Ruins of Sardis

İzmir & the North Aegean

Scattered around the village of Sartmustafa (or Sart), this archaeological site is a rewarding day trip from İzmir (80km away). It and Manisa can easily be visited on the same day. The ruins lie at the eastern end of the village, immediately north of the road, and include Byzantine shops, a synagogue, palestra (an open expanse where athletes trained and where the gymnasium and baths once stood), Roman villa, Temple of Artemis and 4th-century church.

Entry is via an 18m-long paved Roman road, past a well-preserved Byzantine latrine and a row of almost 30 Byzantine shops that belonged to Jewish merchants and artisans in the 4th century AD (Jews settled here as early as 547 BC). Turn left at the end of the Roman road to enter the synagogue (havra), impressive because of its size and beautiful decoration. The southern shrine housed the Torah.

Next to the synagogue is the palestra, which was probably built in the early 3rd century AD and abandoned after a Sassanian invasion in 616.

Right at the end is a striking two-storey building called the Marble Court of the Hall of the Imperial Cult, which, though heavily restored, gives an idea of the former grandeur of the building.

Continuing excavations on the way to the village to the south have uncovered a stretch of the Lydian city wall and a Roman villa with painted walls right on top of an earlier Lydian residence.

A sign points south to the Temple of Artemis, just over 1km away. Today only a few columns of the once-magnificent but never-completed building still stand. Nevertheless, the temple’s plan is clearly visible and very impressive. Nearby is an early Christian church dating from the 4th century AD.