Denizli Province is a province of Turkey in Western Anatolia, on high ground above the Aegean coast. Neighbouring provinces are Uşak to the north, Burdur, Isparta, Afyon to the east, Aydın, Manisa to the west and Muğla to the south. It is located between the coordinates 28° 30’ and 29° 30’ E and 37° 12’ and 38° 12’ N. It covers an area of 11,868 km², and the population is 931,823. The population was 750,882 in 1990. The provincial capital is the city of Denizli.
There are traces of prehistoric cultures throughout the province, including evidence of pre-Hittite cultures and the Hittites themselves. The Hittites were followed by Phrygians, Lydians and Persians, and then cities founded by the ancient Greeks and Alexander the Great. The first real settlement was the city of Laodicea on the Lycus which was established by King Antiochus II for his wife Laodice. Laodicea is located 6 km north of the city of Denizli.
The city of Hierapolis was established around 190 BC by the Pergamene Kingdom, one of the Hellenistic states of Anatolia. The calcified terraces and pools of Pamukkale (Cotton Castle) now stand below the ruins of Hierapolis. The two cities, Laodicea and Hierapolis later came under Roman rule, and with the division of the Empire in 395 were left within the boundaries of the East Roman Empire.
The Christian era
The province has strong biblical connections: in the Book of Revelation, John the Evangelist hears a loud voice which sounded like a trumpet when he was on the island of Patmos. The voice says: "Write down what you see and send the book to the Churches in these seven cities: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea". The Church of Laodicea was a sacred place even in pre-Christian times, and is still visited by Christians today, although it lost its importance to a great extent during Byzantine rule.
The Turkish era
Turks were first seen in Denizli in 1070 when Afşın Bey, under the control of the Seljuk Sultan Alp Arslan, raided the area. The second and third Crusades fought here against Kazıkbeli, who managed to flee with a small force to Antalya. Later, after the Turks had established control of the ancient cities, they moved south to the site of the present city of Denizli, where drinking water was brought through stone pipes. The name Laodicea slowly changed into “Ladik” then since the 17th century other names were given “Tonguzlu”, ”Tonuzlu”, ”Tenguzlug”, ”Donuzlu” and finally “Denizli”.
After World War I, when the Greek army arrived in İzmir on May 15, 1919, one of first centres of Turkish resistance formed at an open air meeting in Denizli. A Turkish militia formed lines on the Menderes organized by Yörük Ali and Demirci Efe, involving large numbers of volunteers from the local peasantry. Stiffened by the Turkish regular army, Greek forces were repelled, and Denizli remained in Turkish hands throughout the Greco-Turkish War.