Laodicea or Laodikeia, is located on the borders of Eskihisar, Goncali and Bozburun villages,6 kms north of Denizli. In the fertile plains of the Lycos River,Laodicea lays on a high plateau, surrounded on three sides with rivers Lycos to the northeast Kapros to the southeast and Asopos to the northwest. The Hellenistic city was founded by the Seleucid king Antiochus the Second in the name of his wife Laodike, about the middle of the third century BC. And finally in 130\129BC, the region became part of Rome.
Having suffered from earthquakes and rebuilt many times, the city finally was abandoned after a severe earthquake in the reign of emperor Focas 602\610 BC. Then its citizens settled at Denizli. The city was one of the seven churches of the book of Revolution and thus, she became one of the metropolitan cities in the Byzantine period.
The most important income of the city was trade, thanks to her location on the crossroads of trade routes.The foremost trade was that of textiles. The city was designed on the Hippodamic or Grilled plan where the streets cross at right angles or run parallel to each other. Covering an area of about five square km. Laodicea boasts with her remains encompassing the largest ancient stadium of Anatolia (measuring 280*70 m), two theaters, four bathhouse complexes, four agoras, five fountains, two monumental portals, council house, temples, churches and the monumental street. The city is surrounded with graves on four sides.
Just to the South of the modern entrance to the site, lie the remains of the Syrıa Gate. The Gate had three archways built with cut travertine blocks. It was built in the doric order in 84-85 BC during the reign of emperor Domitian and it is contemporaneous with the Frontinus Gate in Hieropolis.
On the North side of the Syria street are the remains of the east baths on the higher elevation. Dated to the Roman period second BC. The building has a central layout built with piers, arches and vaults. It comprises changing hall, cod hall, lukewarm hall and a hot hall. The flat area extending to the west of the structure may be an agora.
EAST BYZANTINE GATE
It is located on the Syrıa Street. In 395 BC , Emperors Theodosius and Arcadius decided to build fortifications around the city. Architectural blocks from Roman structures were reused in the construction of the Gates, walls and towers. The gate is flanked with square-shaped towers projecting out from the walls. There are two passageways of the gate; one is larger to allow horse carriages and the other is much narrower used by the pedestrians. The restoration work on the towers involved some reconstruction of the walls reaching height of 5-6 m.
EAST BYZANTINE FOUNTAIN
The rectangular fountain measures 21.50,9.85 on the exterior and 18.70,6.80 m. on the interior. It adjoins the North tower of the east Byzantine gate and the fortifications and extends in the north – south direction. It was built in the early fifth century CE. The structure supplied water to those living outside the city walls or those arriving from outside.
THE SYRIA STREET
The 900-meter-long main street stretching from the city center to the Syria Gate on the east is called the Syria Street. The excavations made clear the construction phases related with the earthquake of 494 CE and until the abandonment of the city. The sewage canal runs underneath the middle of the street which is flanked with colonnades rising on, on a single or two-step platform with shops behind. The section of the street extending from the East Byzantine Gate to the Caracalla Fountain on the west is flanked with House A, Temple A, Fountain A, Propylon and shops on the North side and with shops and Central Agora on the South side.
House A is located in the side alley leading North from the Syria Street. The building comprises an inner courtyard and interconnected rooms. Fresco remains observed on the walls indicate that the building was used as a house in the third and fourth centuries CE. However, storage jars, discharge hall and canal and brick flooring indicate alterations which transformed the building to a workshop in the fifth and sixth centuries. Three phases of use have been identified. The complex has sitting rooms with pools designed for drinking wine accessed behind the shops on the north portico, wells for cooling the wine and storerooms behind. Excavations brought to light many things related with trade such as balances, weights and coins.
STREET WATER DISTRIBUTION CENTER
Located at the corner of a side alley leading North from the Syrıa Street,this center was used when the city shrank in size following the earthquake in 494 CE. Built with reused architectural elements, the center measures 2.10 m – 2.40 m. and there is a baked clay pipe supplying the water, a small pool and distribution lines showing that the water was distributed from the pool to four directions via a triple strainer system.
The structure is located on the North end of the rectangular courtyard surrounded with porticoes on the north side of the Syria Street. The temple is a prostyle with four spirally fluted columns in the front. It was built with travertine blocks on a high podium and faced with marble. The temple precinct occupies the area of two blocks in the Hippodamic layout. Built in the Antonine period (second century CE), the temple was heavily renovated in the reign of Emperor Diocletian (284-305 CE). Excavations have shown that the building served as an archive in the fourth century CE.
Also known as the Fountain of Septimus Severus, Nymphaeum A is located on the North side of the Syria Street. This rectangular fountain extending in the east-west direction covers one block of the Hippodamic layout and measures 41.60 14.30 m. The rectangular pool was surrounded with the two-story construction on three sides; the lower story was of Composite order while the upper story was of Corinthian order. The architectural facade, the parapets with profiled crowns and bases rising on a two-stepped podium are of marble. The main pool was filled by three taps on the long side an done tap on each of the short sides placed in niches. Furthermore,a lion statue placed on the east and west ends of the fountain facing the street. This monumental fountain is a Grand structure with its polychrome wall facings and brown, grey marbles, located opposite the Central Agora. According to its inscription it was dedicated to Emperor Septimus Severus (198-211 CE).
