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Located near the eastern end of the Sea of Marmara on what is now Lake Iznik, Nicea was built on the site that was originally called Ancore/ Helicore. A town called Antigoneia was built on this site late in the fourth century before [[Christ]] by the
Macadonian king Antigonus I Monophthalmus, who had been one of Alexander the Great’s generals. There are two version of how Nicea received its name. In one story the town later came under the control of Lysimachus who rename the town Nicea after his wife. In another account it was founded by Alexander’s men from Nicea near Thermopylae.
Nicea attained commercial importance as it was on the crossroads between Galatia and Phrygia. In this regard Nicea was a rival of nearby [[Nicomedia]]. Its importance carried through and continued after the founding of [[Constantinople]] as the capital of the Eastern Empire. The nearness of Nicea to Constantinople appeared to have contributed to the use of the city in the important events involving the Church and the Roman emperors. It was only 43 miles (70 km) from the capital. Nicea was encircled by a wall that was 14,520 feet (4,426 meters) long. The wall is almost entirely intact today.