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Smyrna (modern Izmir) is located on a deep sheltered bay of the Aegean Sea. It is located at the end of a very important ancient road which came from the east.
By the time of the early church, Smyrna was a center of emperor worship and a very close ally of Rome. It is the second of the seven churches that John addressed in the book of Revelation (1:11; 2:8–11). John prophesies about the persecution to come, and indeed Polycarp, who was burned for his faith in the stadium at Smyrna, is one of the first Christian martyrs (at the age of 86 in A.D. 156).