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extraordinary travertine deposits and the richness of the Roman and
early Christian architectural remains one of the most spectacular sites
of antiquity. The well preserved necropolis of the city is one of the
most impressive cemetries of the past. The city is thought to have been
founded by Hiera, the wife of Telephos, the founder of Pergamon. The
Romans assumed control of the city in 133 B.C.. It was destroyed by an
earthquake in 17 A.D. but rebuilt during the reign of Nero to reach the
height of its prosperity in the 1st and "nd centuries A.D.. Apostle
Philip was martyred here in 80 A.D.. Hierapolis was governed by a Roman governor of Ephesus, in the Roman period.
Sources stated that the city was also visited by Hadrian. With the division of
the Roman Empire into two in 395 AD, the city was ruled by the Byzantine. It became the capital of Phyrigia during the reign of
The hot springs at Hierapolis have been used as a spa since the 2nd century BCE, and people came here to soothe their ailments, with many of them retiring or dying here.
After the earthquake of 60 A.D., and during the reign of emperor Titus Flavius Vespasianus, a theatre was hollowed out of the slope of the hill to the east, using the remains and the seats of an earlier Hellenistic theatre. There were subsequent alterations to this building during the reigns of emperors Hadrian and Septimius Severus and then in 352 CE it underwent a thorough restoration and was adapted for water shows.
|The were four entrances to the theatre, each with six statues in niches, flanked by marble columns. The auditorium had a capacity of 15,000 and is divided in two by a horizontal corridor. The lower part originally had twenty rows, and the upper part twenty five rows. Only thirty rows altogether have survived. The auditorium is segmented by means of eight vertical passageways with steps. It featured an imperial box. The proscenium consisted of two stories with ornately decorated niches off to the sides. Several statues, reliefs (depicting Apollo, Dionysios and Artemis) and decorative elements have been excavated and can be seen in the local museum.|
|There is an inscription in the theatre that relates to the emperor Hadrian. Emperor Septimius Severus is portrayed, together with his wife, Julia Domna, and his two sons, Caracalla and Geta, in a relief on the scene of the god Jupiter, who is shown seated on his throne. Emperor Septimius Severus also had a number of new buildings constructed in Hierapolis in gratitude for the sophist Antipater of Hierapolis, his private secretary and the tutor of his two sons.|
|Temple of Apollo|
A temple was raised to Apollo Lairbenos, the principal god of Hierapolis, during the Hellenistic period. Now only the foundations of the Hellenistic temple remain. The temple stood within a peribolos (15 by 20 metres) in Doric style. As the back of the temple was built against the hill, the peribolos was surrounded on three sides by marble Doric order columns. The new temple was reconstructed in the 3rd century in Roman fashion. It has a smaller area, and now only its marble floor remains. The temple of Apollo was deliberately built over an active fault passing underneath. Temples dedicated to Apollo were often built over sites with geological activity, the most famous being at Delphi.
At the side of the temple is the oldest local sanctuary, the Plutonium a shrine to the god of the underworld.The Plutonium is a small cave, just large enough for one person to enter through a fenced entrance, beyond which stairs go down, and from which emerges carbon dioxide gas caused by the underground geologic activity. At the rear of the chamber is a deep cleft in the rock, through which fast flowing hot water passes releasing a sharp smelling gas. Carbon dioxide would accumulate in the chamber resulting in suffocation for anyone entering. People thought that the gas was sent by Pluto, god of the underworld.During the early years of the town the castrated priests of Cybele descended into the Plutonium, crawled over the floor to pockets of oxygen or held their breath. They then came up to show that they were immune to the gas. People believed a miracle had happened and that therefore the priests were infused with superior powers and had divine protection. An enclosed area of 2,000 square metres (22,000 sq ft) stood in front of the entrance. It too was covered by this thick layer of suffocating gas, killing everyone who dared to enter this area. The priests sold birds and other animals to the visitors, so that they could try out how deadly this enclosed area was. Visitors could (for a fee) ask questions of the oracle of Pluto. The entrance to the Plutonium was closed off during the Christian times.
The Nymphaeum is located inside the sacred area, in front of the Apollo temple.It was a shrine of the nymphs, a monumental fountain distributing water to the houses of the city via networks of pipes. Now only the back wall and the two side walls remain. The walls and the niches in the walls were decorated with statues. The Nymphaeum has a U-shaped plan and sits on the continuation of the main colonnaded road.
|Arch of Domitius|
|Built by Julius Frontinus Proconsul of Asia in 81-96 A.D., this is the monumental entrance to the Roman city and leads onto the large plateia, 14m wide, which crosses the whole settlement, exiting a gate at the opposite side, to connect with the road that goes to Laodicea on the Lykos and then Colossae. It is worth admiring the well preserved structure with three openings, in carefully squared travertine blocks, with elegant arches decorated with a simple cornice moulding, flanked by two round towers.|
|This section in the city centre was the main thoroughfare of Hierapolis leading from the southern gateway to the Arch of Domitian. It was flanked on each side by colonnades, also built in the reign of Domitian.|
|Another set of baths was constructed outside the north gate at the beginning of the 3rd century A.D.. This building was converted into a church in the early in 5th century A.D.. It is apparent that the building had stuccoed, vaulted ceilings and that the halls were decorated with marble slabs.|
|Martyrium of St Philip|
The St. Philip Martyrium was named after the apostle Philip and stands on top of the hill outside the northeastern section of the city walls. It dates from the fifth century A.D.. It is said that St. Philip is buried in the center of the building. The Martyrium burned down at the end of the 5th or early 6th century A.D.. Philip is said to have been martyred in Hierapolis by being crucified upside-down, or by being hung upside down by his ankles from a tree.The Martyrium had a special design. It has a central octagonal structure (20 metres diameter) under a wooden dome which was covered with lead. This was surrounded with eight rectangular rooms, each accessible via three arches. Fourhes were used as entrances to the church, the other four as chapels.
|The dome above the apse was decorated with mosaics. The whole structure was surrounded with an arcade with marble columns. All the walls were covered with marble panels.|
|The stadum lying to the east of the city is only evident now in outline although a section has been restored.|
|The necropolis is one of the best preserved and extensive of its kind in the world. This city of the dead contains tumuli, sarcophagi and house shaped tombs lying stretched along both sides of the road extending 2km to the north. Most of about the 1200 tombs were constructed with local varieties of limestone. The extent of this necropolis attests again to the importance Hierapolis had in the Antiquity. It is worth taking one's time to wander amongst the tombs, that date from antiquity to early Christian times, and marvel at the ostentation that these residents of Heirapolis afforded to their tombs. It has a fairyland quality.|