Update: The Ephesus Archeoligoical Site is open for visiting but due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, you can enjoy a virtual Ephesus Tour by clicking here. But first, we suggest you to read our article for a better experience.
New York, London, Tokyo, Berlin… These are great cities of the modern world. Ephesus was one of the greatest cities of the old world, which hosts one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world: The Temple of Artemis.
Ephesus was an ancient Greek city, and later a major Roman city, on the west coast of Asia Minor, near present-day Selçuk, Izmir Province, Turkey. It was one of the twelve cities of the Ionian League during the Classical Greek era. In the Roman period, Ephesus had a population of more than 250,000 in the 1st century BC, which also made it one of the largest cities in the Mediterranean world.
The city was famed for the Temple of Artemis (completed around 550 BC), one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Emperor Constantine, I rebuilt much of the city and erected new public baths. Following the Edict of Thessalonica from emperor Theodosius I, the temple was destroyed in 401 AD by a mob led by St.John Chrysostom. The town was partially destroyed by an earthquake in 614 AD. The city’s importance as a commercial center declined as the harbour was slowly silted up by the Cayster River (Küçük Menderes).
Ephesus was one of the seven churches of Asia that are cited in the Book of Revelation. The Gospel of John may have been written here. The city was the site of several 5th century Christian Councils, see Council of Ephesus. It is also the site of a large gladiators’ graveyard.
Today’s archaeological site lies 3 kilometres southwest of the town of Selçuk, in the Selçuk district of İzmir Province, Turkey. The ruins of Ephesus are a favourite international and local tourist attraction, partly owing to their easy access from Adnan Menderes Airport and via the port of Kuşadası.
In the Hittite era, the name of the city was Apasas. In about 1050 BC, migrants from Greece began to live in this port, which moved to the vicinity of the Temple of Artemis in 560 BC. The city of Ephesus, of which ruins are visited today, was founded by one of Alexander the Great’s generals, Lysimachus, in about 300 BC. Ephesus enjoyed its golden age in the Hellenistic and Roman periods, and as the capital of the province of Asia and a big port, its population was 200,000. However, in the Byzantine era, the city moved once again and came to the Ayasuluk Hill in Selçuk, where it was founded for the first time.
The areas where Ephesus located on as follows:
Ephesus I: Aya Suluk (St. John Area);
Ephesus II: Artemission area;
Ephesus III: Port of St. Paul: base of Mount Koressos;
Ephesus IV: north of Aya Suluk;
Ephesus V: Selcuk area.
You can walk from Selçuk. It is a 4km walk in a good asphalt way. It is also possible to take a taxi, which is relatively expensive, compared to other Turkish transportation. Most pensions and hotels in Selçuk offer rides to Ephesus. The cheaper way is to go by minibuses(shared taxi)(Called as Dolmuş in Turkish) which are available every 10-15 minutes from Selcuk central bus station or from Kusadasi Dolmuş stop. The minibus will leave you at around 1km from the gate situated downhill. –Accession to Selcuk–
- By airway to Izmir International airport. By train(IZBAN rail from the airport), By bus (from Izmir central bus station) or Hotel shuttles to Selcuk. Airport to Selçuk, 55 Km
- By cruise ship via the port of Kuşadası. By bus or minibus (from Kusadasi central bus station), or by taxi to Selcuk,19 Km.
Entry tickets cost 100 TL/person (about 10 EUROs / 13 USDs as of 2021). You may want to consider a visit to another archaeological site in Aegean Turkey: Aphrodisias. With an entrance fee of only 8 TL, it has perhaps more value than Ephesus.
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The grounds of Ephesus are seen entirely on foot. Pathways are signed clearly and easily navigated as you make your way through the park. The ruins are situated on the bank of a hill. There are two entry/exit points. The entire ruins are easily covered on foot within two hours.
There are many souvenir shops at the two exit gates. You may find Turkish hand made articles. Haggling is possible. The best way is to compare prices in two or three more shops before you buy. It is not a good place to buy carpet and leather, you can buy them in big shops at Selcuk at a reasonable price.
There are many fast food and small Turkish restaurants at the exit gates. You can find many nice restaurants on the way to Selcuk or Kusadasi or in the towns.
There are many cafés at the exit gates.
There are no accommodations on-site in the ancient city itself. Nearest options are in Selçuk, 4 km away. There are also lots of people visiting Ephesus on a day-trip from coastal Kuşadası, a bit further away.
Must-See Places in Ephesus
Vedius Gymnasium and Stadium
Soon after the entrance to the site are the ruins of Vedius Gymnasium, which was built by a wealthy local businessman in the late 2nd century, in the name of Vedius Antonius. It is a magnificent structure, built as a venue for sporting and cultural education and contains exercise fields and covered rooms, baths, changing rooms, a courtyard and ceremonial room in the centre. To the south is the Stadium, where races, games, and Olympic events took place.
