This page gives information about the Island of Patmos and each of the seven cities with churches addressed by Jesus in the Book of Revelation, as well as the routes and the approximate distance between each place. For each location there are up to four links. The first is a link to the page on Wikipedia. The second and third are links to Google Maps. The second is a link to the road map, showing the terrain and nearby places. The third is a link to a closer satellite view of the actual site. The fourth is a link to the set of thumbnail photographs on the Holy Land Photos site, which contains hundreds of photographs of New Testament sites. For some locations there is also a link to a local website.
The distances and time to walk is taken from Google directions. The number of days is calculated assuming walking for eight hours each day. Distances and time of sea voyages is not included.
Patmos is a small rocky island in the Aegean Sea, forming the northernmost of the Dodecanese islands, now belonging to Greece, but closer to the Turkish mainland. It measures about ten by fifteen kilometres, and lies about sixty kilometres west of Ephesus.
The traditional site of where John received the visions from Jesus is the Cave of the Apocalypse halfway up the mountain above the port town of Skala. It now has a church built on the site. There are also several monasteries dedicated to John on the island.
Tradition from the early church claims the John was exiled to Patmos by Emperor Domitian (81-96) and released by Nerva (96-98). It is often claimed that Patmos was used by the Romans as a penal colony where they sent 'trouble-makers' to hard manual labour in the stone quarries. However, there is little or no direct historical evidence for this. The Roman historian Tacitus records that small islands were used by the Romans to banish political prisoners. In Latin, this was known as 'Relegatio ad insulam' (relegation to an island). Tacitus records the banishment of several officials who had fallen out of favour by Tiberius and by Nero.
1. Ephesus (2:1-7)
The famous tourist destination of the ruins of Ephesus contains a large archaeological site, containing the theatre where the riot took place during Paul's visit, the agora, the Celsus Library, the temple to Domitian, and many other buildings.
During the first century, the harbour was close to the centre of the city. However silting of the river has caused the sea to retreat, so it is now about 10 km away. All that remains of the harbour is an area of marshland.
The remains of the temple to Artemis is close by, near the town of Selcuk. A single pillar, restored by archaeologists, is the only object still standing. Also in Selcuk is a museum containing artifacts discovered in Ephesus, and the remains of the Basilica dedicated to the Apostle John, where he was buried. It is known from church history that the Apostle John became the leader of the church in Ephesus in the latter part of the first century.
Also nearby is the house of Mary, where it is claimed the mother of Jesus lived towards the end of her life.
From Ephesus to Smyrna, the distance is 62 km, which would take 13 hours (2 days) to walk.
2. Smyrna (2:8-11)
Smyrna is now the modern Turkish city of Izmir. It is located in a deep sheltered bay of the Aegean Sea, so became an important port. It lay at the western end of an important ancient trading route from the east.
Smyrna was a very close ally of Rome, so became an important centre of emperor worship from as early as 195 BC. In AD 155, Polycarp, the leader of the church in Smyrna was burned as a martyr in the stadium at Smyrna at the age of 86.
Much of the remains of the ancient city has been built over, so is not visible. The agora (market place) has been excavated and can be seen in the centre of the city. There is a large collection of artifacts from Smyrna and the surrounding area in the Archaeological Museum.
From Smyrna to Pergamum, the distance is about 115 km, which would take 24 hours (3 days) walking.
3. Pergamum (2:12-17)
Pergamum is now the modern city of Bergama. It is located about 25 km inland in western Turkey. It was established as a major city in the third century BC as the capital of the Attalid Empire. In 133 BC, Attalus III gave his kingdom to the Romans, after which Pergamum became the capital of the Roman province of Asia.
It was a huge city with an acropolis high above the lower city. A temple dedicated to Emperor Augustus was built in 29 BC, and another dedicated to Emperor Trajan in the early second century. In the Book of Revelation it is described as the site of the 'throne of Satan', which may refer to the city being the capital of the Roman province, or to the temple to Zeus which looked rather like a throne, or the the Asclepion, symbolised by a snake.
