Church of Laodikeia

     (Pilgrimage) Church of Laodikeia was identified in 2010 and entirely excavated the same year. It is located in the northeast quadrant of the city, to the northeast of Temple A, covering an entire insula bounded with the alley running north along the east side of the Temple A on the west and the alley running north from the west side of House A on the east. In the southwest and northeast is a small fountain each.
     The plan layout of the church is an innovation in Christian history. There are eleven apse-like niches in the layout; one is the apse on the east, two are at the narrow ends of the narthex, and eight are located along the long south and north walls of the naos. The naos encircles a total of ten piers, two of which adjoin the ends of the synthronon, diaconicon and prothesis chambers, an ambo, and the bema with an altar and synthronon. Gigantic piers connect with each other and the south and north walls between the apse-like niches in order to support the roof. Two doorways lead into the church from the alley on the west. From the north-south narthex three doorways lead into the naos, which is arranged into a three-aisled basilica. North and south side aisles are paved with vegetal and geometric decoration in mosaic. Mosaics include the names of two clerics within cross motifs: Proto-deacon Polycarp and deacon Alexander. The nave and pastophoria were paved with opus sectile. The bottom sides of the arches connecting the piers were also paved with mosaic. The walls of the church were faced with panels in marble or frescoes.

     The baptistery paved with opus sectile is one of the most important parts of the church for it houses one of the oldest and best-preserved cruciform baptismal font faced with marble. The baptistery is accessed via a corridor extending along the north side of the naos. The church was heavily damaged in the earthquake of 494 and subsequently renovated; however, it collapsed entirely in the earthquake during the reign of Focas (r. 602-10).

    Laodikeia has a special place for Christendom because the city became a centre of pilgrimage as of the fourth century. Therefore, uncovering such a church in an ancient city mentioned in the New Testament and to whose Church a letter was sent is of utmost importance. This church was built during the reign of Constantine the Great when Christianity assumed freedom in AD 313. The monument has been taken under a protective roof and a steel and glass catwalk has been built for visitors.



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