Sardis was the former capital of the Lydian Empire, and home of the first coins. Sardis also was famed for the largest gold reserves on the planet and was where the King with the Midas touch lived.( King Midas). Additionally, Sardis was the location of one of the Seven Churches written about by St. John in the Book of Revelations.
Recent excavations have focused on the height of its power, the 7th and 6th centuries B.C., when Sardis was the capital of the Lydian empire. From Izmir, it will take 1:15 hours to drive there through the Turkish landscape of tobacco fields and grape vineyards. Once there, you’ll be spending approximately two hours looking at the impressive ruins of:
The Synagogue: The discovery of this mammoth structure brought new ideas about the place of Judaism in the later Roman Empire and reversed previous assumptions about Judaism. It dates from the 3rd c AD, and at that time the Jewish community was very wealthy with Jews holding seats on the city council and other important offices. This changed the thinking that Christianity had eclipsed Judaism.
The Mammoth Baths and Gymnasium and the Temple of Artemis.(This structure was “twice” as large as the Parthenon in Athens and was considered one of the seven largest Greek temples when it was first built in 334 BC)! This was right after Sardis was liberated by Alexander the Great. As Artemis was the main goddess of fertility, the hunt, children and animals, people came from far and wide to worship in the mammoth 300’x150’ temple. In Roman times, Artemis became known as Diana, daughter of Zeus and twin of Apollo. There is proof that Artemis was worshiped as early as the 6th century BC as there was a free standing altar of Artemis.
Here you will be able to see the full splendor of the restored “façade” of the Roman gymnasium. Your guide, as always, will be a wealth of information making the history of “Lydia” become alive. As with most of Turkey, many cultures and influences have left their distinguished mark on this ancient treasure.
FYI:We have Harvard and Cornell Universities to thank for the discovery and the sponsoring of recent excavations of Sardis that unearthed the most impressive ancient synagogue yet discovered outside Palestine. You will be able to see and understand this creative feat as there are still many remains of the richly and beautifully appointed synagogue.