There is a building dated to the 6th century BC on a hill known as Acropolis at opposite side to stadium. There is a temple dated to years of 350 BC at north – west of the hill.
Byzantine Public Baths
After Stadium way coming across to the Byzantines public baths.
Church of St Mary (Double Church)
Near the Byzantine public baths, this Church holds special importance in Christian history. Built between the 2nd and 4th centuries AD, it was originally a museum and venue for lectures and debates. It was destroyed by fire in the 4th century and rebuilt as a church, which became the venue of the third Ecumenical Council in 431. It is the first church to be dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
Port Public Baths
The public baths first built at 2nd century AC, it restored and some changes made on building at the 4th-century empire in empire Konstantinus period.
Arkadiane (Port Street)
Beyond the church is Arcadiane Way, a huge wide street over 500m long and 11m wide. Named after 5th century Byzantine Emperor Arcadius who renovated it, it was the street which ran towards the port, and where kings were greeted and religious ceremonies took place. The 400m long Marble Street, also known as Sacred Way, begins at the base of the theatre and runs alongside the agora and Serapis Temple, and was rebuilt during the 5th century.
Theatre of Ephesus
This is one of the most beautiful and best-preserved of all the ruins and is used as the venue for the annual Ephesus Festival. With a capacity of 25,000, it was built during the Hellenistic period, with reconstruction continuing during Empire Claudius’s times, and finalised between 98-117 AD.
Marble floored street that starts from Magnesia gate placed at south-east of Ephesus and lie towards the Koresos gate placed at the north-west of the city, approximately 400 m long street is rebuilt at the 5th AC.
Library of Celsus
The library is adjacent to the commercial Agora, built by Asian consul Gaius Julius Aquila, in 135AD, in memory of his father who is entombed here. In a building showing all the characteristics of Roman architecture, the front is ornately decorated with replicas of statues of four women between the front columns, symbolising mind, destiny, science and wisdom. The originals are in the Vienna Museum.
When you go up from marble street, at the cross-section point with Kuretler street Love house can be seen. This interesting house dated to first century AC, consist of one main hall and many rooms connected to this hall. It is estimated that the mosaic girl portraits found in love house are figures of working girls in this building. It is very interesting that in the love house there is and the heating and cooling system present equivalent to today’s air condition system. It is known that there were wine granaries, huge ovens, public baths, pools, bedrooms, conference saloons and a magnificent library.
Skolastika Public Bath
A wealthy Roman woman, Skolastika, restored these baths in the 5th century, although they were probably built 400 years earlier. They were heated by a central heating system, and are an interesting example of the use of marble. Her headless statue adorns the entrance.
Hadrian Temple of Ephesus
This is one of the most beautiful buildings on Curetes Way, although only the front façade remains today. In the architrave is an interesting mythological scene, depicting Andoklus killing a wild boar.
Next to the Gate of Hercules and near the Temple of Hadrian, is the Trajan Fountain. There used to be a huge statue of the emperor decorating the fountain, which is now exhibited in the Ephesus Museum.
Near the Library of Celcus, at the bottom of the slope of the mount, is a row of houses that were thought to be the residences of the wealthy people of Ephesus. The recent restorations pay close attention to their original form of opening straight onto the street with wide stairs, walls decorated with mosaics and frescoes, and marble plating.
Temple of Domitian
This is the first temple to be built in the name of an emperor, dedicated to Emperor Domitian (AD 81-96). Opposite this was the governmental agora, which was placed in the most central and beautiful place in the city. The head and arms are the only remaining pieces of the huge statue, which are exhibited at Izmir Archaeology Museum, and the entrance pedestals are at Ephesus Museum.
City Hall (Prytaneion)
On the right of the assembly palace, a Hestia altar with a sacred fire burning continuously is accepted as a holy site. This was the venue of political duties, important ceremonies and official greetings, and one of the most important religious places in Ephesus.
Odeon tat built by Publis Vedius Antonius a rich man of Ephesus at 2nd century AC, the cover was wooden plated at its times.
The temple of Artemis is known as one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. It has been built in the areas of Ephesus on a flat area which has over the centuries turned into a swamp. Today one can only see the ruins of the foundations of this marvellous construction of the Hellenistic Age, entirely made of marble and full of sculptured columns’ capitals and shafts. The most beautiful remaining of this temple are today exhibited in the London British Museum.
The oldest remaining found date back till the 6th century BC. It was surrounded by 36 huge columns, later enlarged upon the orders of the Lydia King, Kreisos, during the 6th century BC. Most of the exhibits in the London British Museum belong to this period.
The new Artemis has been rebuilt in the 2nd century BC. Located on top of the previous one, it had tremendous dimensions: 127 columns of each 17,5 meters high. Unfortunately, this one has also been destroyed by fire, reconstructed and again demolished by earthquakes, rebuilt and at last looted by Goths one year later.
