Hierapolis is one of Turkey’s finest ancient heritage sites. Wander around streets in a ruined city that has maintained the shape and structures of its glory years as a Roman spa town. The UNESCO-recognized city still contains an ancient pool, a stunning amphitheater and an atmospheric cemetery.
Picture Hierapolis in its heyday during the Roman and Byzantine eras. The once-thriving city was founded during the reign of King Eumenes II in the 2nd century B.C. It gained notoriety as the execution site of Philip the Apostle, one of Jesus’ disciples. The area was ceded to the Romans in 133 B.C. it became a Christian bishopric under the rule of Constantine.
Marvel at the semicircular theater space, which is still used for events today and features a frieze with images of the goddess Artemis. The impressive Temple of Apollo stands on a geological fissure.
Discover the funerary rites of Hierapolis in the vast Necropolis. The ancient cemetery is over 1 mile (2 kilometers) long and features four types of graves from different eras of the city’s history.
Visit the Christian monuments scattered around the city, which are some of the finest ruins from the era of the Early Church. The Martyrium of St. Philip commemorates the death of one of Jesus’ disciples and was built in the 5th century. Other ruins include churches, a cathedral and a baptistery.
The Antique Pool on the edge of the archaeological site is open to the public, who can swim in the very same waters in which the Roman visitors to the town would have swam. The calcium-rich waters are naturally warmed and situated among ancient columns.
Learn more about life here at the Hierapolis Archaeological Museum, which is housed in what was once the bath house. Statues, pottery and other findings from ancient cities around Turkey create an informative look at the nation’s ancient past.
Hierapolis is open throughout the year, although hours are limited on some religious holidays. Drive about an hour north of Denizli to reach this ancient attraction and use the on-site parking. The nearby town of Pamukkale offers accommodations and restaurants for visitors to the region.