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Lovin' Laodicea

February 4, 2018

Let's move to Laodicea! Haha. That's impossible. I've been 3 times though to Laodicea, and I'd go with pleasure 10 times more. It is now this serene antic city, on top of a hill, surrounded by mountains, in modern day Turkey.  Laodicea is still not falling short of its richness and high-up status it once held. Every evening, you can see in the distance, the city lights of  nearby Denizli like fire-flies filling the sky, be it misty or a clear path ahead. And I just gotta tell you guys quick, that in Denizli, a museum of ufology was recently established, due to the many UFO's reported in the sky, so maybe the fire-flies lights i was seeing from Laodicea were not really lights...just kidding.  The nearby Collosae town ( today's Honaz), a few miles from Laodicea,  on the same side, is another "UFO": it's swag was some religious syncretism, with Jewish, Gnostic, and pagan influences that in the first century AD were described as an angel-cult, all together venerating the archangel Michael who is said to have caused a curative spring to gush from a fissure in the Earth. Collosae was famous for its dark red wool coat, named collosinum, but also for the fact that they challenged Christ's role in the making of the world and its humanity. But since they ended up worshiping an archangel anyway...you get the idea, they fell into the Christianity mambo jambo. The whole area surrounding Laodicea has a special vibe that is very difficult to describe, unless you are actually there feeling it & meditating upon it in the sheer gold, pure air. 

 

                                           Photo (c): Glo PS

 I had to balance in my head the thought of having at my feet a prior-to-the-bible place,  with my desire of camping there, without actually needing any modern facilities. Too bad they don't let you camp in Laodicea though...( the receiving personnel is overly nice, they hand you maps of the ruins & you can even catch up with some archaeologists on site, the entrance is just 10 TL).  I would gladly move there, because the Laodiceans are so famous for their aqueduct, that you can still see their water pipes running underneath the city today! The water that was piped to Laodicea was so rich with calcium, that over time caused the pipes to clog. The engineers designed the aqueduct with vents covered with stones that could be removed periodically for cleaning. I mean nowadays we have entire villages with no aqueducts, we should be ashamed of ourselves!

 

Once upon a time, Laodicea was inhabited by the obviously fine laodiceans : Greek-speaking Syrians, Greeks, Romans and Romanized natives along with an important Jewish colony, of some 2000 Jewish families. In 62 AD, there were 50,000 Jews from Palestine in Laodicea, guess why? Because they liked the wine and the baths from Phyrgia (Phyrgia contained the whole of Laodicea, Hierapolis & Collosae, PS: in Hierapolis- City of the Sun, there is a Plutonian gate, considered the gate to the underworld). As some of the inhabitants were Jews, it explains the religious proximity with Jerusalem. Cicero records that someone named Flaccus confiscated the considerable sum of 9 kilograms  of gold which was being sent annually from Laodicea to Jerusalem, for the Temple. So yes, they were rich!

 Photo (c): Glo PS

They were so rich in fact, that in 60 AD ( Nero times), when they were struck by a devastating earthquake, they had their own money to restore Laodicea, and declined any type of imperial help from Rome. In fact they minted their own currency, with the faces of two famous doctors from Laodicea, Zeixus & Alexander. In time, benefiting from its advantageous position on a trade route, Laodicea became one of the most important and flourishing commercial cities of Asia Minor, in which large money transactions and an extensive trade in black wool were carried on. Eventually it received from Rome the title of free city. The wealth of the Laodiceans created among them a taste for the arts of the Greeks, as you can easily guess from its ruins. 

                                            Detailed Corinthian Columns, Photo (c): Nomaddeea

                              Photo (c): Nomaddeea

 

Laodicea in particular, was known not just for their highly sought after water pipes, but also for their ohthalmology cures, ear cures made of aromatic plants, religious views, the construction of baths,  a bouleuterion (Senate House),  2 theatres and 1 stadium. The fact that the city had two theaters is an indication of its prosperity. The seats were engraved with their owner's names. Going from one to the other will be your most pleasant walk, especially since you will pass through Temple A ( Temple of Artemis)...which has this breath-taking view in front, and under your feet, over a transparent terrace of glass..

Temple A ( of Artemis), Photo (c): Nomaddeea

 

                   Temple A ( of Artemis), Photo (c): Nomaddeea

 

                          Temple A ( of Artemis), Photo (c): Nomaddeea

 

 ...and than, on your way to the Northern theatre, you will hit the Temple of Zeus, which in turn will cause you to break your neck a little, looking at the ancient 'sky-scraper' columns that the temple once boasted.

Temple of Zeus, Photo (c): Nomaddeea

              Temple of Zeus, Photo (c): Nomaddeea

  Temple of Zeus-Evening, Photo (c): Nomaddeea

As I was enjoying the Northern theatre one evening, I felt a gentle push on my back, and ..I was alone...that was pretty scary, maybe an acient spirit from the theatre wanted me to stay there forever :). Boohooo....

 North Theate View, Photo (c): Nomaddeea

                                                  North Theatre View

 

A letter written by a Laodecian says: “I am happy. I have fortune and I am not in need of anything". Honestly, you can still feel this vibe in Laodicea. They also venerated Isis in the Nimphaeum as they found a statuette of hers in there.  Some even speculated that the Senate House could in fact have been an Odeum, covered by a roof, and used for lectures and concerts. 

