In the ancient Phrygian city of Hierapolis, a group of archaeologists recently discovered what they believe to be Pluto’s Gate, a celebrated and infamous portal into the underworld of Greco-Roman mythology that was once believed to be, quite literally, one of the gates into the depths of hell.

The find was uncovered in what is now known as the city of Pamukkale, located in southwestern Turkey, where a modernized civilization and booming tourist trade dwell over the top of the Hierapolis ruins. Ever since around the second century and before the Common Era, people have believed that the hot springs of this area possessed certain healing qualities – and many still visit for this reason.

Once the land was officially declared a World Heritage Site, all of the hotels and roads were demolished and removed, and stricter regulations were placed on those people who still set out to bathe in the waters.

Edal Anton Lefterov

Pluto’s Gate (in Latin, Plutonium) however, is not revered for its capacity to heal, but rather for its mystic legacy as a looming death trap which emits lethal and repugnant gasses. Lore tells us that these gasses have indiscriminately and instantly killed nearly every man and beast who attempts to pass through. In fact, this cavern has seemingly existed as a treacherous anomaly since before the dawn of time; somewhere around 24 AD, Greek geographer Strabo is said to have penned this of his experience with the elusive hell’s gate.

“This space is full of a 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 and fell.”

How nice for the sparrows.

Researchers from the University of Salento say they were able to locate the long-lost cave of death by reconstructing elements of the Pamukkale springs. Ultimately, their discovery not only turned up Pluto’s Gate, but also an area of worship above the deadly opening, where it is believed that only hallucinating priests were permitted to stand, while sacrificing bulls to Plato.

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During the early years, the site was considered lethal to all who breathed its toxic vapors; all with the exception of the castrated priests of Cybele, commonly referred to as the Galli. These holy eunuchs bamboozled the general public by creating the illusion that they were immune to the gasses, by either holding their breath or locating pockets of oxygen on the floor.

Scientifically speaking, Pluto’s Gate is no more than a cave full of carbon dioxide gas, which is present as a result of underground geological activity. Yet it was once believed that those who slept near the cave would receive grand visions of prophecies, which were likely just hallucinations caused from too much exposure to the poisonous gas. We've all been there.

Scientists say that ever since the Christians attempted to destroy Pluto’s Gate during the 6th Century AD, its existence has been nothing more than a minute figment of some ancient literary and historical texts that are sure to become more clear once a reconstruction of the site is complete. We'd love to see it for ourselves.


If you go, it is not necessary that you first cut off your penis in the name of a goddess, but considering the facts, it may still be a good idea to either take an oxygen tank or a steady supply of yellow canaries. Ironically, it may be easier to board a commercial airliner and pass through customs with a suitcase full of screaming birds.

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