Sardis was the capital of the Kingdom
of Lydia, whose most famous
king was Croesus (560-546
B.C.E.), the first monarch to mint
coinage. During its heyday as a Roman city,
Sardis had a very large and prosperous Jewish
community which may have been
established here in much earlier
ruins of Sardis lie less 90 km (56
miles) east of Izmir,
a ride of 75 minutes along the main
highway eastward to Salihli and Ankara,
through rich fields of sultanas (grapes),
figs and tobacco.
get to Sardis, you can join an organized
tour (contact your hotel, or
any travel agency in Izmir), rent
a car, or take a bus.
Buses depart Izmir's mammoth bus
station (Yeni Garaj) every 30
minutes for Salihli (sah-LEEHH-lee);
tell the driver you want to get off
ruins of Jewish interest lie just
off the north side of the highway
in the village of Sartmustafa.
On the south side, one kilometer
from the village, are the impressive
ruins of the Temple of Athena.
early, the excursion to Sardis can
be done in a morning or an afternoon;
allow at least an hour, preferably
two, for seeing the ruins.
TO SEE IN SARDIS
Sardis plays no role in the history
of Jewish immigrants who came to
Empire from Spain and Portugal,
it is of interest because of its
extremely large and rich Roman
synagogue. In ancient Sardis,
Jews held seats on the city council
and important offices in the Roman civil
of the beautiful and richly-appointed
synagogue dating from the 200s C.E.
have been uncovered and restored;
much of the funding for restoration
came from American Jewish individuals,
congregations and philanthropies.
to the site approach the synagogue
along the Marble Way, a main
street lined with shops, many of
which were owned by Jewish merchants
and artisans, as signs indicate.
synagogue itself, of which only the
floor, some walls and columns remain,
is of grand proportions, with
wonderful mosaic floors and colored-stone
the synagogue is the restored facade
of the Roman gymnasium, or
school, a very impressive two-story
the south side of the highway, don't
miss the opportunity to see the remains
of the great Temple of Artemis,
of gigantic proportions.
and drinks are available in the village.
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