Archaeological site of Laodikeia
Archaeological site of Laodikeia is part of the Tentative list of Turkiye in order to qualify for inclusion in the World Heritage List.
Laodikeia comprises the remains of a Roman, Hellenistic and early Byzantine city. The existing remains attest to its former greatness, notably the aqueduct and the stadium. It was also an important site in early Christianity: it had an early church which was mentioned in the Bible.
Map of Archaeological site of LaodikeiaLoad map
The coordinates shown for all tentative sites were produced as a community effort. They are not official and may change on inscription.
I visited this tWHS in Spring 2021 as a side trip on my way back from Aphrodisias WHS. It lies very close to Akhan Caravanserai and the Pamukkale-Hierapolis mixed WHS.
The archaeological site of Laodikeia is practically the remains of a whole ancient city built on the river Lycus (Çürüksu). It was located in the Hellenistic regions of Caria and Lydia, which later became the Roman Province of Phrygia Pacatiana. Apart from the usual colonnaded street, the western theatre, agoras, etc., the highlight for me were the restored fragments (actually a whole jigsaw puzzle of them!) of painted hallways at the far end of the colonnaded street with pigments and motifs very similar to those of the Villa Oplontis in Campania, Italy. Moreover, there are also the remains of one of the seven churches (early Christianity) of Asia mentioned in the Book of Revelation.
Visiting in the late afternoon (ideal to avoid the scorching heat on a sunny day even in Spring!), I had the ancient city to myself and several little owlets that were attentively following me from one column to the next. There seems to be a lot left to be excavated before this site aims for inscription but I wouldn't be surprised if it were to make it on the WH list just like other classical WHS in Turkey. When I visited it was possible to buy a combined ticket to visit Laodikeia and Hierapolis-Pamukkale.
Laodikea was an ancient city during the Hellenistic period that was later assimilated into the Roman republic. As it sits on earthquake-prone terrain, it had been rebuilt several times until people have had enough and settled somewhere else. Good thing it was never demolished or completely perished during subsequent earthquakes--otherwise, we won't be able to see these beautiful ruins! It was not really part of my itinerary but having a newly found love for ancient Greek/Roman ruins, I decided to visit Laodikea as my third ancient Hellenistic city within the area of Denizli, after Hierapolis and Aphrodisias. This visit was 3 years ago, in August 2017.
I started the half-day trip by going to Denizli bus station, where I planned to take a public bus that was supposed to go past the site, as mentioned by some sources. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find such bus hence I decided to take a taxi. When I arrived at the site, the taxi driver looked at me as if he was questioning my sanity for going to a rarely visited site alone and in the middle of a hot sunny day.
It was indeed very hot. I went to the only store at the entrance of the site (at the Syrian Gate) and most of what they were selling were souvenirs, cold drinks and ice cream. From what I can remember, the man at the ticket booth was so surprised that a traveler showed up at this time of the day. On the other hand, I thought that this would be a good time to visit as I could have the entire site to myself.
I wasn’t wrong. It was just me roaming around the site. I started walking through a street that used to be colonnaded. At the end of this street was a series of Corinthian columns of what could have been part of temple(s) or public building(s) in the agora. On the right was a large roofed portion of the ruins, indicative that this might be in the process of excavation or highly vulnerable to elements. Past this structure, I walked around the remains of several ancient buildings, with columns looking more like tree stumps. I took several pictures of the intricate designs on some of the columns and walls. Two amphitheaters (North and West theaters) can be found on the northern end of the site, although at the time of visit, both seemed to be in bad state of preservation.
The stadium and what seemed to be the remains of a bath is situated at the south end of the site. The stadium is on the edge of this elevated part of the plains and the “seats” of this stadium follows the contours of the slope.This ancient stadium is said to be the biggest in Anatolia. I would say that it was a nice spot to view the bright white travertine terraces of Pamukkale, which I think is probably more than 10 kilometers away. After a couple of hours, I ended my tour with a nice tub of ice cream.
[UPDATE: Feb 2023] -> I believe that the site offers a strong case to be inscribed as a WHS. It was a large and important commercial and cultural center and played a role in Christian (and biblical) history. While at the time of visit I did not think it was at par with the neighboring Aphrodisias and Hierapolis in terms of preservation, the changes made in the past few years showed how much restoration and excavation had been done. With that, I am excited to see its inscription in the future.
2013 Added to Tentative List
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