Hierapolis & Pamukkale - Turkey
Believed by the ancients to have been founded by Apollo, the ruins of the city of Hierapolis are a fascinating insight into the Greek and Roman Empires as they expanded through the Mediterranean. Hierapolis or “Holy City” as it’s known in Ancient Greek was built on hot springs which were used to power numerous baths and spas, which were believed at the time to have healing powers. There are several ruins still standing, including an impressive Theatre complete with stage buildings and the Arch of Domitian, built nearly 2000 years ago but still standing strong today. The thermal Sacred Pool is open, allowing you a rare opportunity to swim with and over ancient artefacts in the naturally warm, clear water which were deposited there after an earthquake. The Sacred Pool also offers an excellent view of Pamukkale. This natural wonder has been created by calcite-laden waters, which have created an otherworldly landscape consisting of petrified waterfalls and a stunning series of terraced basins. Visitors can no longer walk on the terraces in order to preserve them, but when you see how magnificent a natural wonder they are you’ll want to ensure they stay as pristine as they are now.
Where is it?
Hierapolis and Pamukkale are situated side-by-side in the Denizli Province of Turkey, in the south-west corner of the country.
What is it?
Hierapolis was an ancient city founded on hot springs in the Greco-Roman era. The hot springs also produced Pamukkale, a natural landscape of terraced basins and travertines. The combination of the two sites was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1988.
Best time to visit?
The best time to visit the sites is in spring, between April and June, as this is when the weather is at its most moderate. This avoids the scorching Turkish summer heat.
South of the temple of Apollo is the Plutonium, a sacred cave recently rediscovered which was thought to have been an entrance to the underworld, the domain of the Roman god Pluto. The cave believed to be a gateway to Hell emitted carbon dioxide in fatal quantities, and still does hence the entrance has (thankfully) been sealed off. Definitely worth a look, but don’t get too close!