Photo (c): Nomaddeea

                                                            Photo (c): Nomaddeea

 

The stadium in Laodicea, is among the only ones preserved from the ancient world, being built by Nicostratus and dedicated to Vespasian in 79 AD,  according to an inscription found here. The stadium is circular at both ends and was the total complex was 900 feet long. Used primarily for running races, the length of the track was fixed at 600 feet. Towards the west are considerable remains of a subterranean passage, by which chariots and horses were admitted into the arena, with a long inscription over the entrance. On the eastern side, the line of the ancient wall may be distinctly traced, with the remains of the Ephesus gate; there are streets traversing the town, flanked by colonnades ( Via Syria) and numerous pedestals.

 

                    Via Siria, Photo (c): Nomaddeea

Via Siria, Photo (c): Nomaddeea

 

North of the town, towards the Lycus, are many sarcophagi, with their covers lying near them, partly imbedded in the ground, and all having been long since rifled.

                                   Photo (c); Nomaddeea

 

The baths are located north of the stadium & they were dedicated to the emperor Hadrian and his wife Sabina around 124 AD. Just for the sake of some antic drama, Hadrian actually poisoned his wife because he was bisexual, and I guess she did not like the emperor to be that.

                             Photo (c): Nomaddeea

Laodicea was originally called Diospolis, or "City of Zeus".  As we know it today, is ascribed to the Seleucid King Antiochus II Theos in 261-253 BC,  that built this city in honor of his wife Laodice. Which is quite a sweet name. I love these men of antiquity: to build a city for your wife and name it after her, now that is nice ( I mean when you don't poison the wife of course..). What on earth does that leave to a woman today?  Ask for a base on the moon & a dinner in space please!  Let's not forget though, that the area was inhabited as far as 3000-3500 BCE...so that's a lot of cultures passing by. 

                      Temple of Artemis, Photo (c): Nomaddeea

 

If you wanna check in on Facebook in Laodicea, & hit the box office, you will see that it returns the location of "Laodicea on the Lycus", that's because the ancient city is built on the river Lycus,  situated on the long spur of a hill between the narrow valleys of two small rivers: Asopus and Caprus, which discharge their waters into the Lycus.

                                                            Box Office,  Entrance in Laodicea on the Lycus

 

You will also see very humble shepherds passing by.

                                                                                  Sheep near a Pomegranate Tree

 

And I was lucky to witness a little water rainbow on my way up.

 

The hill hosts a Turkish village, of very modest people, with pomegranate trees on each of the sides of the road,  and some noisy dogs that you need to watch out from.  A I was climbing peacefully, I got so rapidly pulled back to reality at the bark of an angry dog, that I nearly stopped to catch a sudden loss of breath. There is also a cute mini-van where they sell Turkish kebap if you are lucky and catch the owner of the mini-van at his post. 

                                                     Kebap Car, Laodicea, Photo (c): Glo PS

 

Laodicea is only 10 minutes away by mini-van from the bus station of Denizli, and also 10 minutes away from Pamukkale. Basically, it's in the the middle o these two more known locations. You can ask the van driver to drop you off where you see an indicator towards Laodicea ( Laodikeia in Turkish). 

 

Laodicea was made famous to our modern ear because of the Book of Reveleation, as it is one of the Seven churches of Asia addressed by name in the Book of Revelation. In modern times, I can say that the church in Laodicea looks fantastic ( is still under excavation), but is glorious and seems incredibly well preserved. 

 Laodicea Church from Book of Revelation, Photo (c): Nomaddeea

 

 SoIn John's vision, recorded in the book of Book of Revelation, Christ instructs John to write a message to the seven churches of Asia Minor. The message to Laodicea is one of judgement with a call to repentance. The oracle contains a number of metaphors: " I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth." 

 

The traditional view has been that the Laodiceans were being criticized for their neutrality or lack of zeal. However, a more recent interpretation has suggested that this metaphor has been drawn from the water supply of the city, which was lukewarm, in contrast to the hot springs at nearby Hierapolis and the cold, pure waters of Colossae, which was also nearby. 

Laodicea Church from Book of Revelation, Photo (c): Nomaddeea

Laodicea Church from Book of Revelation, Photo (c): Nomaddeea

 

Now, remember  I said Laodicea was famous also for its ophthalmology cures ( an ointment for the eyes made of Phyrgian stones) ..  here is something interesting:  According to Strabo, "there was a medical school in the city of Laodicea, where a famous ophthalmologist practiced. The city also lies within the boundaries of ancient Phrygia, from where an ingredient of eye-lotions, the so-called "Phrygian powder", was supposed to have originated."

 

What's even more interesting is that my Spanish friend Gloria, lost her eye-glasses somewhere in the lovely natural hot pools of near-by Pamukkale, and her work insurance stated she can get new ones for free if she loses them. Long story short, I went with her to the eye-clinic, and later to the eye-glasses store in Denizli, and we were both amazed of how fine the store looked, how professional all services were, and pretty amazed for the 100th time, of the Turkish way of showering us with gifts. The man there even fixed the fillets of my Ray Ban shades that were a bit lose. Obviously..for free. Welcome to Turkey!

                                           Eye Store in Denizli, keeping the traditions from Laodicea  Photo (c): Nomaddeea

 

The end.

Is only a New Beginning :)

Deea

 

 

 


 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  Drama Moments & Nomad Times : served with a lem on   on  a flying zebra, and a pinch of jazz. Tips, life tricks & international coffee sips guaranteed.

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Deea

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