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Tripolis ad Maeandrum: The Hierapolis Street.

One of the main streets of the ancient Phrygian city of Tripolis ad Maeandrum is the so-called "Hierapolis Street" as this city (Hierapolis) was the next important landmark to which we would arrive walking along this causeway. A few years ago it was excavated with great success. This is what you can see in it:

1.- The ruins of the nymphaeum.

Its beginning, still outside the city wall as well as coinciding with a crossroads, was marked by a nymphaeum (monumental fountain) from which three columns have been preserved belonging to the proper font and also a few white marble plates of those that delimited the basin in whose interior drained the previous font (photo 1).

2.- Gate of the late Roman wall where the "Hierapolis Street" penetrates the interior of the city.

Subsequently the Hierapolis street penetrates the interior of Tripolis through a door on the late Roman wall (photo 2). The deep grooves excavated in the entrance slabs by the passage of countless pedestrians and carts throughout the decades are remarkable.

3.- Tiled pavement of the "Hierapolis Street" located inside the walls.

Once inside the walls the street looks like a wide road paved with large slabs of limestone. It was built in the early days of the Roman domination of the city, being its state of conservation frankly good (photo 3).

4.- Ruins of the apse of the Byzantine church located at the beginning of Hierapolis Street.

We have hardly walked a few steps down the Hierapolis street when a glance to the right leads us to the remains of a small Byzantine church, with the usual narthex-nave-apse layout. It is particularly striking to see its almost circular apse provided with a sort of rectangular absidiol at its back (photo 4). It has been dated stylistically in the centuries 5-6th centuries, prolonging its use, with some modifications, until 10th.

5 and 6.- Two views of the magnificent cryptoportic recently exhumed in the site of Tripolis ad Maeandrum.

A few meters up the street we reach the one that can be described as the best preserved architectural structure of the city. It is a magnificent perfectly preserved cryptoportic (photos 5 and 6), on which there was an open area identified with the commercial agora of the city. The vault of the cryptoportic is built with flat blocks resting on a double parallel series of travertine arches with their stirrups resting on a row of rectangular pillars and on the north and south walls of the building. Such magnificent construction dates back to the second half of the second century BCE, at approximately the time when Tripolis passed into Roman hands. It was frequently used at least until the fourth century AD. In its last stage, the best documented archaeologically for obvious reasons, the cryptotoportic housed, in its northern half, a set of workshops dedicated to the work of metal, bone and ceramics. The production of these workshops was stored in the southern half of the structure. From there it was distributed to commercial establishments located in the commercial agora located, as we said above, above the cryptoportic.

7.- Vaulted building built in typical roman opus caementicium.

Adjacent to the cryptoportico stands a vaulted building built entirely in Roman opus caementicium (photo 7), which is not usual not only in Tripoli but, in general, in the Greco-Roman cities of Asia Minor. In its interior have been found valuable frescoes representing Jesus Christ flanked by two angels that have been related to a funerary context as late as the 9th century AD.

8.- Porticoed gallery flanking the Hierapolis street.

To the north of the vaulted building that we just knew the street of Hierapolis is flanked, in its eastern side, by a gallery porticated. The columns of the porticoes have been replaced in recent years (photo 8) as well as some large carved tombstones found during the excavations (photo 9). In any case this zone is still little excavated, surrounding the facades of virgin earth to the structures that we have just described. Undoubtedly there is still much to do and treasures to discover in the ancient Tripolis ad Maeandrum...

9.- Carved tombstone with geometric motifs located during the excavation of the porticoed area of Hierapolis Street.


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