Magnesia ad Sipylus, once the capital of the Byzantine Empire ond a major city along the royal road to Izmir, is located some thirty miles northeast of Izmir at the foot of Mount Manisa Dagi in the present Turkish provincial capital of Manisa. The steep Manisa Dagi, rising to a height of more than four thousand feet above the historical Hyrcania Plain, is the legendary Mt. Sipylus of old. A teleferik or cable car will take you near the summit in fifteen minutes.
History of Magnesia
Magnesia and the surrounding territory, once the center of the Hittite Old Kingdom, was ruled by the Lydians from the twelfth century B.C. The centuries -long running Heraclid Dynasty of the Lydian Kings was ended with the ascension of tyrant Gyges in 670 B.C., who somewhat clamped an Iron hand over the activities of the
Magnesians. In 546 B.C.. the great age of Lydian prosperity came to^a close with the arrival of Cyrus and his Persian hordes. The Kingdom of Lydia was finished, and the Persian influence was felt until 334 B.C.. when Alexander the Great ended it at the Battle of Granicus. Magnesia and the old kingdom was next ruled by the Seleucids whom the city supported in the ensuing wars against Pergomum and the Roman Empire. This struggle came to o close in the year 190 B.C., when the legions of Roman commander Lucius Cornelius Scipio fought and won the famous battle at Magnesia ad Sipylus, defeating more than eighty thousand soldiers and claiming complete mastery over the Seleucid king, Antlochus 111. Magnesia was then handed over to Pergamum, Rome’s staunch oily, ending the period of Hellenism In Asia,
The city was destroyed, as were most of the neighboring centers, in the great earthquake of 17 A.D. It was rebuilt with the aid of Emperor Tiberius. In 1222, Magnesia became the temporary seat of the Byzantine Empire when the Emperor of Byzantium found refuge from the Crusaders in the city. In the Turkish period. Magnesia was occupied and served as the center of the Sa-ruhan Emirate. The Turkish Sultan Ylldirim Beyazit I conquered the city in 1330, and added it to-the rapidly growing Ottoman Empire. Several interesting structures and mosques dating from early Ottoman times are to be seen today in Maniso.
Ruins Of Magnesia
Among the sites of interest ot Magnesia are the Byzantine walls and foundations of the ancient acropolis which date to the thirteenth century A.D. The citadel is said to have been built by Magnetes, and legend holds that Alexander the Great once buried his treasure somewhere in the city. The acropolis, with its standing fortifications, is found on the Sandik Hilt,
Some mosques in Manisa itself worthy of note are the fourteenth century Ulu Caml and the Murodlye Cami, the latter built by the renowned Ottoman architect, Sinan In the 16th century. The Ulu Mosque was built over Byzantine foundations In 1377 by Ishok Celebi, a descendant of the first Turkish emir in the city, Saruhan. Many of the construction materials were obviously borrowed from former structures. The Corinthian capitals on some of the columns give evidence to this. The tiirbe or tomb of Ishak Celebi is nearby. The Mosque of Sultan Murat III, now housing Manisa’s Archaeological Museum, was built in 1583, And the Sultan Mosque across from the Muradiye was built in 1522 under the orders of Hafize Sultan, the mother of Suleyman the Magnificent. This is where the annual Meslr
Bayrami or Candy Festival iş centered on the fast Sunday in April. The area of the Suitan Mosque comes alive with the colors of historical pagentry and Turkish folk dancers, and everyone is out to capture a piece of the famed Mesir candy first concocted from fortyone different spices in the sixteenth century by Merkez Efendi os a cure for the mentally ill.
Above the city on Mt. Sipylus is the Taş Suret, which has been thought to be the Niobe described by Pausanias. Niobe’s fourteen children were slain by the goddess Leto, and Niobe herself was turneo to stone on the mountain and wept constantly for the fate of her children. The real Niobe has been found at another place on the mountain, however, not far from the town. The Taş Suret, which is Hittite, is presumed to be a statue of Cybele, the fertility goddess. Mt. Sipylus also claims to have the Tomb of Tantalus on its slopes and the Throne of Pelops. There is a rock-cut tomb of unusual design which might possibly be the tomb described by Pausanias, A possible site for the throne has been found on a rock slope on which cisterns hove been cut. At the top of the slope Is something resembling a targe throne.