The ancient Synagogue of Sardis, which is the largest outside of Israel, has a very untypical location. It stands in the centre of the city and originally formed part of a large bathing complex. A Roman basilica style building was redesigned as a synagogue where 1,000 worshipers could congregate at one time, at the end of the 2nd century A.D. The synagogue has now been partly restored.
Next to the Synagogue lies the 3rd century Gymnasium and Bath-complex, which extended over 5.5 acres. Its impressive decoration points to its association with the Imperial cult, and thus the complex gives us an insight into the pressures brought to bear on believers in the city, even though it was built approximately a century after they received the letter. Construction on the foundations of the complex appears to have commenced in the 1st century.