History of Laodicea
Laodicea Ancient City and the Laodicean Church in the Revelation is located in the north of Denizli Province, also known as Pamukkale, in western Turkey. Laodicea is a good example of a Hellenistic city. Today town is still hosting The Church of Laodicea. Laodicea was built by the Seleucid King Antiochus the Second in the middle of the 3rd century BC.
Laodicea city was founded by Antiochus the second in the name of his beloved wife Laodike who was his wife and the queen. Eventually, in the year 130 BC, the entire region of west Turkey including Laodicea became a part of the Roman Empire.
Things to See in Laodicea
Various temples including Laodicea Church, necropolis areas surrounding the ancient city, Peristyle houses, Latrina, churches, and monumental streets were unearthed Laodikeia excavations. Laodicea excavations, which started in 2002 transformed Laodicea into a very rich open-air museum and a living archeology park thanks to the teams working with great devotion.
The grand theater was built in the Roman architectural style contrary to the Greek theater-type on the northeast side of the ancient city. Its scene has been completely destroyed but its orchestra section is preserved in very good condition. The grand theater had about 20,000 people capacity.
The little theater is located about 300 meters northwest of the big theatre. It was built in accordance with the Greek theater style because of the terrain underneath it. Its scene has been completely destroyed, and there are also deteriorations in the seating section and its orchestra. It is large enough to accommodate approximately 15,000 people.
The section from the Syrian gate to the Eastern Byzantine gate is about 500 meters long and has not been fully excavated yet. The section from the Eastern Byzantine gate to the Caracalla Fountain is 400 meters long and has been completely unearthed.
Stadium and Gymnasium
The stadium and Gymnasium of Laodicea lie southwest of the city. These two structures of the stadium and the gymnasium were built to form a unity. The length of the stadium is 350 meters and its width is 60 meters. The building, which was built in a form similar to an amphitheater, has 24 rows of sitting steps. Most of it has been destroyed.
Monumental Fountain is located on the corner of the main street. It is a Roman period structure. It was repaired during the Byzantine period.
Parliament Building is a monumental building, which has a rectangular plan, extends in the east-west direction. The main entrance is on the east side.
Central Agora and Bath Structure
The rectangular planned structure was named the Central Agora because it is located in the center of the city. The central agora is located on Syria street. In the center of the agora, a column was placed in the Early Byzantine Period.
Temple of Zeus
It is located in the eastern part of the colonnaded street of the ancient city of Laodikeia, between the small theater and the Nymphaeum.
The Great Church of Laodicea
The great church of Laodicea was built adjacent to the street in the south of the colonnaded street. Only a part of the carrier sections remained standing. It would not be wrong to say that the Great Church of Laodicea is the most important building Laodicea ancient city. The church, which was discovered, excavated, and restored in 2010, was covered with a roof and made safely observable thanks to a glass walkway.
Laodicea Church, which is one of the seven important churches of Anatolia, which is also mentioned in the Bible, was visited by many Christians as one of the most important pilgrimage centers of its time.
The Church of Laodikeia, which was unearthed as part of the excavation and restoration works carried out in the Ancient City of Laodicea dates to the 4th century AD. Excavations and restorations made here were awarded the European Union Cultural Heritage/Europa Nostra Awards 2016 Honorable Mention Award for its fundamental conservation, repair, arrangement, publication works.
Council of Laodicea
The principal concerns of the council concerned regulating the conduct of church members. The council expressed its decrees in the form of written rules or laws. Decisive decisions were taken for Christianity, which was convened in Laodicea. According to the Byzantine writers Zonaras and Balsamon, who lived in the 12th century, church fathers from many regions of the Province of Asia came together at this meeting. At the meeting, 60 laws in total which were universally accepted by all churches were decided and written.
Laodicea and Christianity
The city had one of the famous Seven Churches of Asia Minor or better known as Seven Churches of the Revelation and became a religious center in the Early Byzantine Period. The Church of Laodicea is very important for the Christian world. Because it has been the Holy Pilgrimage Center since the 4th century. There was also a significant Jewish community in Laodicea. Thanks to its location far from politically strict centers, different religious beliefs, philosophies, and Christianity could gain weight here.
It is thought that the establishment of the church in this city may have happened when Apostle Paul had discussions on the Holy Bible and Christianity in Ephesus for two years in the meeting hall of Tyrannus. It is important that the Laodicea Church is mentioned in the Bible and still open to visitors in our day.
The church was built during the Great Constantinus’ rule, in the year 313, after the Milan Decree finally allowed Christians freely practice their religion. In this respect, it remains one of the oldest and most important sacred structures of the Christian world. Laodicea church is an important pilgrimage church.
The letter sent by Saint John the Evangelist to the church of Laodicea, which symbolizes the period of degeneration in the church chronology, is very important. In the first century, Laodicea was famous for its eye drops obtained from a stone called Frigia stone. Eye drops are said to have been discovered by Galen who was the most famous doctor of antiquity. The city made a lot of money thanks to this medicine which had no alternative. No remains related to the workshop or hospital where this drug was made have been found so far.
Because of this eye drop, Jesus Christ addressed this church, saying, “I advise you to buy ointment to apply to your eyes to see” referring that Laodiceans had great earthly vision thanks to medicine but they were getting blind in seeing afterlife thanks to the spoiled attitude they had. The church in Laodicea is also accused of being lukewarm.
The waters of Hierapolis (Pamukkale) ancient city flowed hot and the Colessea ancient city’s waters flowed cold. Waters coming from far away springs through pipes would get lukewarm until they reached Laodicea. For this reason, people in this city have been called “lukewarm”. This is actually an analogy. Because Laodicean people are not literally devoted Christians (warm) or real pagans (cold). They were in between, they were lukewarm.
Letter to Laodicean Church
“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:
These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, “I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.”
But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire so that you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so that you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes so that you can see.
Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.
To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
Hire Tour Guide for Laodicea and the Seven Churches of the Revelation Tour in Turkey
Today the church of Laodicea is one of my favorite churches in Turkey. I understand the anger of Jesus Christ to this church when I interpret this letter. In my opinion, the Laodicea church and Letter in Revelation to Laodicea should still be a guide to us. The values and judgments of the Holy Bible are still valid today and will be in the future.
I hope someday in the future we can visit this church and the ancient city of Leodikya with you. Contact me to learn more about Laodicea and to hire a professional, licensed tour guide to visit Laodicea Church from the Seven Churches of Asia Minor and the ancient city of Laodicea. See you soon, Hasan Gülday