Ancient ‘gate of hell’ in Turkey to open to visitors in September
An ancient Roman “gate to hell,” which was believed to be a passage into the underworld in southwestern Turkey, will open to visitors in September.
The gate, which was named “Plutonium” after the god of the underworld, Pluto or Hades, was unearthed in the ancient site of Hierapolis-Pamukkale, which is also famous with its travertines and on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Located in the province of Denizli, this extraordinary landscape was a focus of interest for visitors to the nearby Hellenistic spa town of Hierapolis, founded by the Attalid kings of Pergamom at the end of the second century B.C. at the site of an ancient cult. Its hot springs were also used for scouring and drying wool, according to the UNESCO website.
Its thermal springs were believed to have great healing powers.
Ceded to Rome in 133 B.C., Hierapolis flourished, reaching its peak of importance in the second and third centuries A.D., having been destroyed by an earthquake in 60 A.D. and rebuilt.
Remains of the Greco-Roman period include baths, temple ruins, a monumental arch, a nymphaeum, a necropolis and a theater. Following the acceptance of Christianity by the emperor Constantine and his establishment of Constantinople as the “new Rome” in 330 A.D., the town was made a bishopric. As the place of St. Philip’s martyrdom in 80 A.D., commemorated by his Martyrium building in the fifth century, Hierapolis with its several churches became an important religious center for the Eastern Roman Empire, also referred to as the Byzantine Empire.
An Italian archeological team, headed by Prof. Francesco D’Andria, unearthed Plutonium in 2013, and the area is set to open to visitors in September as restoration works have been completed, according to local officials. A statue of Hades and of Cerberus, which is known as the “hound of Hades,” will be put at the gate’s entrance.
The discovery of the Plutonium cave has created a big wow effect, as the gate was thought to belch the “breath of death,” killing all those in its reach, except the divinely immune priests who led the animals to sacrifice.
However, scientists have provided an explanation for the mystery, and it’s not supernatural.
Denizli Museum Director Hasan Hüseyin Baysal told Anadolu Agency that a study in February showed that a fissure in the earth’s surface, deep beneath the site, emits carbon dioxide at concentrations so high it can be deadly.
“Even in winter months, we see some birds that fly too close over the gas flow suffocate and die,” he added.
Baysal noted the gate was of great importance both scientifically and archeologically.