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    • Day 69

      The synagogue of Sardis

      November 12 in Turkey ⋅ ☁️ 20 °C

      After warm goodbyes to Soykan, we pedal along the highway, on the side of which many shops and even motels can easily be found. Our next stop is the more than 35 centuries old city of Sardis, ancient capital of the 7th and 6th century BCE Lydian kings — including Craesus, famous for his riches (“riche comme Crésus” is a popular French expression). The Roman bath establishment was located next to a 12 metre wide road, which has remained a major highway for over 3000 years. It was certainly prosperous! You can see where there were shops, a large town entrance and the pools at three different temperatures.

      Probably the most unique part of the visit is the large synagogue, dating from the 3rd century. The local governor had sent an invitation across the Roman Empire to all Jews, to come and settle in his town, to enlarge and enrich it. The synagogue seems to be the largest in the western diaspora. What remains are the restored walls and floor of a large building that was beside the baths, with columns, mosaic floors and remarkable interior decorations. University groups from Columbia (New York), Harvard (Massachusetts) and Istanbul collaborate in the discovery, excavation and preservation.

      We continue our route on a small road in the vineyards, along a scenic range of mountains. Clouds and sunshine, patches of rain and fog among hills, peaks and cliffs, create for us a free show of natural beauty. A few kilometres before Alasehir, our destination, a large number of pipes seem to emerge from the hills into the vineyards, some converging into large fuming cooling towers. We guess that these are geothermal installations collecting the heat from the tectonic terrain. This is confirmed by Soykan via WhatsApp: locals use the energy for heating and electricity.
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    • Day 13

      Sardes "downtown"

      November 7, 2020 in Turkey ⋅ ☀️ 17 °C

      This is the city of another of the churches mentioned in Revelation. Sardes was also the capital of Lydia up until the Persian invasion.
      The 1st picture is a wall between the gymnasium (which is the foreground) and the baths behind. It is a restoration, but spectacular. If you look closely, I'm standing in the center arch. The scale is nothing short of monumental. 2nd is a closer look at the columns. I'll leave the inscriptons to the Greek scholars among you to decipher. 3rd is the first room of the bath, the tepidarium, right behind the monumental wall. 4th looks at one of the streets and shops.
      The last 2 are significant. This is an ancient synagogue, said to be the largest in Asia Minor and the 3rd largest in the world at the time. It is immediately left of the bath/gymnasium in the first picture. One thing I noticed is that the front of this sanctuary is architecturally the same as the apses in the early churches. I guess that doesn't surprise me as Christianity began as a movement within Judaism. The last picture looks from the forecourt over the fountain and basin used for ritual cleansing before entering the synagogue and then on into the sanctuary. NB. The mosaics on the floor are original
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    You might also know this place by the following names:

    Sardes, Sardis, سارد, Сарды, Сарди, Sardy, Σάρδεις, Sardeso, Sard, סרדיס, Szardeisz, Sardi, サルディス, სარდისი, 사르디스, Sardîs, सार्डिस, Sárdis, Sarudi, Sarde, Сард, 薩第斯

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