According to ancient inscriptions, Ephesus is thought to
have been inhabited since around 3000 BC, roughly the same
time as Smyrna, and evidence of Ion, Roman, Byzantine, Seljukian
and Ottoman civilisations are still seen today. The ancient
city was a good centre for trading, mainly because of its
location close to coast, and religion. It was known for the
cult of Cybele, the Anatolian fertility goddess, then later
for Artemis, the virgin goddess for which a temple was built
in her honour.
The temple was destroyed in 356BC, and when Alexander the
Great passed through in 334 BC he offered to pay for the cost
of a new construction, provided it was dedicated to him. The
Ephesus people declined, and rebuilt it with great success.
When the Romans made Ephesus their provincial capital, it
became a busy town with great commercial, trading and political
importance, and a population that grew to around 250,000.
A significant Christian community grew, and the city was visited
by St John the Evangelist in the 1st century, then by St Paul,
who was there between 51-53 AD and wrote some of his epistles.
It was also the venue of two Ecumenical Councils.
But the success of Roman Ephesus began to dwindle, mainly
because of problems connected to the harbour, which was the
main source of trade. The Cayster River was pushing silt up
the harbour and despite attempts to dredge it and rebuild
the harbour, the sea was pushed back to Pamucak, 4km away,
and therefore Ephesus lost its source of wealth. By the 6th
century, the city was unliveable and was shifted near to St
John’s Basilica, and by 1090 it was taken over by the Turks.
Selcuk Ephesus Archeology Museum: With a fine collection
of statues, mosaics and artefacts, the museum in the centre
of Selcuk helps shed a little more light on the Ephesus ruins.
Many found before World War I were taken to the Vienna Museum,
but wherever possible, most were returned after World War
The museum shows around 50,000 exhibits, in chronological
order, from the Miken, Archaic, Roman, Byzantine and Turk
periods, and is split into Archaeological and Ethnographic
sections. The most interesting items include the Myken vases
found at Ayasuluk Hill, pieces from temple of Artemis, a tomb
from the Belevi Mausoleum, two statues of Artemis, an embossed
image of Theodosius from Hadrian Temple, and many more statues
and portraits from early Christianity. The ethnographic section
is set up in an arasta (row of shops) with examples of Turkish
and Ottoman daily life.
After entering from the lower gate, a path on the right takes
you to a Church which holds a 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
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.
This is one of 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.
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.
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 heating and cooling system
present equivalent to today's air condition system.
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.
Temple of Hadrian 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 Temple of Hadrian, is the Trajan Fountain.
Near the Library of Celcus, at the bottom of the slope of
the mount, is the terrace 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.
Odeon that built by Publis Vedius Antonius a rich man of
ephesus at 2nd cemtury AC, cover was wooden plated at its
Artemis Temple: It is known that first
ephesus settlements was built around these temple place. Temple
collapsed by an earth quake than ephesusians built temple
more imposing by the support of Roman empire. Ephesus Artemis
Temple known as one of the seven wonders of world today only
base ruins remained.
St. Jean Basilica: Basilisca that built
by Byzantine Empire Justinyen for the name of St. Jean at
6th AC, is take place on Ayasuluk hill. Cross planed building
have entrance at west is 40 X 110 m. sized, and an domed type
Seven Sleepers: 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
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 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 here 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.
Sirince Village: 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.