The ancient Sardes is located about 100km east of Izmir. The former capital of Lydians reached its peak during the reign of King Croesus (560-546BC) and was one of ancient world’s richest cities back then. Sardes owed its wealth to gold ores found in the Pactolus River, collected on sheepskins spread out in the shallows. According to legend, the river’s riches came from King Midas, who once bathed in it to get rid of himself of his ‘golden touch’. Croesus’ expansionist ambitions destroyed the Lydian empire, the was the Persian Emperor Cyrus. The city continued to flourish; what we see today mostly dates from Roman and Byzantine periods.
Just next to modern town of Sartmustafa lies the huge Roman public baths complex, a street lines with stores and the largest known ancient Synagogue building remains. At the south of the modern Sart village, in a beautiful setting, stand the marble huge stumps and several complete versions of the Ionic columns of the colossal Artemis Temple, one of the seven biggest temple sites in ancient Anatolia.