Turkey // The North Aegean //

The Gymnasium and synagogue

The first of Sardis’s two sites lies just north of the road on the eastern edge of Sartmustafa. Entry is via a partially revealed, marble-paved Roman avenue, which passes various shops, though low walls with discernible doorways are all that remain.

A break in the shopping mall leads into the restored synagogue. The walls are covered with copies of the original coloured stonework, now housed in the Manisa Museum; the extensive floor mosaics are, however, original.

Adjacent to the synagogue, the gymnasium and bath complex was once the city’s most prominent building. Its Marble Court, the entry from the palaestra to the baths, has been spectacularly restored to its appearance when first built in 211 AD. The walls behind the columns would have had marble revetments and the podia would have supported statues, forming a splendid multistorey facade implying association with some imperial cult. Behind the court are the remains of a plunge-pool and rest area.