Pamukkale & Hierapolis
Located 14 km to the north of the provincial center of Denizli, Pamukkale Hierapolis lies on a hill dominating the Plain of Menderes at an elevation of 160 m. The name of the city in the Etruscan/Pelasgian language is “Swaura”, meaning “Sacred City”.
Indeed, the city was subsequently Hellenized by the Macedonians and Byzantines and called Hierapolis again to mean “sacred city”.
Pamukkale, What does it Mean?
The travertine formations, called Pamukkale (Cotton Castle), is considered : today the eighth wonder of the world. It is presumed that the travertines were formed in the course of a process which lasted 15 thousand years.
According to the objects uncovered as a result of the prehistoric excavations carried out in Beyce Sultan and other tumuli, the Luwian and Pelasgian branches of the Etruscans came to the area circa 3000 B.C. and built a sanctuary in honour of the Mother Goddess Cybele by the hot water spring.
This sanctuary was also recognized and visited by other branches in Anatolia. At the time of adaptation of the patriarchal order a cult center was built in honour of the God Apollon on site of the temple.
The Christian saints were also impressed by the area which continued to be a sanctuary also during the Roman era, who blessed the cities of Leadicea and Colossai here, too, and wrote letters to invite them to Christianity as mentioned in the Bible. In 87 A.D. the famous Christian Saint Philliphus lived here and a Martyrium was built in his honour as a remembrance of his efforts carried out for Christianity.
The area maintained its sanctity also during the Byzantine era and the Germiyanogullari Turkomans who came to the area in the 11th century A.D. did not damage these sacred cities.
The area which was a spot of visit by the emperors and statesmen as a sacred thermal site in every period as of 2000s B.C. was several times devastated by earthquakes and abandoned.
Ok, Pamukkale is Cotton Castle but Why is it White?
As the water, having a temperature of 34 degrees Celcius, gushing from the underground springs at an elevation of 160 m off the plain of Menderes, with calciumbicarbonate content, flows down the hillsides, carbonmonoxide gas emanates, and the calciumbicarbonate, dissolving thereby, is sedimented, thus forming the white-coloured travertines. Therefore, the area is called Pamukkale (Cotton Castle).
As, in Karahayit located at a distance of 5 km to the north, the underground water having a temperature of 68 degrees Celcius, with iron, magnesium and sulphur contents, flows down the slopes, it issues carbonmonoxide gas in the like manner, thus forming red coloured travertines with the sedimentation of the iron compounds. This place is called Kirmizisu (Red Water). Today the area is one of the foremost tourism resorts thanks to its tourism resorts thanks to its accommodation facilities, thermal baths and natural and historical assets.The remains of the ancient Hierapolis stretch around a colonnaded street, measuring 6 m wide by 1200 m long, running in a south-north direction, on the plateau over the travertines.
The colonnaded street starts with a three- arched gate built in memory of the Emperor Domitian in 84 A.D. to the north of the gate are the remains of a bath complex visible consisting of three sections and built during the Roman era. This structure was used as a church during the Byzantine era. Located to the north of the structure, within the ancient city, is the north necropolis with various Anatolian type of tombs numbering some 1200.
Uncovering of a great variety of tombs here brings to mind that people of every culture lived in the city. House-like tombs of quadrangular plan displaying Cilician and Roman characters are one-or several-storeyed and consist of various rooms.
The tumulus tombs with a single door, in the form of piled earth upon a circular wall, exhibit the characteristics of the Lydian Culture. The sarcophagi placed upon a high pedestal are of the Lycian type of sarcophagi.
On the tombs and sarcophagi there are epitaphs inscribed with information regarding the buried person.
Erected to the South of the Gate of Domitian, at the point where the colonnaded street joined the city walls, is the Byzantine Gate built of rubble stone. Lying to the south of the gate are the remains of a Byzantine basilica built in the 5th century A.D. and to the south of this, in turn, is a Roman Bath complex consisting of 5 sections used as a museum today.
The finds unearthed by the excavations carried out in the area and the prehistoric works of art in Beyce Sultan are on display in the museum Located adjacent to the complex is the ancient thermal pool where the thermal water is collected and in which the remains of the antique columns and stones are still visible.
Built immediately to the backside of the pool, upon the rocky ground over the main thermal water spring, is the Temple and Sacred Cave of Apollon which was essentially the sanctuary of Cybele, the Mother Goddess, and which, in time, was transformed as to honour the Phrygian God Men and his successor Apollon.
The temple, which was constructed upon a podium measuring 20 m wide by 15 m long and having a pronauos and a cella, was lined with six columns with Corinthian capitals on its façade.
Through the door located to the south of the podium of the temple, and having the form of a natural gallery amongst rocks, one enters into the sacred underground water cave, called plutonium.In antiquity the cave was renowned as a door descending into the world of Plouton, the God of the Underworld, and was used by the priests of the Temple of Apollon to instil fear in and to dominate people. Unaware of the carbonmonoxide gas in the cave, people thought that the Apollon priests possessed fatal powers.
Here, when they wanted to convince somebody, the priests took a small bird in their hand and, asking Apollon to kill this bird, they threw it into the gas-filled cave. When the bird was killed from poisoning, people thought that the God Apollon carried out every wish of the priests.
To the northwestern end of the temple is a single-basin Roman fountain which is ornamented and covered with marble slabs on the face.
The large square located to the east of the Temple of Apollon is the agora of the city. Situated at the eastern side of agora and resting into the side of the hill is a theater consisting of 2 sections with 50 caveas which, presumably, was built during the Roman era. It could seat 15 thousand people.The stage building was two-storeyed and entirely worked with marble-reliefs on the façade. Visible on the façade are columns with Ionian and Corinthian capitals in three tiers lying on top of one another and it had five doors between these columns through which the performers took stage. At the top are niches in which statues were put. The are niches in which statues were put. The marble reliefs on the lower façade depict instants from the mythological life of Dionyzos, the god of wine and entertainment.
The podium of the theatre is made of marble and stands 4 m high over the orchestra. The podium is carried by spiral- fluted columns over the orchestra, with marble niches carved in the shape of an oyster shell visible between the columns. In the lower central part of the stage building is a vomitorium in the form of an arched tunnel opening into the orchestra. The fact that a protection wall was built, 2 m high, between the orchestra and the caveas, indicates that the theatre was used as an arena during late Roman era.
On the relief-carving to the north of the protection wall, Hiera which gave its name to the city, is depicted together with nymphs. Located on the hillside to the north of the theatre is the Martyrium of Saint Philliphus, on square floor plan, with a large hall in the center and, to the northern wall of the hall, a semicircular synthronus.
Another one of the important works of art dating from the Middle Ages in the area is are Akhan Caravanserai, located 16 km to the east on the Silk Way. which was built Karasungur in 1253 and has marble portal leading to the accommodation quarters of merchants and animal shelters and is embellished with the relief-motifs of Menderes.
The area of Denizli is today wellknown the Pamukkale travertines, its thermal accommodation facilities…