Sardis’ main site comprises ruins from the 6th- and 7th-century-BC Lydian empire—once ruled by King Croesus, famous for his wealth—alongside Roman-era remains including a gymnasium, basilica, and synagogue. A nearby, second site centers on the ruined Greek Temple of Artemis, built in the 3rd century BC.
Most visitors opt to explore Sardis’ sites on a private day trip from Izmir or Kusadasi, so avoiding the fuss of a rental car or public buses while benefiting from a guide who can detail the city’s history. Sardis also features on multi-day Seven Churches of Asia Minor Turkey tours, which visit the seven churches mentioned in the Bible’s Book of Revelation.
Things to know before you go
- Sardis will appeal to history and archaeology enthusiasts.
- Most of the ruins are wheelchair- and stroller-accessible.
- Bring sunscreen, a sunhat, and bottled water—the sites get very hot.
- The main site has a gift shop selling souvenirs and drinks.
- Entrance tickets give access to Sardis’ main site and Temple of Artemis site.
How to get there
Set near the village of Sart (Sartmustafa) around 56 miles (90 kilometers) from Izmir, the easiest way to visit Sardis from Izmir or Kusadasi is on a tour. Alternatively, minibusses from Izmir run via Sart to nearby Salihli. From Kusadasi, your best option, aside from a tour, is a rental car. The ruins sit beside the Izmir-Ankara E96 highway and are signposted.
When to get there
Sardis is open daily, with reduced hours between October and mid-April. Both sites are off Turkey’s main tourist trail and usually quiet, but arrive in the early morning to avoid any occasional visits by tour groups.
What to See at Sardis
Sardis was hugely powerful and wealthy, not least for its invention of coinage—pure gold and silver coins were first minted here during the 6th-century BC reign of King Croesus. By their sheer scale, the ruins provide a fascinating insight into the city’s prosperity. Be sure to view the crumpled Temple of Artemis—situated on its own, separate site—and the other showpieces, which encompass a magnificent, reconstructed 2-story Roman gymnasium, a mosaic-bedecked synagogue, Byzantine shops, and a set of well-preserved Byzantine latrines.
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