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SEVEN CHURCHES OF REVELATION IN TURKEY

SEVEN CHURCHES OF REVELATION IN TURKEY

22.11.2020

Seven Churches of Revelation in Turkey

The Seven Churches of Revelation areancient churches that St John wrote about in the Bible. Each church received aletter calling them to repent for their sins and correct their current course.When the letters to the churches were sent, there were active Christiancommunities in each of the towns. Today, though some remnants of these ancientcities and their churches remain, others have merged with the modern Turkishcities that now dot the landscape.

According to legend, the7 churches were all on a well-worn trade route, each church received a specificmessage, to be delivered to the congregation. The first church was located atEphesus, the first stop along the trade route, followed by Smyrna, now Izmir,then the great city of Pergamon, then Thyatira, wealthy Sardis, Philadelphiaand finally Laodicea, near modern-day Denizli. The messages were distributed inorder, allowing them to circulate throughout the Christian community of theage. The letters were intended to correct the ills of the churches in each cityand are still a point of interest and pilgrimage for Chistian communitiestoday.

Because of the proximityof the churches, it is easy to see them over a weekend trip, but why not takethe time to explore the region more fully? The Aegean has many treasureswaiting for you to discover!

1. Ephesus

The first church is inEphesus, where St John lived. Because Ephesus was an important Roman city, theChurch congregation here is believed to have been quite strong, withChristianity eventually becoming the city’s chief religion. Today, visitors canenjoy taking in the sites of the Roman city and key sites of Christian history.Mary’s house and the tomb of St. John are key sites of interest, St Mary isbelieved to have lived out her days here before being buried in the Church ofMary.

2. Smyrna - Izmir

Smyrna in ancient timeswas a very wealthy and powerful city, indeed it vied with Ephesus and Pergamonfor influence in the region. Today, Smyrna is located within modern-day Izmir,a city that has almost continuously been inhabited for centuries. The ancientcity of Smyrna was largely absorbed into the city and, as such, there areremnants of ancient life throughout. The most important historical structure isthe Agora, one of the best-preserved structures of ancient Ionia. Christianityin Smyrna is thought to have developed out of the large Jewish population thatused to live in the area, as people defected from Judaism and were baptised inthe Christian faith.

3. Pergamon

Pergamon is one ofTurkey’s most interesting and visited ancient sites. Dating as far back as theArchaic Period, the surviving structures include the Theatre, the Temples ofAthena and Dionysus and the Gymnasium. Pergamon was a large city, significantin both political and commercial arenas, citizens would have enjoyed full, busylives. Christianity in Pergamon was at odds with the city’s strong belief andhistory of worship of Pagan Gods. This clash of the Christian and the Pagan issomething that the letter to the Church addressed, praising those who held fastin their Christian faith and admonishing those who persisted in the worship ofpagan Gods.

4. Thyateira - Akhisar

The fourth Church,ancient Thyatira now lies within Akhisar. Once a city famed for bronze work andweaving, this modern city is now one of Turkey’s largest tobacco and olive oilgrowing regions. The ancient church featured in the book of revelations may befound in modern Akhisar’s Ulu Cami (Great Mosque). The building is a formerByzantine church that was converted following the Ottoman conquest of theregion. The Church of Thyatira was told to persist in their beliefs, despitethe lack of a strong church in the city. Today there are few suggestions thatChristianity once thrived in the region.

5. Sardis - Sart

Sardis was one of thewealthiest Roman cities in the area. Home to a significant Jewish population,Sardis was a bustling city important to the growth of the Church in the area.Once a thriving trade centre, Sardis today features the remains of the Templeof Artemis, a Jewish synagogue, a Byzantine church and evidence of daily Romanlife. Sardis is a smaller site but definitely worth the time to explore.

6. Philadelphia - Alaşehir

Philadelphia was athriving city under Roman rule. Modern-day Alasehir (God’s City) is a titularsee of the Roman Catholic Church. Artefacts from Alasehir’s colourful past arefound throughout the city. The Church of St John and the St Jean Church are thekey remaining Christian sites in the city.

7. Laodicea - Denizli

Laodicea was, in ancienttimes, a key city in the area. Important for trade and as an importantChristian site, Laodicea lies a few hours to the north of modern Denizli. Thecity was ruined many times by earthquakes, before ultimately being abandoned.Now, excavation and restoration projects are being carefully carried out,revealing the history and importance of the site. The reconstructed Basilicasfeature intricate mosaics and are sure to delight visitors and are mostdefinitely worth the time to explore.

The best way to see the Churches ofRevelation is to hire a car and trip around the region at your own leisure. Thesites, each part of an ancient trade route, are happily situated between thecoast and the green interior. Don’t forget to stop by Sirince and sample theirdelectable fruit wines or dangle your toes in the calcium cliff of Pamukkale!