One of the most extraordinary places to visit in Turkey is definitely the Hierapolis Ancient City and Pamukkale Travertines without any doubt. Actually Hierapolis Ancient City and Pamukkale Travertines are not located separately from each other. On the contrary, they are all together that you can visit both of them at once. On the video below you can travertines and the ancient city on the back. Also, you can the table below to read the topic you want directly. If you are looking more places to discover in Turkey, don’t forget to check the Turkey category for more.
Hierapolis: City of Water and Faith
I think that it is better to start with the Hierapolis Ancient City. This ancient city is located about 18 km north of the Denizli, major city in the region and textiles export locomotive of Turkey. Hierapolis was founded by the II. Eumenes in the 2nd century BC who was one of the kings of Bergama. The name of the Hierapolis comes from the wife of the legendary founder of the Bergama, Telephos, Hiera. During history, Hierapolic destroyed multiple times because of the earthquakes and rebuilt again and again. This region is still an active earthquake which causes massive damages from time to time. Most parts of the building you can see today at the ancient are from the construction after the earthquake occurred in 60 AD. Especially from this date Hierapolis lost its Hellenistic character and became a typical Roman city. A grid layout plan of the city is the strongest proof of its Roman character.
Byzantium ve Turkish Reign
Even after the Romans, Hierapolis kept its importance for the Byzantium. Especially from the 4th century AD, Hierapolis became an important place for the Christians. The most important reason for this importance is the death of the St. Philip murdered in here, who was one of the disciples of the Jesus Christ. Byzantium built an octagonal church called Martyrium in the name of St. Philip after the conquest of the city. After the construction, the reputation of the Hierapolis continues to increase and the city gains Metropolis title.
Unfornuetly once more, a massive earthquake hit the city in 7th century AD and most of the city destroyed. After this earthquake city lost its identity. Around the 12th century, Hierapolis becomes a small town once more. After the conquest of the city by the Seljuks in 13th, they started to use Hierapolis as a settlement. But as we all know history consists of repetition. Another earth destroyed the city in the 14th century and the city permanently abandoned.
Hierapolis Ancient City
Pamukkale, both its travertines and Hierapolis are a place to be seen once in a lifetime. Every year, more than 2 million people visit here. You will witness the meeting of nature and history in here. But for now, let’s continue with Hierapolis Ancient City. I will write everything you need to know before visiting Hierapolis and also Pamukkale travertines in the next sections. By the way, both Pamukkale travertines and Hierapolis Ancient City is in the UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage List and under the strict protection of the Turkish government. Hierapolis built by the intent of using the thermal sources of the Pamukkale travertines by the Kingdom of Pergamum.
This place is so attractive even today, imagine how was it like before then without any pollution, global warming and more. Hierapolis Ancient City is well preserved because there are so many things that you can see in the city. Especially, Roman Bath, theatres, monuments, tombs, agora and gymnasium are in well-shaped despite cruelties of the time. As I mentioned above Hierapolis is a sacred settlement for Christianity because of the murder of the St. Philip. His tomb is also in the city. The high number of churches in the city is another proof of the importance of the city among the people.
Importance of the Hierapolis
Hierapolis is called Holy City in the archaeology literature because of the high number of temples and the other religious structures. Geographically Hierapolis is located on the various historical region around it. The ancient geographer Strabon and Ptolemy suggested that the Hierapolis is a Phrygian city with its proximity to the cities of Laodikeia and Tripolis which are the borders of the Karia region. In ancient records, there are no information about the city before the time of the Hellenistic period. However, it is also known that there were a people in the Hierapolis before the it became officially a city because of the cult of Mother Goddess. It is known that the city was founded in 2nd century BC by the Telephos and he named the city after his wife the queen of Amazons, Hiera.
Hierapolis kept its origin and texture adhering to the principles of Hellenistic city layout and character until the earthquake occurred in the 60 AD. That time city was under the Roman reign and the emperor was the Neron. After the earthquake city was completely removed but several earthquakes hit the city in time. After these earthquakes city lost its Hellenistic character and became a typical Roman city. Even after the Romans, Hierapolis kept its importance as an important settlement for the Byzantium and Seljuk Turks. Today, Hierapolis Ancient City and Pamukkale travertines are an important touristic place to witness the dance of nature and history.
Important Places to See in Hierapolis Ancient City
In this part of the Hierapolis Ancient City and Pamukkale travertines guide, you can find information about the most important parts of the ancient city worth to see before you leave. Don’t forget to check the Hierapolis Ancient City map.
Theather of the ancient is a city built on four foundations. The steep caves of the theatre are divided into two part from the diazoma, vertically 9 cuneus is placed in the Summa caves gallery with 8 steps. The middle part of the Ima caves (lower steps), high-backed, lion-footed seats for the proedria are for the important people for the city. The stage of the Hierapolis Theater has a logeion and wide backstage where is linked to the skene. The three layouts of the skene frons sit on the podium by marble monolithic columns. Also, here there are decorated cornices dedicated to Apollo and Artemis. This stunning building was built during the reign of the Emperor Septimius Severus III. It was used until the late Roman era. However, it is understood that the repair works on the skene from the inscription dated 352 AD.
