The ancient city of Ephesus (Ephesos) takes you on an unforgettable journey through history; etched on minds as the home of the Blessed Virgin Mary, stretching back to the Neolithic period and inhabited in the greatest period of the Roman Empire. This ancient city was valued for a long time as a harbour town, and due to the excavations which have uncovered new sections and artefacts every year, the city continues to surprise its visitors and to maintain its historical value. Many famous classical philosophers, who are still read today, such as Heraclitus, lived in the scientific, artistic and cultural city of Ephesus. The ancient city of Ephesus, and especially its Temple of Artemis, one of the first temples, is recognised as one of the seven wonders of the world and since 2015 it has been included in the ‘World Heritage List’. Over the years the site has moved, and it is now spread over an area of 8kms. This breath-taking city attracts approximately 1.5 million tourists annually. It is believed that the Bible was written here and that the Virgin Mary died here, which gives it a special significance for Christians.
It is believed that Ephesus was founded as far back as 6000 BC and was built to pay homage to Artemis, the fertility goddess. The city of Ephesus was geographical, economically, politically and culturally significant. It was the capital of Hellenic Greece, one of the 12 cities of Ionia during the Classical Greek period, and the capital of the Roman Empire’s province of Asia. Today, to Christians, it is a place of pilgrimage.
It is said that the city took 120 years to build. On the day in 356 BC that the Temple of Artemis, which was located within the boundaries of the city, was set alight by a Greek, Alexander the Great was born.
The ancient city of Ephesus was built in four separate main areas: the Ayasuluk Hill, Artemision, Ephesus and Selçuk. Within the boundaries of the city are extremely valuable buildings, monuments and artefacts including the Temple of Artemis, the Celcus Library, House of the Virgin Mary, the Cave of the Seven Sleepers, the İsa Bey Mosque, the Prytaneion (Municipal Palace), Domitianus Square, St. John’s Castle, the Temple of Hadrian, and the Basilica of St. John. The ruins of the city’s famous ancient theatre, which could accommodate 24,000 people with its three-storey spectator stand, and which once played host to sporting competitions, gladiator battles and art performances, is popular among tourists. Terraced houses built on the hills are thought to have been inhabited by the city’s rich.
It is relatively easy to reach the ancient city of Ephesus, which is located in Izmir’s Selçuk district, from many different regions. Selçuk is situated on the road which runs between Izmir and Aydin and those who holiday in the area always visit Ephesus. You can easily reach the ancient city by the Selçuk ‘dolmuş’ (minibus) service. The minibus leaves from Izmir bus terminal, and you may then board the Ephesus service in Selçuk. Perhaps you will choose to spend part of your holiday in the beautiful town of Kuşadasi, which you can easily reach from Selçuk by minibus and the ride is about 20 minutes. If you are visiting Ephesus during the day, we would recommend that you take precautions to protect yourself from the sun. The region is usually hot, and the marble paving stones make you feel the heat of the sun even more strongly. You will find souvenir shops at the entrance to the ancient city of Ephesus in case you want to take your friends a small gift from your visit to this rare beauty. If you want to have a little rest during your stay and have something to eat or drink, the museum cafe will be happy to welcome you.