Philadelphia (2)


still exists as a Turkish town, under the name of Allah-shehr, "city of God," i.e., Hightown. The region around is highly volcanic, and, geologically speaking, belongs to the district of Phrygia Catacecaumene, on the western edge of which it lies. The situation of Philadelphia is highly picturesque, especially when viewed from the north-east, for it is principally built on four or five hills, extremely regular in figure, and having the appearance of truncated pyramids. At the back of these, which are all of nearly the same height, rise the lofty ridges of Tmolus; and though the country around is barren and desolate, the city itself is wanting neither in wood nor verdure. The climate of Philadelphia is pleasant and healthy. It is elevated 952 feet above the level of the sea, and is open to the salutary breezes from the Catacecaumene — a wild desert tract of highly volcanic country extending as far to the east as Peltae. This district is even vet famous for the growth of the vine, which delights in a light sandy soil; and, though incapable of extensive cultivation, has a few fertile oases. Close to Philadelphia the soil is rich, and fruits as well as corn are abundant. The Cogamos abounds in fresh-water turtle, which are considered delicacies, and highly prized accordingly. The revenues of the city depend on its corn, cotton, and tobacco. The cotton grows in small pods about the size of a medlar, and not unlike it in form. The town itself, although spacious, is miserably built and kept, the dwellings being remarkably mean, and the streets exceedingly filthy. Across the summits of the hill behind the town and the small valleys between them runs the town-wall, strengthened by circular and square towers, and forming also an extensive and long quadrangle in the plain below. The ancient walls are partly standing and partly in ruins; but it is easy to trace the circuit which they once enclosed, and within which are to be found innumerable fragments of pillars and other remains of antiquity. The missionaries Fisk and Parsons, in 1822, were informed by the Greek bishop that the town contained 3000 houses, of which he assigned 250 to the Greeks, and the rest to the Turks. On the same authority it is stated that there are five churches in the town, besides twenty others which were too old or too small for use. Six minarets, indicating as many mosques, are seen in the town; and one of these mosques is believed by the native Christians to have been the church in which assembled the primitive Christians addressed in the Apocalypse. There are few ruins; but in one part there are still found four strong marble pillars, which supported the dome of a church. The dome itself has fallen down, but its remains may be observed, and it is seen that the arch was of brick. On the sides of the pillars are inscriptions, and some architectural ornaments in the form of the figures of saints. One solitary pillar of high antiquity has often been noticed as reminding beholders of the remarkable words in the Apocalyptic message to the Philadelphia Church: "Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God; and he shall go no more out" (Re 3:12). It is believed that the Christian inhabitants of Philadelphia are on the increase. The city is the seat of a Greek bishop, and the last incumbent of the see did much to spread among his clergy a desire for theological learning; but education is in a very low state, and Mr. Arundell states that the children had been allowed to tear up some ancient copies of the Gospels. See Smith, Sept. Ecclesiarum Asiae, page 138; Arundell, Seven Churches; Richter, Wahlfahrten, page 513; Schubert, Morgenland, 1:353-357; Missionary Herald, 1821, page 253; 1839, pages 210-212; Chandler, Travels, page 310.

It has been supposed by some that Philadelphia occupied the site of another town named Callatebus, of which Herodotus speaks, in his account of Xerxes's march; but the position and fertility of that spot do not correspond. At the same time the Persian king, in his two days' march from Cydrara to Sardis, must have passed very near the site of the future Philadelphia (Strabo, 12, c. 8; Herod. 7:31). SEE ASIA MINOR.

Bible concordance for PHILADELPHIA.

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

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