Tag Archives: Pamukkale

The Gateway to Hell at Hierapolis

One of the most visited sites in Turkey is the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Hierapolis–Pamukkalle—famous for its glistening white travertine formations.  Hierapolis is a huge archaeological site and one of the places we like to visit is the Temple of Apollo and the nearby Plutonium.  Usually, we visited the following place that was considered to be the Plutonium.

View looking north-northwest at the foundations and the staircase that led up to the Temple of Apollo.

To the right of the foundations a small arch is visible, this is where many thought the Plutonium was located—detail below.

View looking at the remains of the “so–called” Plutonium that is located on the right side of the image—the “shell–shaped” opening.

However, in March of 2013 Francesco D’Andria, professor of classic archaeology at the University of Salento and excavator at Hierapolis announced that he had excavated the well–known, to ancient authors at least, Plutonium at Hierapolis—known as the gate to the Underworld.

This past January I made a special effort to find D’Andria’s excavations.  This site is located about 50 yards south-southeast of the Apollo Temple.  Unfortunately, the area is fenced off and is not yet open to the public.

View looking southeast at the recent excavations of the “New Plutonium.

Note the doorway on the lower left, and the reflections on the water partially visible in the center of the image. There are apparently five long stairs to the left of the water. Evidently, people could watch rites associated with the Plutonium from these stairs.  According to ancient authors poisonous vapors were emitted from the opening.

The following reconstructed image is from a very useful article in “seeker.com” that describes the discovery in detail.  The following view is from the opposite direction than the image above.

Artistic reconstruction of the Plutonium from “seeker.com.”

To read the extensive, descriptive article on the Plutonium Click Here.