Pamukkale is the modern name of Hierapolis. The name of the city is derived from the wife of Telephus, Hiera. Telephus was the mythical founder of Pergamum. The city Hierapolis was established in the 4th century BC by the Seleucid kings. The ancients believed that the city was founded by God Apollo. Hierapolis literally means the sacred city. The city was popular due to the sacred hot springs linked with Pluto the god of the underworld.
Presently Hierapolis is a World Heritage Site and very popular tourist attraction. Millions of people visit to take a bath in the sacred hot springs as it is believed to cure various ailments. The city also has a mention in the Bible. Ancient tradition links Hierapolis to the biblical figure Philip, quotes that Philip died in Hierapolis in 80 AD. There is no clarity about Philip, whether he was Philip the Apostle, one of the 12 original disciples crucified, or Philip the Evangelist, the later disciple.
Hierapolis became part of the tri-city area in Lycas River Valley, the city was popular for the textiles mainly wool and the purple dye made from madder root juice. The hot springs at Hierapolis are still the strongest tourist attraction, as it is known to have healing power. The water in this hot spring is rich in minerals who have this miraculous power of curing various ailments.
The city of Hierapolis was dedicated to Apollo Lairbenos, who was supposed to have founded the city. In the ruins found in the area is the Temple of Apollo, which is estimated to have been built in the 3rd century AD. Pluto, the god of the underworld was also worshipped in this city in those days and this is apparent from the fact that the main religious festival in ancient time was Letoia.
Hierapolis city was attached to Rome in 133 BC along with the rest of the kingdom and was the Roman province since then. There was an earthquake in 60 AD, which destroyed the city which was later rebuilt in 2nd and 3rd century AD.
In the ancient times the city had majority of the Jewish population and this is proved by the innumerous inscriptions on the tombs and another site in the site. The city was destroyed primarily due to earthquakes and the deposits of travertine and the flood of water.
Though now the entire site is called as Pamukkale, in the ancient times Pamukkale was the white terraces from the travertine, which were located near the ruins of the Hierapolis city. The layer of the white calcium carbonate built up in steps has given this name Pamukkale to the area which means the cotton castle. For obvious reasons the visitors are not permitted to walk on these layers.
Hierapolis or the Pamukkale, as it is known now, has plenty of attractions for the tourists. The center of attraction obviously is the hot springs where every visitor loves to take a dip along with the ancient artifacts. The visitors are allowed to swim with the antiquities. There is the Pamukkale Museum which is worth visit the displays which are Turkish and English are well maintained and arranged, there are coins, jewelry, statues and architectural fragments among other items on display. There are Temples of Apollo and Plutonium to visit and so are the ruins of the theater which is well preserved with the stage building.
There is also a ruined church and the Martyrium of St. Philip along with the crosses and the arches serving as Christian Symbol.