Located to the South of the Central Agora , the Central Baths has a covered area of 89.60 57.60m. occupying four blocks in the Hippodamic system. The complex comprises caldarium(hot hall), tepidarium(lukewarm hall), frigidarium(cold hall) and apodyterium(changing hall) and on the North with a second apodyterium and frigidarium peculiar to Laodicea. On the west is the triple arched entranceway. The complex is dated to the Roman Imperial period (second century CE). Following its collapse with the earthquake of 494 CE, it served other functions until the abandonment of the city in the early seventh century CE.
The monumental portal Propylon 1 is located in the Syria Street opposite the west corner of the Central Agora. It forms a recess toward North from the street. Understood to have been built in the late Severan period, the Propylon 1 was damaged greatly in the earthquake in the reign of Diocletian and subsequently rebuilt. It fell completely in the earthquake of 494 CE and rearranged thereafter staying in use until the seventh century.
This monumental fountain is located at the junction of the Syria Street and the Stadium Street leading south.Thanks to its location on a corner, it has two facades and unusual layout. It was built in honor of, and dedicated to, Emperor Caracalla (211-217 CE) on the occasion of his visit to Laodikeia.
THE WESTERN THEATRE
The structure was built entirely in earth following the Hellenistic tradition. The stage building stands to a height of 6-7 m. The cavea is divided into nine kerkides with seven stairways. The lower part of the cavea is of marble and has 23 rows of seats while the upper part is of travertine and has 19 rows of seats. Its capacity is about 8000 people. Originally built in the Hellenistic period, the structure stayed in use until the seventh century and then it served as a quarry.
CORINTHIAN TEMPLE AND NORTH BASILICA
In the flat area, facing the Lycos plains, between the two theaters the North Basilica was built next to the temple at a later date. The North Basilica was built with travertine blocks in the three aisled basilician layout with an apse. Possibly built in the finish of the fifth century CE, it stayed in use until beginning of the seventh century.
THE EPHESUS GATE
This Roman Imperial period gate located on the west was built in the reign of Emperor Domitian and is the best preserved one of the four monuments built at this time. Typologically this gate resembles the Frontinus Gate in Hierapolis.
This secon theatre, named Northern Theatre is built in second century CE. Facing the Lycos plains below to the northeast, the building is built entirely into the hillside. Although many rows of seats have slipped away from their original positions and some were removed for quarrying and lime making purposes,a total of 19 rows in the lower cavea and 27 rows in the uper cavea can be identified today. Based on the diameters of the cavea, we can conjecture 9 kerkides in the lower and 16 kerkides in the upper cavea. The diazoma in the middle is 2.30 m. wide and the diameter of the cavea is 110 m. while the stage is arc shaped and the orchestra is wide. The names of associations and leading families are found incised on the rows of seats. The capacity is about 12,000 people. The theater stayed in use with various repairs until the seventh century and then served as a quarry.
A good example of baths with cascades layout is located about 50 m. east of the Aphrodisias Street. It extends in the east-west direction and measures 70 36 m. The frigidarium, tepidarium and caldarium can be clearly seen in this monument.
BOULEUTERION (COUNCIL HOUSE)
Connected with the South Agora, the Bouleuterion has a diameter of 35 m. The Greco- Roman cavea faces South and 7- 8 rows of marble seats can stil be seen. Dated to the reign of Emperor Hadrian ( 117- 138 BC ) the building has a capacity of 500-600 people.
The South Agora measures 135 – 90 m. and located between the Bouleuterion and the South Baths to both of which it is connected. Postaments and other architectural elements reflect the stylistic features of the second century BC. Thus, the South agora, the South baths complex and the Bouleuterion must have been designed as a single Project and built in honour of emperor Hadrian’s visit in 135 BC.
SOUTH BATHS – GYMNASIUM COMPLEX
The best- preserved ancient monument in Laodicea, this complex was built with cut travertine blocks of high quality workmanship. The complex measures133- 75 m. and has the layout of “cascaded twin baths“ peculiar to the region. Furthermore it stands out for its connections with the stadium on the South and the agora on the North. This complex also served those exercising or competing in the stadium. According to its inscription the complex is dedicated to Emperor Hadrian and his wife Sabina and built on the occasion of their visit to Laodicea in 135 BC in the proconsulhip of Gargilius Antiquus.
WATER DISTRIBUTION TERMINAL I
Located to the east of the stadium and the South Baths complex, the Water Distribution Terminal I ( castellum aquae ) lies at an altitude of 278m. above the sea level. Its preserved height is about 7 m. The later came to this terminal from the Baspinar spring spring in Denizli via the twin travertine pipeline on the west slopes of Eskisehir villiage on the South.
WATER DISTRIBUTION TERMINAL II
The second terminal is located about 430 m. North of the first one and at an altitude of 291 m. above the sea level. Thus, it is a bigger and more complicated structure that supplied the most of the city. The blockage to the northeast of the water distribution terminal II was built with creek Stones and lime mortar and dates to the Late Antiquity. Extant remains must belong to the roman and Late Antiquity period.
Getting rich through trade, the city built many monuments and paid much attentions to culture and sports. The stadium,one of these monuments, is located in the South of the city and extends in the northeast-southeast direction. It measures 280-70 m. Its capacity is estimated to be about 20- 25.000 people. Built entirely of marble and in the ground, the monument has the sphendones (round ends). According to inscription the stadium dedicated to Emperor Titus. Mostly the rows of seats in the North , in the southeast and in the western sphendone have survived in better condition. The monument has 34 kerkides divisions and a total of 25 rows of seats can be identified on the north sides.