Sardis Tourist Attractions
Western Anatolia (Interior)Place: SartmustafaSituationThe site of the ancient Lydian capital Sardis, once celebrated for its proverbial wealth and for its Sanctuary of Artemis, lies some 100km/60mi east of Izmir near the little village of Sartmustafa on the edge of the Gediz (Hermos) valley, a tributary of the Sart Çayi (ancient Paktolos). The Lydian and Greek city lay on the west side of a steeply scarped acropolis some 200m/650ft high, while the later Roman town laid out in the form of a semi-circle occupied a lower terrace below the north side of the hill.
The oldest part of the town can be found on the acropolis. Excavations and restoration work have been carried out by a team of American archeologists.HistoryThe development of Sardis (Sardeis) was closely dependent on the emergence and growth of the Lydian Empire. It is not yet established, however, whether the Lydians, a Semitic people whose rulers claimed descent from the Assyrian sun god, founded the town themselves or whether they conquered and incorporated an already existing Maeonian settlement. The town enjoyed great prosperity from the reign of King Gyges (ca. 685 B.C.) to that of Kroisos (Croesus; 560-546 B.C.) thanks to its location at the end of an ancient trade route, exploitation of gold deposits from the River Paktolos and busy trade with the Orient. In 546 B.C. Sardis was conquered by the Persians under Cyrus and until 499 B.C. was the seat of a Persian satrap. From here the great Royal Road of the Persian kings ran from Ankyra (Ankara) to Susa with posting stations at four-hourly intervals.The city enjoyed a further period of prosperity under Roman rule. It was ravaged by an earthquake in A.D. 17 but was rebuilt by Tiberius. Christianity came to Sardis at an early stage, no doubt through the missionary activity of Paul. It is mentioned in Revelations (1:11 and 3:4) as one of the Seven Churches of Asia.
Towards the end of the 11th century Sardis passed to Seljuk rule. Thereafter it declined rapidly until it was burnt to the ground by the Mongols of Tamerlane (Timur-Leng) in 1402. The present village of Sartmustafa was not established until the beginning of the 20th century.
Temple of Artemis
On a low hill within the Lydian and Greek city of Sardis are the remains of the celebrated Temple of Artemis built by King Kroisos (Croesus) of Lydia in the sixth century B.C. It was destroyed by the Greeks in 498 and later rebuilt in the reign of Alexander the Great. The temple is unusually large, measuring 100x48m/330x155ft. Along each long side stood 20 Ionic columns with eight more at the each end. The temple itself was divided into two parts by a transverse wall. A Lydian inscription with an Aramaic translation which was found nearby provided the key to decoding the Lydian language. On the southeast side of the temple can be seen the ruins of a Byzantine chapel dating from the eighth century. A necropolis from the Lydian period is situated near the temple.
View from the acropolis
As a result of weathering and rain-water erosion practically nothing has survived on the acropolis of Sardis apart from the scanty remains of walls on the south and east sides. There are some superb views from the top of the acropolis.
Roman city (Gymnasium)
A few houses, a theater (fine view from the top) and a stadium measuring 230x45m/250x50yds are all that remain of the Roman city of Sardis. They are all thought to date from after the great earthquake (A.D. 17).Northeast of Sartmustafa on the road to Salihli, archeologists unearthed a A.D. second century gymnasium. To the southeast, they found other buildings including a synagogue and Byzantine shops and, some 650m/710yds to the east of the gymnasium, baths. The so-called "Bronze House" lies a little way north of the stadium.
Some 10km/6mi north west of Sartmustafa stands another large necropolis. Here scattered over an undulating plateau ("bin tepe", thousand hills) lie more than 60 conical burial mounds of varying size. Among them is an unusually large mound 69m/225ft high, traditionally believed to be the tomb of Kroisos' father, Alyattes, which is described by Herodotus (Bk 1, ch. 93).
Map of Sardis Attractions