The city located on the slopes of high mountains nearby river Buyuk Menderes (Meander) was set up in the 3rd century BC. It was called Laodikeia at that time. It is understood from the excavations carried out in the region that the first settlement was established in the Chalcolitic Age (4000 BC). 40 layers showing the various phases of settlements were ascertained from the excavations carried out in Beycesultan Tumulus. The Hittite, Phrygian, Lydians, Persian, Macedonian, Roman, Byzantium, Seljuk Civilizations, Sultanes and Ottoman Empire as in other Aegean cities reign in these abundant lands. Denizli has taken its name from the abundance of its underground and aboveground water though it is not close to sea. Other sources claim that the name of the city originates from Tenguzlu which means sea. And it is named as Ladik in Seljuk sources.
Denizli is a modern city today with its wide avenues, parks and hotels. It is possible to see 100-year old houses in the city. In Ataturk and Etnografya (Ethnography) Museums in centrum, the cupboard, bed whose headboard was made of brass, divan and a table in a baroque style in the room where Ataturk stayed at when he came to Denizli are displayed besides cultural materials such as clothes, jewelries, furniture, weapons, carpets and rugs dating back to the Ottoman Period.
Antique settlements such as Laodikeia, Tripolis, Hierapolis, Collossae, Dionisopolis, Eumania, Tabae, Apollo Temple, Sebastipolis, Anaya,Trapazepolis, Apollon Salbace (Medet Tumulus) can be seen around the city.
Laodikeia, on the south of river Lykos and 6 km north of Denizli, was one of the most important cities in the first century BC. Vestiges such as a large theatre, a small theatre, stadium, a gymnasium, a monumental fountain and Zeus Temple has survived today since that period. Tripolis, 40 km on the north of Denizli, was founded by Pergamum Kingdom. It acted as a border between Lydia, Phrygia and Caria areas. Buildings such as a theater with 10,000 people capacity, a bath some part of which still survives, a parliament building whose groundwork still survives, a castle and rampants, necropolis bearing graves date back to 1st, 2nd and 3rd centuries. Colosseai, founded on the northern slopes of Mount Honaz and by the bank of river Aksu was one of the six major cities of the Phrygians. There are a tumulus used to be an acropolis in the city experiencing its golden age during Persian sovereignty and graves dented into rocks on the north of the tumulus.
Two of the caravanserais on the Silk Road are in Denizli. The caravanserai Akhan, at a 7-km distance to Denizli which sets a good example of road architecture of the middle ages and on the entry to Akkale on Denizli-Afyon highway, dates back to 1253-1254. The building having a simple, rounded arched and marble entrance spreads over a 1000-square meter ground with its open and closed sections. The gate of the yard was embellished with geometrical designs. Cardak Han, in the town Cardak and on the left of Denizli-Afyon highway, dates back to 1230. The closed part of the inn in the east-west direction has a rectangular shape and the vast yard is square-planned.
Some of the places to be toured in the midst of nature are Camlik, Incilipinar or Gokpinar. The Yesildere Waterfall at a height of 55 meters having picnic grounds around it and Güney Waterfall, Karahayit Haytabey Waterfall, Homa Waterfall, Sakizcilar Asmaalti Waterfall are natural beauties of Denizli. Denizli is a thermal tourism heaven with its lots of thermal springs. The highest mountain of the Aegean Region, Honaz, at a height of 2528 meters above sea level is located on the 20 km east of Denizli. Honaz Mountain National Park, rich in forests till the height of 2000 meters, is a place drawing attention of botanicians worldwide. 43 species out of the 964 plant species are peculiar only to Honaz Mountain. Lake Kartal and centennial trees whose ages are 1000 amaze those having seen the trees. Waterfowl species in the lakes are also under preservation.
The Kaklik Cave, one of the caves around Denizli, is among sites of interest. In the cave at 15 meters depth, there are stalactites and stalagmites and stairs. It is said that the thermal spring inside the cave is a remedy for dermatitis diseases.
Denizli is a province having various opportunities for sports such as water sports, bicycle tours, angling, winter sports, paragliding and trekking. In addition to vegetable and aubergine dishes such as dry stuffed aubergine, aubergine savory pancake, pea salad with olive oil and vinegar, mallow salad, sprout salad peculiar to Denizli, 40 sorts of mushroom dishes at Mantar Restaurant on the exit of Antalya road can also be tasted. Especially the buttery mushroom dish cooked in a tile pot is very delicious.
