Hierapolis at Pamukkale and Pluto’s Gate

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Al and I have been married for 15 years. Al has two children from his first marriage, and I have one. The first year that we were dating, we decided to take all three children (they were 21, 18, and 9 years old then) to Turkey. It was Al’s and his kids’ first time visiting Turkey. We did the typical tour for the first-comers plus some extra sites and one week of blue voyage from Kemer to Kas. Our tour included Istanbul, Ephesus, Bodrum, Fethiye, Hierapolis and Pamukkale, Antalya (with Kemer-Kas Blue Voyage), Ankara, and Cappadocia.

It was a wonderful vacation getting to know each other in a beautiful country without gathering in anyone’s home territory and feeling awkward.

After visiting Istanbul and Ephesus, we drive inland on roads lined with oleander bushes crowned with purple, white and red flowers. We continue through the magnificent valley of the Meander River before arriving at Pamukkale.

Red Oleander bush

Red Oleander bush

Meander Valley - Hierapolis

Meander Valley – Hierapolis


After we check in at the hotel near Pamukkale, we drive to the Hierapolis-Pamukkale site – another location listed among Unesco World Heritage Sites.

Hierapolis - entrance to this ancient site

Hierapolis – entrance to this ancient site

First we visit the ancient Phrygian city of Hierapolis, adjacent to Pamukkale. At one point, as we walk on a high wall, Abby screams.

Oh my! I know this place! I know this place!” She is having a hard time to get the words out.

This is the place in my dreams. All my life, I have seen this exact location in my dreams. And I had no idea where it was.”

Interestingly, the spot she is looking at could not be in any of the photographs we would normally see in travel magazines or in any other place, since it is not one of those ‘do-not-miss’ photo ops.

More vista at Heirapolis

More vista at Heirapolis

Hierapolis - a small section of this ancient site

Hierapolis – a small section of this ancient site – Excavations continue

Has she lived there before? Is reincarnation possible? I am not a huge believer of these things, but I do get excited if any possibility exists. I would have loved to see a place like Abby did and think about if I had lived there in ancient times.

Maybe she was a high priestess in Hierapolis or maybe she was Hiera!

Last week, I asked Abby if I could use her name in my post, she said:

Sure, no problem! I had another dream about two years before we went to Turkey. I walked up a hill (that is the place where we were standing when she screamed) and stood at the top looking down into a very green, shallow valley . There was a battle going on, with lots of spears, and some sort of encampment on the opposite hillside – so deep I could actually see into the hill. That is all I remember!”

Maybe, Abby was an Amazon woman in her previous life. Hiera was an amazon woman.

Hiera was the wife of Telephus,who was Heracles’ (Hercules) son and Zeus’ grandson. Hiera is assumed to be the mythic founder of the city of Pergamon. Apparently, around the same time as the Trojan War, Greeks attacked Pergamon. The Amazons, including Hiera, helped Pergamon defend the city. However, Hiera was killed during the attack.

It is believed that the ancient city of Hierapolis was named in her honor by her husband.

Or, other sources say, the name can just mean ‘holy city’ since the first building erected in Hierapolis was a temple, around 190 BCE. The temple was built on top of a cave emitting deadly toxic gases due to the source of the hot springs below. The entrance to this cave was assumed to be the “Pluto’s Gate”, gate to the underworld. Hades (the earlier Greek name) or Pluto (Roman name) is the god of death in mythology.

plutonium gate

Pluto’s Gate

This cave was used as a ritual passage to the underworld. The castrated priests knows as the Galli sold birds and animals to the visitors so that they could sacrifice the animals and also ask questions of the oracle of Pluto. Priests of Hierapolis knew where the pockets of clean air were within the cave. So, they would enter the cave and come out alive showing off their immortality, although with a bit of hallucination. The entrance to the Pluto’s gate was closed off and the temple was destroyed in the 6th century CE by Christians.

There are 13 places on earth that people believed were entrances to hell and Pluto’s Gate is one of them. Although Hierapolis itself was discovered in 1965, it was not until 2012 that the archaeologists found two marble statues by a closed off cave: a serpent, and Kerberos (Cerberus) which is the three-headed dog that, according to myth, guards the gate of hell.

Pluto’s Gate has attracted many pilgrims from all around the world to make sacrifices to Pluto. Adding the healing benefits of the hot springs, Hieropolis became a vibrant city of healing and religion in its time. The hot springs have been used as a spa since the 2nd century BCE.

Since many ill people come here to use the spa, they ended up staying until they died. The Christian apostle Philip was one of them. Therefore, Hieropolis has one of the largest and the best preserved necropolis with more than 1200 graves. There was also a large population of Jewish people reaching 50,000 living in Hierapolis around 60 BCE.

Amphitheater at Hierapolis

Amphitheater at Hierapolis

This post is on Hierapolis. I will cover Pamukkale, a natural wonder just adjacent to Hierapolis, on another post since it really deserves its own story.

Pamukkale - Cotton Castle: Picture from the lower park

Pamukkale – Cotton Castle: Picture from the lower park


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3 thoughts on “Hierapolis at Pamukkale and Pluto’s Gate

  1. Pingback: Pamukkale – Is it “Cotton Castle” or “Cotton Fortress”? It doesn’t matter | Landscapes from Turkey

  2. Pingback: Top places to visit in Bodrum, Turkey | Landscapes from Turkey

  3. Pingback: Flashback? A dream historical account | Pomegranates and Grapes

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