( ῾Ιεράπολις, sacred city), a city of Phrygia, situated above the junction of the rivers Lycus and Maeander, not far from Colossse and Laodicea, where there was a Christian church under the charge of Epaphras as early as the time of the apostle Paul, who commends him for his fidelity and zeal (Col 4:12-13). The place is visible from the theatre at Laodicea, from which it is five miles distant northward. Its association with Laodicea and Colossee is just what we should expect, for the three towns were all in the basin of the Mseander, and within a few miles of one another. It is probable that Hierapolis was one of the "illustres Asiue urbes" (Tacitus,
Ann. 14, 27) which, with Laodicea, were simultaneously desolated by an earthquake about the time when Christianity was established in this district. There is little doubt that the church of Hierapolis was founded at the same time with that of Colossae, and that its characteristics in the apostolic period were the same. Smith, in his journey to the Seven Churches (1671), was the first to describe the ancient sites in this neighborhood. He was followed by Pococke and Chandler; and more recently by Richter, Cockerell, Hartley, Arundel, etc. The place now bears the name of Pambuk-Kalek (Cotton-Castle), from the white appearance of the cliffs of the mountain on the lower summit, or, rather, an extended terrace, on which the ruins are situated. It owed its celebrity, and probably the sanctity indicated by its ancient name, to its very remarkable thermal springs of mineral water (Dio Cass. 68, 27; Pliny, Hist. Nat. 2, 95), the singular effects of which, in the formation of stalactites and incrustations by its deposits, are shown in the accounts of Pococke (2, pt. 2, c. 13) and Chandler (Asia Minor, c. 68) to have been accurately described by Strabo (13, 629). A great number and variety of sepulchers are found in the approaches to the site, which on one side is sufficiently defended by the precipices overlooking the valleys of the Lycus and Maeander, while on the other sides the town walls are still observable. The magnificent ruins clearly attest the ancient importance of the place. The main street can still be traced in its whole extent, and is bordered by the remains of three Christian churches, one of which is upwards of 300 feet long. About the middle of this street, just above the mineral springs, Pococke, in 1741, thought that he distinguished some remains of the Temple of Apollo, which, according to Damascus, quoted by Photius (Biblioth. p. 1054), was in this situation. But the principal ruins are a theatre and gymnasium, both in a state of uncommon preservation; the former 346 feet in diameter, the latter nearly filling a space 400 feet square. Strabo (loc. cit.) and Pliny (Hist. Nat. 5, 29) mention a cave called the Plutonium, filled with pestilential vapors, similar to the celebrated Grotto del Cane in Italy. High up the mountain-side is a deep recess far into the mountain; and Mr. Arundell says that he should have supposed that the mephitic cavern lay in this recess, if Mr. Cockerell had not found it near the theatre, the position anciently assigned to it; and he conjectures that it may be the same in which Chandler distinguished the area of a stadium (Arundell, Asia Minor, 2, 210). The same writer gives, from the Oriens Christianus, a list of the bishops of Hierapolis down to the time of the emperor Isaac Angelus. (See Col. Leake's Geogr. of Asia Minor, p. 252, 253; Hamilton's Res. in Asia Minor, 1, 514, 517 sq.;
Fellows, Lycia, p. 270; Asia Minor, p. 283 sq.; Cramer's Asia Minor, 2, 37 sq.).