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Laodicea

Laodicea is an ancient city located in the Lycus River Valley of Anatolia, near Hierapolis and Colossae, in Denizli province. It was founded in the 3rd century BC by Seleucid King Antiochus II in honor of his wife, Laodice. The city was in Phrygia, bordering with Caria, and hold an important location at the valley which was a natural caravan trade route from the Aegean sea to inland or vice versa, therefore it prospered throughout the centuries.

In 188 BC it became a part of the Kingdom of Pergamon and later on fell into the Roman rule in 133 BC. In 60 BC it was leveled by a powerful earthquake during the reign of Nero but then it was rebuilt. Especially at the beginning of 2nd century AD and then 3rd century AD, during the reigns of Roman emperors Hadrian and Caracalla, the city lived its hey-days again. It became an important center of woolen and cotton products as well as rich commerce and arts.

During the Byzantine period Laodicea became an important center of Christianity and one of the Seven Churches of Revelation, turning the city into a archbishopric. Apparently Laodicea received the gospel not from Saint Paul but from his helper Epaphras during the time Paul was in Ephesus. In the 4th century Apollinaris of Laodicea proposed the theory later called as "Apollinarianism", which was considered heretical by the Catholic Church.

By the end of 5th century AD another powerful earthquake destroyed the city, after which the city lost its importance and could never get back to its former good days. The city has never been rebuilt after this natural disaster, and its inhabitants moved to nearby cities such as Denizli.

Initial excavations at Laodicea were carried out in the beginning of 1960's during which the nymphaeum (monumental fountain) and parts of the aqueducts were found. After this no excavations were made for several years until recently. Today, when you get to the archaeological site you can notice a large stadium (355 meters x 65 meters) dedicated to Vespasian and built in 79 AD, a number of sarcophagi in the necropolis at the other side of the river bed, two large amphitheaters, an odeon, a gymnasium, a triple-arched gateway dedicated to Domitian, an early 3rd century AD nymphaeum, a cistern and the aqueduct.

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