Synagogue of Sardis is a magnificent building that I visited especially in the Seven Churches tours in Sardes Antique City in Salihli district of Manisa. It is known that Sardis, which was the capital of the Lydians during the Iron Age period, was founded in 1300 BC and was abandoned in 1200 AD. Sardes is one of the most important cities of its period because it was the first place where money was minted, the homeland of the famously rich king Croesus and the beginning of the King’s Road.
History of Synagogue of Sardis
It is estimated that the synagogue, which was known to be built in 212 BC, was used by the Jewish community which was approximately ten thousand people. It is understood from a Hebrew inscription that the emperor who gave the building to the Jewish community of the city could be Emperor Lucius Verus. There is a large pool in the middle of the synagogue. This pool is believed to be the place where young girls bless themselves before getting married. Three different doors are used to go from the “pool hall” to the main hall. Men and women used to pass through two separate doors and clergymen through their private door. The walls and locations of the hall attract attention with its mosaic, inscription and wall decorations which are kept in the Manisa Museum. To the east of the synagogue, there is the Honor Lodge and Rabbi Chair, where the notables of the city sat, where the problems of the city are discussed and decided.
The Sardes excavations, which were initiated before the First World War, have been continuing since 1958. There are two main universities working on the excavations which are Harvard and Cornell universities.
Sardis ruins and the synagogue of Sardis can be visited all days of the week. Sardis is open for visits between 09:00 – 19:00 in Summertime and between 08:00 – 17:00 in wintertime. The entrance fee is 14 Turkish Lira and tickets can be bought on the entrance. There are free of charge toilets provided at the entrance too. Sardis is a must-see place when it comes to touring biblical sites in western Turkey, especially for the groups who want to have ” Seven Churches of the Apocalypse ” tour. I also recommend Sardis for my guests who believe in Judaism. I hope one day you will have a chance to see this amazing place with a great history. You can write to me to ask questions about Sardis. You can hire a private tour guide to see Sardis ancient site by contacting me. See you soon, Hasan Gülday.