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                               HIERAPOLIS - TURKEY

May 24

We cut inland and drove through green olive clad hills and valleys patchworked with crops, to the area of the thermal springs to visit Hierapolis and Pamukkale.

Hierapolis, whose name means "sacred city," was believed by the ancients to have been founded by the god Apollo. It was famed for its sacred hot springs, whose vapors were associated with Pluto, god of the underworld. The city also had a significant Jewish community and was mentioned by Paul in his Letter to Colossians.

The city fell into decline in the 6th century, and the site became partially submerged under water and deposits of travertine. It was finally abandoned in 1334 after an earthquake. Excavations began to uncover Hierapolis in the 19th century.


Necropolis of Hierapolis
Upon entering the site, we came upon the
north necropolis (graveyard), the largest in Anatolia. It contains more than 1,200 tombs of various types, including tumuli, sarcophagi and house-shaped tombs from the Hellenistic, Roman and early Christian periods. Some have Jewish inscriptions.

 

Some tombs were open and we saw several stone couches upon which gifts were left and the dead were laid, often families.  The entrance was sealed with a sliding stone.

The Gate of Domitian (83 AD) was constructed around 83 AD to serve as the northern entrance to the city. This was the heart of the city during Roman times, containing shops and public buildings under covered walkways.

Basilica Baths

Hierapolis was a cure center that prospered under the Romans.

The Roman Baths, built around the late 2nd century AD were used as a Christian basilica beginning in the 5th century.

The Theater of Hierapolis

Constructed around 200 BC, the theater could hold 20,000 spectators and had marble seating for royalty in the lower section. Today, just 30 of the original 80 rows of seating have survived.

The rock seating was so steep that it took some fortitude to clamber over the ancient crumbling  ledges to the stage below.

The top level afforded a magnificent view of the sprawling farmland below the ancient city.

 

The engineering of the architecture was fascinating considering the age and equipment that was available at the time. Arches made of huge rock were held in place by the shape of the stone and the pressure of one against the other.

 

There were fields full of thousands of pieces of marble and granite, organized to some degree by like patterns/color/carvings awaiting for assembly.
Definitely the World's largest Jig Saw Puzzle!

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