Hieropolis is a fascinating place to visit as there are only a few historical facts known about the origin of the city. The Phrygians built a temple, probably in the first half of the 3rd century BC and this temple would eventually form the center of Hierapolis.
In 133 BC Attalus III bequeathed his kingdom to Rome and Hierapolis became part of the Roman province of Asia. Then in AD 17, during the rule of the emperor Tiberius, a major earthquake destroyed the city.
The city rebuilt and continued to expand until the year 60, during the rule of Nero, when an even more severe earthquake left the city completely in ruins.
After that the city was rebuilt in the Roman style with imperial financial support. During this period it grew to look as it does today.
The theatre was built in 129 for a visit by the emperor Hadrian. It was renovated under Septimius Severus (193–211). (It was destroyed during subsequent earthquakes and what you see today is a reconstruction taken place in modern times. )
During this golden ear of Hierapolis, thousands of people came to take the medicinal properties of the hot springs and so new building projects were started: two Roman baths, a gymnasium, several temples, a main street with a colonnade, and a fountain at the hot spring.
Hierapolis became one of the most prominent cities in the Roman Empire in wealth and its population of 100,000.
During the 4th century, the Christians entered and filled Pluto’s Gate (the Plutonium) with stones as a way of subjugating the religion of the time and propagating Christianity. At the same time the Roman baths were transformed to a Christian basilica.
In the early 7th century, the town was devastated first by Persian armies and then by another destructive earthquake.
In the 12th century, the area came under the control of the Seljuk sultanate of Konya before falling to crusaders under Frederick Barbarossa and their Byzantine allies in 1190. About thirty years later, the town was abandoned. In 1354, the great Thracian earthquake toppled the remains of the ancient city and the ruins were slowly covered with a thick layer of limestone.
Hierapolis was first excavated by the German archaeologist Carl Humann in 1887 and excavations still continue today.