Hierapolis Excavations, excavation works in the ancient city of Hierapolis, close to Pamukkale, 20 kilometers north of the city center of Denizli. One of the biggest ancient cities in Turkey, the site joined the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1988. Excavation works and reconstruction of the ancient theater in Hierapolis have been supported by Tofaş, a Koç Holding company, since 2005 and the Vehbi Koç Foundation since 2013.
Thought to have been founded in the early second century BCE by Eumenes II of Pergamon, Hierapolis is said to take its name from Hiera, wife of Telephus, the legendary founder of Pergamon. Hierapolis is known as a “holy city” due to its many places of worship. Throughout history, the city was an important center of healing due to its proximity to the therapeutic underground springs of Pamukkale. Its original Hellenistic fabric remained until the great earthquake during the reign of the Roman emperor Nero (60 BCE), following which the city was completely rebuilt in the style of a typical Roman city. A martyrium was erected for the Christian Apostle Saint Philip after he was crucified in Hierapolis in 80 AD, making the city an important center for religious visits. It became a center for the episcopacy during the Byzantine era from the fourth century AD onwards. Towards the end of the twelfth century, the city came under the control of the Anatolian Seljuks.
The excavation and restoration work, which was started by Italian archaeologists in the 1950s, is now in the hands of a team led by Professor Francesco d’Andria of Salento University (Lecce, Italy). The team includes nearly 100 experts from a number of different countries, primarily Italy and Turkey. Among the most significant discoveries so far unearthed in Hierapolis are the ancient theater, the Necropolis, the hot springs, the Great Church, the St. Philip Martyrium, the Frontinus Gate, the Gymnasium, the Temple of Apollo and the Plutonium. Built almost 1,800 years ago, the amphitheater is one of the finest examples of Roman theaters. With renovation work now completed, it can be used for cultural events and has a seating capacity of 12,000 spectators.