Pluto’s Gate

(c) 2014, Robyn LaRue

(c) 2014, Robyn LaRue


Apologies for the delay.  I just noticed that this Bucket List item did not automatically post this morning.   I pray that I do not catch anyone’s wrath…


The location in today’s post is not especially horrific, but I find it incredibly fascinating.

In 2013, archaeologist uncovered a cave to what they believe is a gateway to hell in Turkey.  Known as Pluto’s Gate (or The Plutonion of Hierapolis), the site is located in the ancient city of Hierapolis, which is now know as Pamukkale.

The site, while in its infancy of research, could potentially hold a history bathed in torture and sacrificial rites.  The peculiarity of Pluto’s Gate is that the opening of the site is filled with mephitic vapors that are extremely lethal.

Strabo, a Greek geographer (64 BC – 24 AD) explained, “ This space is full of vapor so misty and dense that one can scarcely see the ground.  Any animal that passes inside meets instant death.  I threw in sparrows and they immediately breathed their last breath and fell.”

The archaeologists uncovered the ruin while reconstructing a route to a thermal spring.  They believe that the Pamukkale’s springs originated from this cave.  Around the cave ruins are steps where specters would have sat an watch sacrificial rites, but keeping distance to the opening for the fumes would kill any who breathed in the carbon dioxide gasses.  However, pilgrims who were devoted to the lord of the underworld were given the gifts of small birds to take into the cave.  Current research of antiquity has not yet uncovered if those pilgrims ever returned.

Strabo claimed that the eunuchs of Cybele (an ancient fertility goddess) were able to enter the cave, through the fumes, unaffected.  He added that they held their breath as long as possible and potentially gained immunity from their “menomation [sic]”, “divine providence”, or “certain physical powers that are antidotes against the vapor”.

An interesting place to visit.  However, I do not think I will make my way into the cave should I ever happen upon the The Plutonion of Hierapolis.


"Plutonium-2" by Ömerulusoy - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

“Plutonium-2” by Ömerulusoy – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

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