Large Bath Complex
You can see the massive walls and even some of the vaults survived from the time. We can understand that to the interior of the bath complex was covered with marble. The layout of the bath is very similar to the regular Roman baths. First, there is a large courtyard at the entrance, a closed rectangular area with large halls on both sides and the main bathing area. Also, two large halls on the north and south part of the bath separated for the emperor and ceremonies. Remains of the bath complex are dated to the 2nd centre AD. Today, closed part of the bath with vaults adjacent to the big hole are use as an archaeological museum.
Because of its architectural features, this 14 meters wide street which thought to be built with the door constitutes the main street of the city. You can walk through this road during your time in Hierapolis.
After the earthquake occurred in the 60 AD, Frontinus street was organized as Hierapoli Commercial Agora as a result of a wide area change between the slopes of the hill in the eastern part of the Hierapolis.
Northern Byzantine Gate
This gate is located at the northern entrance of the city. Gate dated back to the end of the 4th century. Also, the northern gate is included in the city wall system built previously.
Southern Byzantine Gate
Like the Northern Byzantine Gate, Southern Byzantine Gate built in the 4th century. During the construction of the gate materials from the Pamukkale travertines used.
An inscribed architrave fragment is remarkable on the column array, indicating that the building is the gymnasium.
Triton Fountain Building
Triton Fountain Building is one of the two big monumental buildings in the city. Also, there is a fountain building just next to the Temple of Apollo.
Ionic Column Headed House
This house is located on the secondary long road that leads to the theatre. The ionic column headed house is dated back to the 2nd century AD.
The original building was destroyed during the earthquakes and today we can only see the fragments. This building was a part of the system for sewage. Also, there is a bench to sit along the inner wall and holes on it. Clean water was pouring under this bench, yes you get it 🙂 Probably you saw this scene in the Spartacus 🙂
This monument dedicated to the most important god of the Hierapolis, The Apollon. At first, the building inside the podium was previously described as a temple. But after the studies about the Hierapolis, it was understood that the building was a place for divination.
Water Canals and Nympheums
Two aqueducts, consisting of canals built on the surrounding hills, provide drinking water to the city.
The entrance of Plutonium is on the right side of the temple.
City Walls of Hierapolis
Romans ordered the cities to be covered by the walls in the year 396. As a result of this order, Hierapolis surrounded by walls in the north, south and east directions.
It is one of the most important Christian buildings of Hierapolis Ancient City. The structure opens to the plateia with narthex and atrium. Entrance the baptismal place through the door on the right, the rectangular plan, the abscissa room is divided into columns and 3 naves. The fringe was carried by the second row of columns of the section where women sit. The apse has a rounded inside and a multi-edged plan outside. Inside the main apse is the concentric staircase, synthronon, on which the priests and the bishop sit. The building dated back to the 6th century.
St. Philippus Martrium
In addition, to be a source of healing with the unique thermal waters of Hierapolis Ancient City, it was considered a holy city both in Pagan and Christian times. The main reason for the importance of the Hierapolis Ancient City, in 80 AD, St Philip came to Hierapolis to spread Christianity and he killed by crucifixion. After the 4th century when Christianity became the official religion of the Roman empire, a martyrdom was made in the place where it was killed in the name of St. Philippus. The building, which is built as a religious and spiritual treatment centre, has an octagonal plan.
There is a tomb of St. Philippus in the marble-covered area in the middle. You can reach the centre of the martyrium by using wide and long stairs. Ayazma fountain structure is located to the right of the stairs in the last section approaching the building. The octagonal section, about 20 meters in diameter, is covered with a lead-coated dome. There are small chapels to pray in the building. The floor of the octagonal section is marble, the corridor and the floor of the connected sections are mosaic with herb motif, and the floor of the rooms is travertine, and the floor of the outer rooms where the people stay is compacted soil. Today, many churches celebrate the feast of St. Philippus and organize rituals.
Well, if you are full of history it is time meet the other face of the Pamukkale, travertines! The name of the Pamukkale means Cotton Castle in English. I think you get it where the cotton comes from. Yes, from its unique white coloured steps. Pamukkale also knowns as the cotton land of the Denizli, biggest city in the region. Pamukkale travertines are also in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Basically, Pamukkale travertines are one of the most beautiful things you can see your lifetime. But of course, all of us have to be careful to keep its natural formation and preserve it. Because in the past several years, travertines started getting dark. After this unfortunate event, the Turkish government apply strict restrictions and preserving plan for the Pamukkale. For now, it seems to be working. But the most important thing is not to save the Pamukkale to kept it like that always.
