King Croesus ruled here from 585 BC, expanding Lydia to cover the western third of Asian Turkey. One reason for his success and legendary wealth was that the river Pactolus through Sardis had alluvial gold, minted into gold coinage and - crucially - with standards set for purity. That meant you could trust Lydian money in an era when other coins were suspect. Croesus was overthrown by the Persians in 547 BC and probably didn't survive long after. Then Sardis became a major city of the Persian Empire and the western terminus of the Royal Road, the ancient imperial highway linking to the Silk Road.
Sardis eventually became part of the Roman Empire. It was destroyed in an earthquake of 17 AD but rebuilt, and later in that century hosted one of the Seven Churches of Asia addressed in the New Testament Book of Revelation. Its author St John of Patmos variously harangued, exhorted or praised these churches - overall he preferred haranguing and Sardis caught its share. The city lost its importance as Constantinople grew, as it wasn't on any direct route, as modern travellers from Istanbul are destined to discover.
Get in edit
By bus edit
Sart is on the main highway from Ankara and Konya to Izmir. Long-distance buses run every couple of hours, taking 6 hr 30 min from Ankara via Afyon and Uşak to Salihli, and continuing to Turgutlu and Izmir. The adult single fare in 2022 is about 250 TL; operators include Metro Turizm, Pamukkale and Flixbus. You may have to get off at Salihli and change to local transport, but they might drop off / pick up at Sart village crossroads on D300.
There are no direct buses from Istanbul: change in Turgutlu or Manisa to avoid riding all the way into Izmir then out again.
Local buses from Izmir stop at the crossroads before heading on to Salihli.
By road edit
Follow D300, a fast divided highway. This has been re-aligned to pass between the old and modern village centres: turn off onto the old route Kenen Evren Cd, and the antiquities are along it. No problem if you miss it, just turn south at the main crossroads.
By train edit
There is one evening train from Izmir Basmane, the Konya Mavi Treni (Blue Train) taking 2 hr 40 min via Manisa to Salihli, and continuing to Afyon and Konya. The westbound service leaves Konya at 19:00 to reach Salihli before 05:00 and Izmir at 07:30.
The regional train between Izmir, Manisa, Salihli and Alaşehir remains suspended in 2023.
From Salihli (where the station is central in town) take a dolmuş or taxi to Sardis - trains rumble through it but don't stop.
Get around edit
Walk everywhere, though it's quite a large area to walk around.
- City walls and ancient house ruins lie here and there on the rising ground south of Kenan Evren Cd. The city was fortified around 7th century BC.
- 1 Gymnasium, Belediye Cd 124, ☏ . Daily 08:00-17:00. This is a large Roman bath and leisure complex, partly reconstructed. There's also a large synagogue with mosaics. The Jewish population was established by the 3rd century BC, and encouraged by Antiochus III; they left with the Greeks after 1922. Adult 70 TL (about €2.30).
- 2 Temple of Artemis (Artemis Tapınağı) is seen on the same ticket. It's a large Hellenistic temple in Ionic style, started around 330 BC but not finished. (Surely they didn't run out of money?) It was damaged by the earthquake of 17 AD and the floods of 312 but diligently repaired by the Romans.
- The Pyramid 200 m north of the temple is more accurately a tumulus grave. They dot the area and were mostly built around 7th-6th century BC but wrecked in later ages.
- 3 Acropolis or Castle (Sart Kalesi) is tumbledown, one for taking views from rather than viewing. It was in use in the Byzantine era to 8th century AD.
- The amphitheatre and stadium 1 km east of the temple are almost lost among modern farmland.
- " . . . I have not found thy works perfect before God . . . " - Revelation Chapter 3 berates the Christian community of Sardis.
Walking around the site will be activity enough. See Go Next for Boz Dağ.
- Sardes Büfe sounds like a cafe but it's a small supermarket next to Kardeşler restaurant, open daily 07:00-22:00.
- Kardeşler Lokantası, Kenan Evren Cd, ☏ . Daily 08:00-22:00. This is your best option for a sit-down meal in Sart village.
- Sardes Pide 50 m west is the alternative.
- Highway crossroads has three small pide places.
- Salihli has lots more choice.
- The cafes serve tea, coffee and soft drinks. Elf Restaurant serves alcohol: it's at the east junction of Kenan Evren Cd and the main highway, open daily 10:00-00:00.
- ÖRS Vineyard is in Salihli, no tours.
Sart and its approach roads have 4G from all Turkish carriers. As of July 2022, 5G has not rolled out in Turkey.
Go next edit
- Bin Tepeler are a series of an impressive number of burial mounds along the road north to Gölmarmara. Built for the Lydian royalty, they are easily discernible from their flatter agricultural surroundings.
- Alaşehir hosted another of the Seven Churches, when it was known as Philadelphia. Revelation praises it: " . . . thou hast kept the word of my patience . . . " not like those slackers in Sardis.
- Uşak's museum to the east hosts the Lydian treasures and excellent recreations of the Lydian daily life.
- Boz Dağ is the mountain to the south, with forest hikes and even a brief winter ski season. A scenic road crosses to Birgi and Ödemiş.
- Izmir is the lively modern city at the heart of the region. As the historic city of Smyrna, Revelation said it would suffer persecution, and it did.
- Istanbul to Izmir is a long distance itinerary, and one loop of it swings through Sardis.
|Routes through Sardis|
|Çeşme ← Izmir ←||W E||→ Kula → Afyonkarahisar|