Martyrium of St Philip the Apostle


The extraordinary octagonal Martyrium of St Philip the Apostle at Hierapolis is built on the site where it's believed that St Philip was martyred. The arches of the eight individual chapels here, marked with crosses, originally had heptagonal interiors. Views from here are wonderful but few of the regular tours bother to bring visitors up this far so you may well have the site and vista to yourself. Tracks head uphill from the Roman theatre.

Differing accounts from ancient sources have created confusion over precisely which Philip was commemorated here – if it really was Jesus' apostle, he was allegedly hung upside down from a tree after challenging the pagan snake-worshippers at their nearby temple. An apocryphal ancient source claims that at Philip's death, a yawning abyss opened in the earth, swallowing up the Roman proconsul, the snake-worshippers, their temple and about 7000 hapless bystanders. Whichever Philip was martyred here, his body was reportedly found about 40m away, in a Byzantine structure excavated by Italian archaeologists. That sensational news of August 2011 revived interest in St Philip and Hierapolis. Considering that his martyrium clearly suffered fire damage in the 5th century, it is possible that the unearthed body was indeed relocated from the martyrium at that time.

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