Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love, derives its name from the Attalid dynasty that ruled over the Kingdom of Pergamos. It is a tribute to the abiding bonds of brotherhood between Attalus II and his brother Eumenes. The area in which Philadelphia was located, in the valley of the Cogamis River, fell into the hands of the Pergamian King Eumenes as a result of a treaty in 189 BC, and from that time forward the area was in the heartland of the Kingdom of Pergamos.
Unlike Thyatira which was a garrison city guarding the frontiers of the Kingdom to the east, Philadelphia was founded to consolidate, regulate and educate the central part of the Kingdom. Philadelphia was founded as a center for culture, a kind of missionary city meant to spread the philosophical ethos of Greek civilization and spread the Grecian language throughout the region.
It was in many ways the missionary heart of Hellenism and in that sense was immensely successful. Philadelphia was largely responsible for the diffusion of the Greek language throughout Asia Minor by peaceful means. In fact, it was so successful at doing this that by 19 AD the Lydian language ceased to exist and Greek became the first language of the country.
What little is known of the religious persuasions of Philadelphia are derived mainly from coin hoards found during excavations and give a fairly sketchy picture of what Philadelphians believed. Mostly their religious views were Greek in origin. Coins minted in Philadelphia indicate a close alliance between Philadelphia and Ephesus.
Philadelphia was situated along an important trade route through the Hermus valley. The road brought trade and communication from the booming harbor of Smyrna, from the opulent citadels of Lydia, and connected them all with the distant regions of Phrygia in the East. Added to this was the fact that the Imperial Post-Road winding its way from Roman via Troas, Pergamum, and Sardis sliced through Philadelphia as well.
In 17 AD a massive earthquake devastated the region destroying twelve major cities including Philadelphia and Sardis. The aftershocks continued for years afterward terrorizing the inhabitants of the cities. Philadelphia was rebuilt thanks in large part to a generous donation from Emperor Tiberius. In his honor, they renamed the city Neo-Caesarus. In fact, Philadelphia changed its name several times. Under Emperor Caracalla it was named Neokoros and then changed its name to Flavia. Today it is named Alasehir which means The Reddish City or The City of God.
The city of Philadelphia was known for three things; first it was known as a missionary city, second, it was known as a city where people lived in continual dread of impending calamity and third it was known as a city that took on a new name from the Imperial cult during the Roman period.
By the 2nd and 3rd centuries, Philadelphia began to recover from the devastation and continual terror of the earthquakes in the area and thrived. During the Byzantine and medieval times, the city continued to prosper.
During the 14th century, it stood alone
against the might of the Turks as a free, autonomous Christian city. Twice it was besieged by the Turks, who brought its citizenry to the brink of starvation but Philadelphia would not be cowed and she resisted the enemy with a persistent determination that saw her victorious in the end.