Akhisar (pronounced: ah-kee-sahr, or more formally, ahk-hee-sahr) is a county district and its town center in Manisa Province in the Aegean region of Western Turkey. Akhisar is also the ancient city of Thyatira or Thyateira.
With archaeological findings proving settlements going back to 3000 BC, Akhisar has been a busy trade center with its strategic location at the intersection of important roads during ancient and medieval ages. It was one of the cities where money was first used. Akhisar also hosted one of the Seven Churches of Revelation (Thyateira, Thyatira). The name of the city is mentioned in the Bible. Akhisar maintained its importance as a regional trade center during 600 years of Ottoman Empire.
Today's Akhisar is still the trade and business center in its region. Akhisar's name is internationally recalled with tobacco. The fertile Akhisar Plain produces about 10% of total Turkish tobacco production. Akhisar's high-quality olives and olive oil are also globally known.
In 214 AD, the Roman Emperor Caracalla promoted the town to the status of a regional and administrative center with powers of adjudication (conventus). The city flourished considerably under the Romans and became a large metropolis with 3 gymnasiums. As of the 2nd century AD, Christianity spread in western Anatolia by the actions of apostles like John the Evangelist and Paul. Thyatira is mentioned twice in the New Testament. The first mention is as one of the Seven Churches in Asia Minor and reference is made to a Thyateiran woman named "Jezebel" who is said to have fought against Christians (Revelation 2:18-29). The second mention refers to another Thyatiran woman named "Lydia" is said to have helped Paul (Acts 16:14).
In the 1100s, a large-scale inflow of Turkish tribes started. Akhisar swayed back and forth between Byzantine and Turkish rulers during for two centuries. In the 1300s, Turks under the Anatolian Beylik of Saruhan regained all Western Anatolian lands and Akhisar went under Turkish rule in 1307. Towards the end of the same century, Akhisar became part of the extending Ottoman Empire. Under Ottoman administration, Akhisar was at first a subdistrict (kaza) in the sanjak (district) of Saruhan (corresponding to present-day Manisa Province) within the larger vilayet (province) of Kütahya. The sanjak of Saruhan was later incorporated into the vilayet of Aydın until the end of the Ottoman Empire in 1922.
In ancient times, Thyateira was an important center of activity. It was on the ancient roads from Istanbul to Pergamum, Sardis and Ephesus. Thyateira was at the center of many small towns and villages which were administratively and politically bound to it. Cloth and pottery trade was the main activity in town. Production of wool, linen, brass goods and tanning were other commercial activities. The city remained as a center of trade activity for centuries. Akhisar's cloth and cords were reputable in Istanbul markets. Among the other agricultural merchandise were olives, olive oil, water melons, grapes and raisins.
This high level of economical activity made Akhisar the most important subdistrict within the sanjak of Saruhan. The first Ottoman records about Akhisar date back to the 1500s. These records indicate that Akhisar was a district center which paid 40% more income tax than the seat of the Saruhan Sanjak, present-day Manisa. At the end of the 19th century, urban population had reached 30,000. In the Republican era, Akhisar pursued its development. Many modern avenues, streets were built. In recent years, a new stadium, grass soccer field, many parks and recreational areas were also built throughout the city. Many banks, shops and tourist hotels are now lined up along the busy main street (Tahir Un Avenue) which connects the train station to the city center.
An industrial zone specializing in automotive repair and small parts production and a number of factories such as olive oil production plants, brick factories, tobacco (cigarette) factory were constructed. The Greater Akhisar Industrial Zone is currently under development. Since the city is located on the State Highway 565 between İzmir and Istanbul, Turkey's two most important ports, Akhisar Industrial Zone offers attractive investment opportunities for both domestic and foreign investors.
Ancient Akhisar is almost entirely covered by the buildings and streets of modern town. However, buildings and ruins from ancient and Middle Ages can still be seen all over the town. It is very likely to see ancient stones or columnheads in street corners in the older city.