The statue of many-breasted Artemis was the symbol of the temple but also of abundance, hunting and wildlife. The genuine statue of Artemis, removed during the fire, is today exhibited in the Selcuk Museum. Many copies of this statue found during the latest excavations date back from the Roman period.
St. Jean Basilica
Basilisca that built by Byzantine Empire Justinyen for the name of St. Jean at 6th AC, is taking place on Ayasuluk Hill. Cross planed building have an entrance at west is 40 X 110 m. sized, and a domed type basilica.
According to rumour, before the acceptance of Christianity as an official religion, seven young men fled from Ephesus in the 3rd century and took refuge here. They sealed up the cave and fell asleep, and were woken up 200 years later by an earthquake which broke the seal. When they awoke and walked into the town, they realised that Ephesus was now an official Christian city. It was deemed to be a miraculous event, and when the young men died they were buried in the same cave, which is now a Byzantine-era grotto. The adjacent building is named after them and has a large monument, many rock-engraved tombs, two churches and catacombs.
The Virgin Mary House
Beyond Ephesus and on Bulbul Dag (mountain), 8km southwest of Selcuk, the monument is thought by some to be where the Virgin Mary died, and is visited by Christian and Muslim pilgrims from around the world. The small stone house is now a chapel and probably dates back to the 4th century, although the foundations are thought to be the 1st century.
It was not until a German nun, Catherine Emmerich (1774-1824) claimed that she had visions of Mary living in a small, stone house’ in even though the nun had never left Germany. Following her descriptions, 19th-century clergy discovered the foundations of the house, which was then verified by a Papal visit in 1967. It has since been accepted that Mary spent her last few years in there until she died at the age of 101.
The Feast of Assumption, on August 15, is celebrated here by the Orthodox Greeks, and Mass is said daily. The church can only be accessed by car, as no public buses come through the dense forest surrounding it.
Pope Paul VI visited the shrine on July 26, 1967, and Pope John Paul II on November 30, 1979. Pope Benedict XVI visited this shrine on November 29, 2006, during his four-day pastoral trip to Turkey. The conclusion of his homily mentioned the martyrdom of Father Andrea Santoro in Trabzonwhich had taken place nine months prior to this visit.
Monuments And Tombs
Situated on the Izmir highway 13km from Selcuk, this mausoleum is in the town of Belevi, and one of the biggest and highest monuments in Anatolia, after the Halicarnassus Mausoleum. It dates back to the Hellenistic era.
Ayasuluk Hill and Castle
This hill was protected well-forticicated castle during the early Christian, Byzantine and Seljuklian periods. The rampart which still outstanding, built at early Christianity period than take a big restoration in Seljuklian period.
The aqueduct, which can be seen around the train station, is a relic of the Byzantine times. The canal brought water from the east, through Ayasuluk hill. This aqueduct and its immediate surrounding area have become a breeding and nesting place for storks, which have become a modern-day symbol of Selcuk. There is another aqueduct 6km along the highway to Aydin, known as the Gaius Sextillius Pollio Aqueduct.
On the valley slopes outside Selcuk, Sutni Cave has stalactites and stalagmites that drip white water into the cave. The belief is that mothers of new-born babies who have insufficient milk should drink the water from the cave.
Mosques Nad Publıc Baths
İsa Bey Mosque Near the Artemision are the mosque and baths, examples of very distinguished Seljuk monuments. They were built by Isa Bey in 1375 and boast innovative architecture that combines Seljuk and Ottoman style, with a courtyard and hoop stalactite vaulting over the entrance. The Hamam has classical Turkish features and is also domed.
The water at the Selcuk Gevekirse lake is a bird protection and breeding area, in a 1000 hectare site between Ephesus and Pamcak, north of Ephesus. There are between 30 and 40 species of birds and mammals living here, including divers, pelicans, many types of ducks, woodcocks, as well as wild boar, foxes and jackals.
This small village 7km through the hills from Selcuk, is attractive for its setting among fruit orchards, old-fashioned stone houses with red-tiled roofs, and narrow streets. It is also famous for its home-made wine, and lace made by the local women.
Once known as Kirkince, the village was built the Greeks around 800 years ago and since the population exchange in 1924 has since been inhabited by Muslims from Salonica. The village has a few guest-houses and restaurants and is popular with foreign and Turkish tourists to experience a taste of traditional village life in a peaceful environment.
The extended list to should see:
East Gymnasium and State Agora Baths
Upper Agora (State Agora) and the Basilica
Temple of Domitian
Fountain of Pollio
Monument of Memmius
Gate of Heracles
Street of Curetes
Fountain of Trajan
Temple of Hadrian
Public Toilet (Latrine)
House of Love
Stoa of Alytarkhus
Library of Celcus
South Gate of Agora
Harbor Street (Arcadiane)
Church of Mary
Palace Structure, Stadium Street, Stadium and Gymnasium
Temple of Artemis