How The Pamukkale Travertines Were Formed?
Travertines are geological materials. They formed as a result of the precipitation of various chemical reactions. Actually, travertines are some kind of rock. In the Pamukkale region, there are 17 hot water spring. Temperatures of these hot water springs vary between 35 to 100 degrees which is quite high for a regular spring. The water after leaving from the spring comes to the top floors of the travertines and stars to subside on the steps. The main material of the travertines is the calcium hydro carbonate in the water. Carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide evaporate when coming into contact with oxygen after the leaving from the spring. And then, calcium carbonate starts to subside slowly. In the beginning, travertines form like a gel but in time hardens and became hard rock.
Be Aware of These Things
Previously, some of the hotels constructed to close to the Pamukkale travertines. Also, the tourist came to the Pamukkale travertines walked over the soft form of the travertines. These issues prevent the accumulation of the chemical material that turns into the travertine rocks. Please be very careful during your time in Pamukkale travertines. If we all wanted to keep the Pamukkale travertines in the UNESCO World Heritage List we need to protect it. However, to preserve the Pamukkale travertines Turkish government applied some rules and restrictions.
Binding Rules and Restrictions
- You can’t go to the entrance of the Pamukkale travertines by your car. Cars should be parked at a special area and you need use to shuttles to go to the travertines.
- Hotels moved to more far locations from the travertines. Also, you can’t walk on everwhere over the travertines. Walking paths are restricted. You can enter the pools and terraces with barefoot, even swim. So it is better to bring a bag to put your shoes.
- Most of the tourists are trying to take a piece from the travertines. That leads to getting travertines to be darker. Please don’t do that.
- Also, there is a water control system. Water spill system is working to preserve the travertines in good condition.
Best Time to Visit the Pamukkale
I think the best time to visit the Pamukkale is the summer season. Because in both Hierapolis Ancient City and Pamukkale travertines there are plenty of open spaces to visit. But also be know that the, during the summer season Pamukkale may be crowded.
Where is The Hierapolis Ancient City and Pamukkale Travertines?
As I mentioned before Hierapolis Ancient City and Pamukkale travertines is located about 18 km north of the Denizli, the biggest city in the region. Also, you can visit another settlement named Pamukkale just next to the travertines and Hierapolis Ancient City. If you are planning to come to the Pamukkale with your own car you should go to the northern gate. Because you need to see the main parking space at the northern gate and take a shuttle to go to the visiting areas. You will find all the important places on the interactive map at the end of the post. Of course, you can park your car at a close place to the other gates of Pamukkale. But if you are planning to visit Hierapolis Ancient City, the northern gate is the best place to leave your car.
Visiting The Hierapolis Ancient City and Pamukkale Travertines
Pamukkale is open during the whole year. That means you can both visit Hierapolis Ancient City and Pamukkale travertines anytime you want. There is a timetable for visiting the Pamukkale. My suggestion is to go to the entrance point at least 2 hours before the closing to have a good experience. But if you are looking to visit the Hierapolis and travertines at the same day it is better to go there in the morning. Pamukkale opens at 06.30 mornings and closes at 19.00 in the evening. Ticket booth closes at 18.30 during the summer season (1st April to 1st October) and 18.00 during the winter season (1st October to 1 April).
Entrance Fee to the Pamukkale
You can buy the tickets for Hierapolis Ancient City and Pamukkale travertines separately. Hierapolis Ancient City entrance fee is 12 TL and Pamukkale travertine is 80 TL. But if you have Müze Kart (Museum Pass) you can enter to both places free of charge. You can buy the Müze Kart in advance from their website. If you are looking for a tour to join to visit the Pamukkale please take a look to the widget below to find the best ones.
Interesting Facts About Pamukkale
- Pamukkale travertine and Hierapolis Ancient City is on 100 meters high. You can see the Pamukkale even from Denizli and Denizli is 20 km away!
- Be careful about the temperature of the water in Pamukkale travertines. Because its temperature is between 35 to 100 degrees.
- Pamukkale means Cotton Castle in English. The name of the Pamukkale comes from the white travertines.
- There are lots of cotton plantations in this region.
- Sacred Pool in the Pamukkale has another name, Cleopatra’s Pool. There is a myth about this pool. The myth tells us the Cleopatra swam in this pool.
- There 17 hot water spring around the Pamukkale.
- Every year more than 2 million people came to the Pamukkale.
- Hierapolis Ancient City and Pamukkale travertines in a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
You can use the interactive map below to take look at the important places in Pamukkale. Also, please share your thought, experiences and suggestions about the places in Pamukkale. However, feel free to share your questions. Based on my experience Hierapolis Ancient City and Pamukkale travertines are incredible places to see. They are a bit underrated because of their locations. Because there are no seas or attractive nightlife at the region. Even so, you won’t regret if you visited these jewel of Turkey.