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History

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 II.

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.

Ephesus Ruins:
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 Mary.

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 times.

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 basilica.

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 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 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.