There are extensive archaeological remains on the acropolis, including a theatre, the Roman forum and the foundations of the temple to Zeus. Much of the temple to Zeus has been reconstructed in the Pergamum Museum in Berlin.
From Pergamum to Thyatira the distance is about 76 km, which would take 16 hours (2 days) to walk.
4. Thyatira (2:18-29)
Thyatira is now the modern town of Akhisar, lying about 70 km inland. It was a smaller city, under the control of Pergamum for some time, while at other times it protected the approaches to Sardis.
There are some archaeological remains in a square in the centre of Akhisar, including a recently reconstructed stoa. Evidence from coins show that guilds of bakers, bronze smiths, wool workers, potters, linen weavers and tanners were active in the city. These guilds would often hold banquets that included the eating of food offered to idols and participation in immoral sexual acts.
Lydia, who was converted by Paul in Philippi, was a dealer in purple cloth from Thyatira (Acts 16:11–15). The purple used to dye the cloth was from the local 'madder' plant.
From Thyatira to Sardis, the distance is about 58 km, which would take 12 hours (1.5 days) to walk.
5. Sardis (3:1-7)
Sardis is the modern town of Sart, and is located about 85 km inland, east of Smyrna (Izmir) in the valley of the River Hermus. It was the capital of the Lydian kingdom, ruled by King Croesus (c 560-546 BC), who was renowned for his great wealth. It became a very wealthy city, from trade and particularly from the extraction of gold from the River Pactolus.
The city consists of two parts. an upper city and a lower city in the plain far below. The acropolis or citadel of the upper city was built on a spur of Mount Tmolus about 1500 feet (500m) above the plain. The acropolis was difficult to reach and was considered unassailable by an enemy. Today, much of that hill has been eroded away, but remains of the city can still be seen on the summit. The city was over-confident and tended towards slackness. Twice in their history, enemies had come, and entered the city by climbing the cliffs, at the top of which they found no guards on duty.
In the lower city, there are remains of a temple to Artemis, a synagogue and a gymnasium.
From Sardis to Philadelphia the distance is about 46 km, which would take about 10 hours (1 day) to walk.
6. Philadelphia (3:8-13)
Philadelphia is the modern town of Alasehir located about 130 km east of Smyrna (Izmir), on an important road junction. It was founded in the third century BC by Attalus II, king of Pergamum, who showed loyalty and love for his brother Eumenes II, so the city was named 'Philadelphia', meaning 'brotherly love'. The city was destroyed by a devastating earthquake in AD 17.
Very little excavation has been done, but the acropolis above the modern city contains the remains of a theatre. Remains of the walls of the ancient city have also been found.
From Philadelphia to Laodicea, the distance is about 90 km, which would take 19 hours (2.5 days) to walk.
Laodicea was one of the three cities of the Lycus valley, Hieropolis, Colossae and Laodicea, which lie close to each other. Laodicea had been founded by the Seleucid kings during the third century BC. By the first century AD, it had become was a large, wealthy and important commercial centre, replacing Hieropolis and Colossae as the most important of the three cities. It was located at a key road junction on the Via Sebaste, with roads joining from all directions.
The ruins of Laodicea are located near the modern town of Denizli. The site has been well-excavated, showing remains of theatres, temples, a gymnasium and churches. Pipes which brought water from Hieropolis have been found showing severe blocking by mineral deposits. The hot water from Hieropolis was lukewarm and the high mineral content would not be pleasant to drink.
The church in Laodicea was probably established by Epahras. Paul urged the Colossians to read the letter to Laodicea (Col 4:16). This is an otherwise unknown letter, which could be a reference to the letter to the Ephesians.
The total distance from Ephesus to Laodicea, travelling through all seven cities is about 450 km (280 miles), which would take 94 hours (12 days) to walk. The return journey to Ephesus from Laodicea is about 120 km (75 miles), which would take 35 hours (4.5 days) to walk, making the total distance 570 km (360 miles), taking 129 hours (16 days) to walk.