Cultural Postcards + Turkey

Near East: Church in ancient Laodecia to open to tourism
One of the “Seven Churches of Asia” mentioned in the Bible, the Laodicean Church in the ancient city of Laodicea will be opened to tourism at the end of this year.

Church in ancient Laodecia to open to tourism
The early church at Laodicea [Credit: Dr. Celal Şimşek/
Laodikeia excavation]

The head of the excavations at the ancient site in the western Turkish province of Denizli, Professor Celal Şimşek, said this year’s excavations continued in the northern part of the holy agora, a special area of the temples.

Şimşek said works had been conducted in a structure called the “C structure.” “We have completely opened the peristillium (courtyard) of the structure. There is both a settlement and a graveyard from the early Bronze Age in the western side. This area dates back 5,000 years and we excavated there. This year we also restore the Septimius Severus fountain.”

He added that the Laodicean Church was also one of the most important restoration areas in Anatolia as it was one of the Seven Churches of Asia mentioned in the Bible. He said they had unearthed the church and were carrying out detailed and unique restoration work.

“This project is set to be finished by the end of the year. The world is really waiting for this church to be opened, because it is one of the seven oldest churches in Anatolia. The church is a very special structure with wall coverings, wall paintings and geometrical mosaics. When works are done, it will be one of the first in Turkey in terms of its restoration and roof,” Şimşek said, adding that they had started covering the 2,000 square meter roof of the church with a project approved by the Aydın Regional Board of Protection.

The excavations head said he expected 80 percent of visitors coming to Laodicea to be pilgrims. “The opening of this church to the world tourism will bring more visitors to the region. Especially 2 million people visiting Pamukkale will also come here to see the church,” he added, touching on the importance of faith tourism to such ancient sites in Turkey.

As part of the project, a church book and brochures about the ancient city in seven languages are set to be completed within two months.

“The opening of this church is very important because it is nearly a 1,700 year-old unique structure. The city completely collapsed in an earthquake in the 7th century A.D. and was abandoned. The church has survived so far because there were no settlements around it,” Şimşek also added.

Source: Hurriyet Daily News [October 16, 2014]

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