Tomb of State Hospital
This is a man-made tomb in the city center with Hellenistic ruins. However, some houseware findings on this hill reveal the existence of some primitive settlements dating back to 3,000 BC. Archeologists assume that the hill once hosted the acropol of ancient Thyateira. The Byzantine and Turkish names of the city was derived from the white painted towers on this castle. (Turkish name Akhisar, in Turkish: Ak = white + hisar = castle or, Byzantine name Asprokastro, in Greek Aspro=white + kastro=castle). This small hill has been hosting the State Hospital since World War II. Today, a Hellenistic tablet and sarcophagus can be seen in the Hospital garden. A Hellenistic tablet and sarcophagus can be seen in the hospital garden.
Some ruins of an ancient building complex and colonnaded road can be seen in "Tepemezari" area in downtown. The portico is estimated to have a length of 100 m. (330 ft). It possibly connects the entrance of the large ancient building complex to the city acropolis. Tepemezarlığı was subjected to an in depth archaeological excavation between 1969–1971. These excavations revealed the walls of a rectangular Roman building along North-South direction with dimensions of about 40 m. by 10 m. (140 ft. by 30 ft.). The compound has been arranged into an archaeological park near downtown.
It is generally admitted that money was invented by Lydians in the 7th century BC in western Anatolia. Thyateira, being the most important center in the North ancient Lydia, was definitely one of the first towns where money was used. Towards 200 BC, important trade centers started printing their own coins.
Oldest Thyateira coin is made of bronze and belongs to times when the rule of Pergamon was prevalent. Thyateira coins usually display the figures of Apollo and Artemis on one side and a double sided axe on the other. During 50s AD, Thyateira printed coins bearing figures of Roman emperors, local governors and city administrators. Roman coins also revealed some sports activities and festivals in Thyateira.
Plateia Petra (Sahin Kaya =Falcon Rock)
Plateia Petra is a big high rock in the Eastern county territory. It hosts some ancient and middle age ruins. This big mass of rock has a very strategic location controlling Akhisar and Pergamum plains, a large part of Lydian territories. The location and castle indicate that the settlement was a defensive sentinel station. Access to Plateia Petra is possible by a tough walk of 3,050 steps ancient stairway carved to the rock.
The man-made tombs along modern Akhisar - Gölmarmara road are ancient Lydian graves. These tombs usually have one single grave room.
Similar tombs can also be seen near modern villages of Beyoba, Mecidiye, Süleymanlı and Eroğlu. There are also a number of Lydian and Phrygian graves carved in rock.
Ulucami (The Great Mosque)
This ancient building was transformed to a mosque in 1400s. The year of construction is unknown but it is evident that the building was formerly a Roman temple and a Byzantine church. There is even a possibility for the building to be one of the famous Seven Churches of Christianity.
Aynali Mosque was almost reconstructed in 1958 due to excessive wear. Some ancient columns and building blocks found in the garden suggests that there was a large building of ancient Thyateira in the area. Mosque garden also hosts the finest samples of the Turkish art of stone carving.
Zeynelzade Library and Hashoca Mosque
The library was constructed in 1798 by Zeynelzade's, a reputable family of Akhisar. The building is located in Hashoca Quarter, close to Hashoca Mosque. According to records of 1805, there were 923 volumes of manuscripts. A modern library with the same name was constructed in 20th century in another part of the city, serving students and researchers.
Next to the Reşat Bey Cemetery, there is a Jewish Graveyard of about 673 square meters (7200 ft²). Gravestones with carvings in Hebrew can be seen.
Right behind the modern Turkish Telecom Directorate Building there is an historical synagogue. Unfortunately, not much remained except its old gate.
Kayalıoğlu Jewish School
The School of Agriculture built by the Jewish family of Kayalıoglu is still in good shape. The building was built in the beginning of 20th century. The 3 story building has been recently abandoned. There are orchards and various trees surrounding the building, once used in practical studies. The basement of the building served as a winery. The building and yard occupies an area of about . Other small buildings accompany the old school building.