It is possible to buy copper works, curios of roosters with long crow as a symbol of Denizli, samovars, jewelry at Kaleici Bazaar and towels and silk shirts at Babadaglilar Bazaar during the tour to buy gifts as especially textile industry in the city is very developed. Moreover, textiles specific to Buldan, designed, colored, silver, cotton and silk clothes and home textile products are very attractive.
Pamukkale (Hierapolis), a wonder of nature on the 18 km north of Denizli, reminds of a tale country over white clouds. The city being a city of health and trade during Roman sovereignty was founded in the 2nd century AD.
The antique city hosting many hotels and thermal springs and splendid remains is located on a high plateau. It is called “Holy City (Kutsal kent)” because of a great number of temples and religious buildings in the city. It was founded by Eumenes II, a Pergamum king, in the 2nd century BC and named Hierapolis after Hiera, the queen of the Amazons and the wife of Telephos who was the founder of Pergamum. The Hellenistic city preserved its structure till the earthquake in 60. It continued to be an important center during Roman and Byzantium periods. It was under Turkish sovereignty in late 12th century.
Current remains date back to the last establishment of the city during Roman period. In Hierapolis, works of Roman period such as main streets and gates, necropolis, rampants, a great bath complex, a theatre, Apollo Temple, nypheum (monumental fountains), agora, and water carriers welcome guests. There are St. Philip Martyrium and churches dating back to Byzantium period in the city. In Nekropol, lying on both sides of the main avenue for 2 km and being the largest among its counterparts in Anatolia, grave monuments over 1200 between late Hellenistic and early Christian periods are lined up. Graves made of limestone and marbles have two types: tumulus type and house-typed. There is the Domitian Gate with three arches and towers at the end of the pillared street. Baths dating back to the 2nd century and whose walls and vaults still survive have the characteristics of Roman architecture. Large and closed vaulted areas adjacent to the big hall are the Arkeoloji (Archeology) Museum where remains of the city are displayed. The museum is founded on a 14,000-square meters ground. Sculptures and sarcophagus are exhibited in an organized and lighted way. The construction in the best condition is the splendid theatre with 25,000 people capacity and bent over a slope like Greece theatres. It began to be built in 62 and finished in 206. The Apollo Temple dating back to the 3rd century is situated next to the theatre. The Plutonium Cavity nearby the temple was the sacred place of Pluto, the god of death and underground. Anitsal Çesme (Monumental Fountain) was generated at the end of the 3rdcentury. It is constructed as two-floured, Corinth-pillared and in the shape of a gallery. There are vivid mythological embossments such as gryphons, nymphs and Amazons on the architrave on the first floor of the fountain. There are two triton embossments facing one another and playing trumpets on the triangle-shaped pediment. There used to be a pool through the front of the fountain in the period it was constructed. The agora construction whose four sides are surrounded by pillars is two-floored. Rampants with four entrances surround the northern, southern and eastern part of the city.
St. Philip Martyrium
The Martyrium on a square plan with seizes 20mx20m is an octagonal construction dating back to the late 4th century. It was built as a religious center and a grave for the memorandum of the martyrdom of St. Philip, one of the Apostles of Jesus Christ, in Hierapolis. It became one of the attractive places after converting into Christianity and renamed as Metropolis. There are a cathedral, the Direkli Church and two other churches in the centrum. And at the beginning of the 6th century the central hall of Buyuk Hamam was turned into a church.
Pamukkale Travertines on the foot of Mount Cokelez are rocks formed by subsiding as a result of various natural events and chemical reactions. It has an appearance of a cotton castle (Pamukkale) as a result of the fact that the thermal spring rich in calcium flowed from the top for centuries. The thermal spring having been used since antique ages and at a temperature of 35,6 °C form ponds while flowing downwards from terrace-shaped travertines, it turns into white because of the fact that carbon dioxide in water volatile and calcium carbonate is sediment (the sediment in the form of stiffens by time) and spreading of flowing, duration and the effect of sunrays. Pamukkale is listed in the world heritage by UNESCO.
Though it is forbidden to walk on the travertines contrary to the past for the preservation of beauties offered by nature, this extraordinary formation is worth seeing. Travertines built in special areas are available for touring to eliminate the curiosity of visitors. In addition to the fantastic appearance of the travertines, Pamukkale is very attractive thanks to its thermal ponds rich in minerals, cool in summer and mild in winter and having healing and beautifying characteristics.
Karahayit, on the northwest of Pamukkale, is famous for its frigid water. It is a thermal spring providing good accommodation opportunities. Red, green and white travertine layers are formed as a result of mine oxides in thermal springs with the temperature of 60 °C. There are also shops where gifts are sold in the area. Festivals including an international song competition are held in Pamukkale in June every year.