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A beautiful and mysterious landscape full of tradition
The Most Famous Ancient City in Turkey

Ephesus is located approx 3 kilomtres southwest of present day Selcuk. The name comes from Ephesos (Greek) in Turkish Efes and originally was from the Hitite name of Apasa. Recent excavations have unearthed settlements from the Bronze Age. According to Hittite sources, the capital of the Kingdom of Arzaea was Apasa. In 1954 a burial ground from the Mycenaean era (1500-1400BC) was discovered close to the ruins of the Basilica of St John.


About 560 BC Ephesus was conquered by the Lydians under King Croesus who treated the inhabitants with respect. He was the main contributor to the reconstruction of the Temple of Artemis. Later defeated by the Persians in 547 the Greek cities of Asia Minor came under control of the Archaemenid Empire.

Little is known about the Archaic period. In the Classical Period Ephesus continued to prosper. But when taxes were raised under Cambyses and Darius the Ehesians participated in the Ionian Revolt againt Persian Rule. The Perions were ousted from Asia Minor following after the Greco-Persian wars.

This and subsequent Persian wars did not affect daily live in Ephesus. It was modern in its thinking and social relations. Strangers were able to integrate and education was valued. Through the cult of Artemis the city upheld womens rights and had women artits. In 356 the Temple of Artemis was burned down, by Herostratus and the inhabitants set about rebuilding an even larger and grander Temple.

When Alexander the Great finally deafeated the Persian foreces in 334BC the Greek cities of Asia Minor were liberated. When Alexander saw the the Temple of Artemis was not yet finished it proposed to finance it have his name inscribed on the front, but the inhabitants of Ephesus demurred, claiming it was not fitting for one god to build a temple to another. After Alexanders death in 323 BC Ephesus came under the rule of one his General Lysimachus.

The city flourised and came under Roman control in 129BC. It is believed to have a over 50000 inhabitants in the Roman period, the 3rd largest after Sardis and Alexandria Troas.


Ephesus was an important centre for early Christianity from AD50s. St Paul lives in Ephesus organising missionary activity into the hinterlands. He wrote the between 53 and 57 AD Letter to the Corinthians. and he wrote the Epistle to the Ephsians while he was imprisoned in Rome around 62AD. Legend has it that Mary the Mother of Jesus lived under the care of John 7kms north of modern day Selcuk and is a pilgramage place for Christians and Muslins alike and has been visited by 3 popes. The Chuch of Mary close to the harbour of E[hesus was the setting for the Third Ecumenical Council in 431CAD.

Ephesus was one of the Seven Churches of Asia Minor cited in the Book of Revelations. The Gospel of St John may have been written here and the city was the venue for 5th Century Christian Councils.  The emperor Constantine rebuilt much of the city and erect a ndwpublic bath. Ephesus remained the most important city of Byzantine Empire in Asia after Constantinople. The Basilica of St John was built during the reign of Emperior Justianian, supposedly over the apostles tomb.

The town was partically destroyed by an earthquake in 614. The importance of the city as a commerical centre declined as the harbour slowly silted up by the river. The loss of ths harbour meant that Ephesus lost its access to the Aegean Sea important for trade. People started to migrate to the surrounding hills and the ruins of the temples were used for new homes. Marble statues were ground to powder to make lime for plaster.  Sacking by the Arabas in 654-655 and later in early 700AD hastened the decline.  When the Seljuk Turks conquered Ephsus in 1090 it was a small town. The Byzantines resumed control in 1097 and changed the name of the town to Hagios Theologos, Crusaders passed through found a small village called Ayasalouk where the expecting a bustling city. The Second Crusade fought the Seljuks just outside the town in 1147.


The town surrendered to Sasa Bey a Turkish warlord in 1304. Contrary to the terms of the surrender the Turks pillaged the Church of St John and deported the local population to Thyrea in Greece. During these events many of those who remained were massacred. It was then ceded to the Aydinid principality who had stationed a powerful navy in the harbour of Ayasulug (present day Selcuk).

The town had a short period of flourisment in the 14 Century under new Selcuk rulers when Mosques, caravansaries and turkish bathhouses were built. The town was incoprorated into the Ottoman Empire in 1425. In the 15h CAD Ephesus was completely abandoned. Nearby Ayasulug was renamed Selcuk in 1914.

What to See


Located 8 km above Selcuk down the mountain from the ancient site of Ephesus, the House of the Virgin Mary is believed to be the last place where Mary the Mother of Jesus lived. It is a pilgrimage place for both Christians and Muslims alike!


The Library of Celsus, the facade of which has been carefully reconstructed from all the original peices. It was originaly build in 125AD in memory of Tiberius Julius Celsus a governor of Roman Asia 105-107. Celsus paid for the construction of library and is buried in a sarcophagus beneath it. It once held 12000 scrolls.



The Odean, a small roofed theater constructed by Vedius Antonius around 150AD.
The Temple of Hadrian dates from 2CAD and underweant repairs in 4CAD, now reerected from survining fragments.
The Temple of Sebostoi dedicated to the Flavian dynasty was one of the largest temples – the temple and its statue are some of the few remains connected with Domitian.

The theatre is believed to be the largest outdoor theatre in the ancient world with a seating capacity of more 25,000.
The Magnesia Gate, Eastern Gymnasium, State Agors, Prytaneion, Memius Monument, House of Love are among other structures in Ephesus.

Temple of Artemis was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World now only one inconspicuous column revealed by excation by the British Museum in 1870s.

The Terraced Houses  have been recently  opened to the public.   This magnificent excavation is under cover with glass walkways.. Built into the side of the hill with wonderful original mosiac floors in situ they are a must see on the Ephesus site.

Seven Sleepers  is believed to be the city of the Seven Sleepers. They are considered to be saints by Catholic and Orthodox Christians, and are  also mentioned in the Quaan. Legedn has it that they were persecuted because  of their belief in God and that they slept in a cave near Ephesus for centuries.


Basilicia of St John. located in old centre of Selcuk itself was built in the 6CAD by the Emperor Justinian, supposedly over the site of the apostles tomb.

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