Dear Steemit friends:
In today's edition of Travel with me, we'll be visiting Hierapolis and admiring the ancient ruins of this once very prosperous ancient city.
People often overlook Hierapolis because much of the attention is focused on the Pamukkale white travertine terraces which spread along the side of the mountain face of Büyük Menderes valley. Of course, that is to be expected because the terraces are truly beautiful and are unique on this planet!
Despite the beauty of the Pamukkale travertine terraces, it is definitely still worth visiting Hierapolis and seeing the ancient ruins of the once great city of Anatolia.
It's amazing to think that this city once had a population of nearly 100,000 people. Established by King Eumenes II of Pergamon, the town was built around the travertine terraces which were regarded as a natural miracle within his kingdoms's borders.
The town was named after Hiera, the wife of Telephos, the legendary founder of Pergamon.
The whole Hierapolis and Pamukkale site is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, meaning that considerable effort has been made to protect, preserve and even restore parts of the ancient city.
The entrance ticket to Pamukkale is inclusive of Hierapolis but you will likely want to make separate trips to visit each place. I spent almost an entire afternoon at the terraces and left very little time to explore Hierapolis and thus this trip was conducted on my second visit to the site.
The whole area stretches for several kilometers from one end to the other. On foot, it can take many hours to cover this distance whilst appreciating the ruins and artefacts which are spread around over a very large area.
For people who wish to save some time, there are little electric bikes you can rent and drive around yourself.
I would definitely recommend this option especially in the summer where temperatures can soar into the high 30's and even 40's.
Despite the temperature being 43 degrees Celsius, there are still people gliding up above in the sky, and many heat resistant people walking from site to site.
I decided to take a buggy with a roof and driver because the actual Hierapolis site starts at the Northern entrance which is the complete opposite side of the Southern Entrance where I came in. Even on the buggy, it takes around 10 minutes to drive there.
At the very end of the Northern entrance, we find the Necropolis which itself extends for nearly 2km.
This particular necropolis is one of the best preserved in all of Turkey and inside you will find the excavations of nearly 1200 tombs.
The most common type of tomb seen in the picture below are the sarcophagi. These date back to as early as the 1st century AD. Usually they are surrounded by walls or trees but each have their own inscriptions and design.
What's interesting is that much like the graves we find in the modern day, there are different kinds of graves for people with different socio-economic status.
The northern necropolis is where the tombs of the rich people are situated and usually feature meticulous craftsmanship as well as inscriptions of the names of the dead buried inside.
This particular sarcophagi stood out to me because it's elevated above a stone arch!
Usually, the larger the tomb, the more important the person buried inside was. As you can see, there are quite a number of large tombs which stick out amongst the smaller ones surrounding them.
Even though most of the tombs have now been excavated, most if not all have been vandalised over time.
In the past, words of warning were inscribed on the tombs themselves which would curse anyone who would try to vandalise them. There were even fines that were levied on people who were caught trying to do so.
Check out some more pictures of the Necropolis below!
The Basilica Baths
Coming back from the Northern Necropolis, we can see these two marvellous arches which have been really well preserved. These are in fact travertine rectangular blocks erected as part of the Basilica Baths. Originally used as a place to bathe, the structure was later transformed into a church during the first half of the 6th Century.
The Frontinus Gate
Serving as the entrance to the Frontinus Avenue, The Frontinus Gate was built by Julius Frontinus - the Proconsul of Asia Minor to the Emperor Domitian. It is therefore sometimes referred to as the Domitian gate.
I was really surprised to find the gate mostly intact with three distinctive arches which would have been embellished with columns and decorated with simple corniche. Either side of the gate are the cylindrical towers from the Hellenistic era.
The Frontinus Avenue behind me stretches for roughly 1 km and is about 14m wide. Originally it was referred to as Plateia Avenue.
This is The Latrine, otherwise known as the town's public toilet. Situated just after the Byzantine churches, it was constructed in the 1st century AD but then later collapsed due to the semi-frequent earthquakes which would occur in the area.
Surprisingly, most of the pieces which fell were very well preserved and post excavation were renovated and then resurrected to their original standing position.
It seems like in those days there was less modesty required in public toilets as there are no modesty dividers evident anywhere.
This is the inside of the Latrine. The structure was originally split into two columns and in the middle, there was a duct used as a sewage channel. On the other side of the columns, there was a terrace for people to sit on whilst using the toilet!
I honestly didn't even know I was walking through the sewage area of a public toilet when I had this picture taken. It's good to know though!
These are some of the ruins of the houses that were build around the Frontinus Avenue.
Hierapolis was surrounded by protective walls. This fine example is the North Byzantine Gate.
It was really huge, and really impressive considering it was erected in the late 4th century!
Just look at how small I am in the picture!
As you pass through the Byzantine Gate, we reach The Triton Nymphaeum.
This used to be a fountain which followed along the entire street. It's called the Triton Nymphaeum because it used to feature figures playing sea trumpets and other musical instruments.
The niches that you see here were made for placement of statues.
Check out a mini video of my visit!
And that wraps up my quick tour of the ancient city of Hierapolis and the very large Necropolis to the North.
I hope that you enjoyed the pictures of the ancient ruins of this great city. It's one thing to see them in pictures, but another to actually visit and walk inside. I sincerely hope that if you have the opportunity to visit Pamukkale that you spend ample time exploring this ancient city and hopefully uncovering even more history than I have covered here!
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