, and to cover the whole structure with white marble. 
Museum (South Bath)
The structure is very similar to the museum in Side in terms of both being a bath and restoration technique. The restoration in Side was done in the early 1960s, if I remember correctly. Hierapolis was restored in the 1970s and opened in 1984. Although it is compatible with the restoration approach of the period, it is difficult to say that today both buildings retain the character of Turkish baths well. I think that new, contemporary museums can be built at a certain distance from the excavation area and these converted museums can be transformed to approach the original ones.Below I present some of the sculptures and reliefs of the stage frieze that have been moved from the theater to the museum and some scenes they have visualized, but first I want to show the infrastructure of the apse part of the bath structure, which was performed with incredible skill:

A fascinating construction.
Roman period, II. century Hades statue. 
Next to him is the guard of the door of Tartaros with three heads of Kerberos and 
possibly with the head that gives invisibility to the wearer.
The crowning of the Emperor Septimus Severus, who played a major role in the construction of the theater. 
There are both mortals and immortals at the ceremony.
This is again II. century is a very beautiful relief. Hierapolis, the city itself, was personified as a young girl. 
On the right, Tykhe, the Goddess of Fertility, crowns her. On the left, the personified version of the people 
brings a bull to the altar and presents it to the gods for the city. 
One hand of Hierapolis in the middle holds a sacred captain’s offering to the gods, while the other holds the 
Nike goddess of victory. 
Relief group describing the Niobe myth. Niobe boasted very much with 
his children , referring to Leto, the mother of Artemis and Apollo, and insulted unacceptable insults such as “he only has one child, I have 12 children, and I should be worshiped. Asıl 
As punishment, Leto’s children Artemis and Apollo’s arrows killed all their children. He was 
transformed into a crying rock in his grief . Today in Manisa, weeping rock, believed to have been transformed by Niobe, and 
water flows through summer and winter . 
Relief group describing the myth of Marsyas. I told this myth in a long article in another blog.
Hades kidnapped Persephone.
“Three Graces Sol on the left and Poseidon on the right.

I plutonium

One of the most interesting places of Hierapolis was Plutonium. This area is actually dedicated to Apollo as well as Pluto. The areas of these two gods are almost intertwined. Pluton, the god of the land and the land of the dead, or more known, this sacred area dedicated to Hades in Greek mythology, was actually a natural crevasse where carbon-anhydride, a poisonous gas, came to earth. Probably those who approached this cave-like crevice in ancient times, and perhaps people who had died, thought it was a gateway to the land of the dead, that is, the kingdom of Hades. There were even those who believed that the myth of Hades’s abduction of Persephone to the underground was described in a relief in the theater. 
Therefore, a temple-like ritual space was built here. The mouth of this cleft is largely closed today. 
I had visited the area before when I arrived, but the last time I was there, the area was closed for either restoration or other reasons. One of the marble sculptures of Hades with serpentine statues on both sides was tried to increase the emphasis of the area. The statue of Hades was “eh ok yıl but it seemed as if the serpent statues didn’t exist…

Plutonium in 2015.
Plutonium in 2019.

Hades sanctuary is not very much actually. He is a god that people don’t want to be too much interested in because he is identified with death. That’s why the Hades sanctuary here, Plutonion, is an important area. In the meantime, I would say that one of the rare temples dedicated to Hades is in the Acharaka sanctuary near Aydın. In fact, we need to consider it in another article.

In the meantime, while you’re walking through Hierapolis, you can see those who make paragliding all over your head. The paratroopers taking off from the hill to the east of the city glide over you and look great as you land on the runway next to the highway below. One does not care. 

Last but not least, Pamukkale was taken into the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1988 with Hierapolis.RESOURCES

Ekrem Akurgal, 2000, Anatolian Civilizations, Net Publishing 
Çağlan-Erdal Yazıcı, 2014, Hierapolis, Uranus Publications 
Strabon, 2000, Geographica, Archeology and Art Publications

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