General Information

Sardis was the capital of the ancient Kingdom of Lydia, a neo-Hittite kingdom that rose after the fall of the Hittites. It was, therefore, essentially non-Greek, compared to the other Greek colonies to its south such as Ionia, Doria, Caria and Lycia. It is known to have been the first place where coinage was used in trade. The importance of the city lied in its military strength and on its strategic location, as well as standing in an inlet from the Aegean on quite fertile ground.

Culture and History

The city is mentioned on the Iliad, along with Troy, due to its proximity to the region. At one point, the city even fell to the Cimmerians. It was the actions of Croesus, the King of Lydia, seated in Sardis, that started the military campaign of Cyrus II of the Persians against Western Anatolia. Afterwards, with Alexander the Great’s conquests, the city came under Helenic rule. The city even became the seat of the Roman conventus, and the capital of the province in the Byzantine times.

During the Byzantine times, due to the increasing importance of Constantinople and the development of new road systems tying regions together, Sardis remained further and further away from the main trade routes, to the point that it was abandoned sometime after the Mongol conquest of Timur in 1402.

Sardis also houses one of the Seven Churches of Revelation, and also one of the oldest Synagogues in Anatolia.