Tourism in Turkey: discover the 7 churches of the apocalypse
The Seven Churches of Revelation are the sacred buildings that the apostle John mentioned in some parts in the Bible. Today, some vestiges of these ancient cities and churches remain and adorn the landscape of Turkey. Check out our post about the temples:
According to the Bible, the 7 churches described by John were located on a well-known trade route in today’s Turkish territory. Also, each church received a specific message to be delivered to the congregation. The first church was located in Ephesus (the first stop along the trade route), followed by Smyrna.
Then the great city of Pergamum, then Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and finally Laodicea, near modern-day Denizli. The messages were distributed in a sequence, allowing them to circulate throughout the Christian community at the time.
The letters were intended to correct the ills of the churches in each city and are still a point of interest and pilgrimage for Christian communities today.
The 7 churches
The first church is in Ephesus, where St. John lived. As Ephesus was an important Roman city, the congregation that attended the church there is believed to be very strong, with Christianity becoming the main religion among the inhabitants.
Today, visitors can enjoy Christian history. Mary’s house and St. John’s tomb are important places of interest. St. Mary is believed to have lived her last days here before being buried in the Church of Mary.
Izmir was a very rich and powerful city and competed with Ephesus and Pergamum for influence in the region. One of its most famous historical structures is the Agora – a preserved landmark of ancient Ionia.
Christianity in Izmir is believed to have developed out of the large Jewish population living in the area, as people deserted from Judaism and were baptized in the Christian faith.
Pergamum is one of the most interesting and visited ancient sites in Turkey. Dating back to the Archaic Period, the surviving structures include the Theater, the Temples of Athens and Dionysus, and the Gymnasium. Pergamum was a big city, and it had relevance in both the political and commercial arena.
Christianity in Pergamum conflicted with the city’s strong belief and history of worshiping pagan gods. This confrontation between Christians and the pagans is something that the letter to the Church addressed, praising those who stood firm in their Christian faith and admonishing those who persisted in the worship of pagan gods.
The fourth Church, the ancient Thyatira is now inside Akhisar. Once a city famous for bronze work and weaving, this modern city is now one of the largest tobacco and olive growing regions in Turkey.
The ancient church presented in the book of revelations can be found in the modern Ulu Cami (Great Mosque) of Akhisar.
The building is an old Byzantine church that was converted after the Ottoman conquest of the region. The Church of Thyatira was instructed to persist in its beliefs, despite the lack of a strong church in the city. Today, there are few suggestions that Christianity has thrived in the region.
Sardis was one of the richest Roman cities in the region. Home to a significant Jewish population, Sardis was a bustling city, important for the growth of the Church in the area.
Once a thriving commercial center, today it displays the ruins of the Temple of Artemis, a Jewish synagogue, a Byzantine church, and evidence of daily Roman life. Sardis is a smaller place, but it’s definitely worth exploring.
Philadelphia was a thriving city under Roman rule. Artifacts from Alásseis’ colorful past are found throughout the city. The Church of St. John and St. John’s is the main remaining Christian sites in the city.
Laodicea was, in ancient times, an important city in the area. The site was destroyed many times by earthquakes, before finally being abandoned.
Now, excavation and restoration projects are being carried out with caution, revealing the history and importance of the site. The basilicas built have intricate mosaics and are sure to delight visitors, and are definitely worth exploring.
House with church discovered in Laodicea
A 20-room monastery with a church inside was discovered during excavation and restoration work in the ancient city of Laodicea, which is on the “UNESCO World Heritage List”. According to experts, the house, which is about 2,000 years old, was built in an area of 2,000 square meters and is located in a very interesting place.
Excavation and restoration work in Laodicea, which dates back to 5,500 BC in the western province of Denizli, continue under the direction of Professor Celal Şimşek.
“Here, we know that the house was used from the first century AD and that the main planning system of the Roman Empire period remained intact until the seventh century A.D. We obtained interesting results in our work on the house.
We have seen the geographic failures of the earthquakes that have destroyed Laodicea over the years. We are working here protecting these fault lines. ”, Said the professional.
In Laodicea, the largest ancient city in Anatolia after Ephesus, excavations have been underway for a year. So far, a church, a theater, and two streets called Syria and Stadium have been revived.
Also, many important structures, such as a 1,750-year-old travertine block adorned with frescoes, a three-meter-long statue of the Roman emperor Marcus Ulpius Nerva Trajan, and the sacred agora were also discovered. Three graffiti engraved on a marble block, estimated to be 1,500 years old, were also found.
Speaking to state agency Anadolu, Şimşek said the team is currently trying to restore a 2,200-year-old theater from the Hellenistic era.
“This house with the church is very important in terms of obtaining data on how Christianity has spread in Laodicea since the middle of the first century AD,” he added.
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