Not more than 3 kilometers from Selchuk, at the mouth of the Small Meander river, lies perhaps the most famous ancient city on the coast of Asia Minor the city of Ephesus (Efes). The Ionian Greeks in about the year 1200 BC. founded a settlement near the ancient sanctuary of the Anatolian goddess of fertility Cybele. Under Greek influence, the cult of this goddess gave way to the cult of Artemis of Ephesus. After the reign of the Lydian king Croesus, Greeks and Persians succeeded each other here until this prosperous city was inherited in 190 BC.Pergamon Kingdom. When the Kingdom of Pergamum fell to the Romans (133 BC), Ephesus became the capital of the Roman province of Asia. Under the Roman emperors, Ephesus became one of the biggest cities in the ancient world with a population of more than 200 thousand people.
In 330, Constantine I the Great proclaimed Byzantium (Constantinople) as the new capital. The consequent gradual decline of Ephesus was further accelerated by the shallowing of the harbour. Earthquakes and Arab raids in 668 and 718 brought new destruction. Conquered first by the Seljuks (1304), then by the Mongols (1402) and the Ottomans (1426), the once most luxurious city in Asia Minor was reduced to piles of ruins for several centuries. As a result of excavations conducted since 1869 under the leadership of the Austrians (no wonder in Vienna’s Hofburg there is an Ephesus Museum with a Parthian frieze), the most extensive and best preserved remains of the ancient city in Turkey were discovered here. Most of the excavated buildings belong to the Roman era. You can see all of these buildings by participating our Ephesus Daily Tours.
The Sights Of Ephesus
After passing the entrance, you see on the right the square Verulana (II century), and on the left the theater-gymnasium (II-IV centuries), which is believed to have been the largest health institution in the city. The first important attraction on your way is the Bolshoi theatre of the first century. The well-preserved structure with a diameter of 130 meters with 66 rows could accommodate about 25 thousand people. In 53 BC. it became the scene of a dramatic conflict, when the Ephesians, loyal to Artemis, violently turned on the Apostle Paul, who was in the city, for his missionary activity. Arcadiana is clearly visible from the upper rows
At the theatre begins the Marble street leading to the South, on one side of which lies the lower Agora (market square) of a square shape, once bordered by shops. The length of its sides is 118 meters. At the end of Marble street on the right side is a two-storey building of the famous library of Celsus-a jewel of Roman architecture. It bears the name of the Roman proconsul and Governor Titus Julius Celsus, who died here and was buried in the library, at that time luxuriously decorated with colored marble. The Celsus library to the Southeast turns to the street Kuret, then lifting to the Upper Agora. On the left side of the road is a building that apparently was a brothel. On the right is the Octagon, the octagonal mausoleum of the Egyptian Princess Arsinoe IV. In her claim to the throne, she lost to Cleopatra VII (51-30 BC), known for her love Affairs with two generals, Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, and lived in exile in Ephesus.
Visiting the ruins
So, how to go Ephesus Ancient City? The ruins of Ephesus are open daily 8.30-18.30 (in winter they close at 17.30), the last tickets are sold 30 minutes before closing. To get here from Kusadasi, ask the dolmus driver to drop you off at the Tusan Motel, which is just a kilometer from the entrance gate to Ephesus and its ticket offices. From Selcuk it is better to get not by motor transport (unless, of course, you have your own car). You can give in to the persuasion of the cabs, which will take you to the place in a horse-drawn cart, or walk three kilometers, of which the first two-in the shade of mulberry trees on a parallel busy road track.
Cave Of The Seven Sleeping Youths
Before you approach the ruins through the lower entrance, after 300 meters turn off the road to the left, and then walk a kilometer to the Cave of the Seven Sleeping Youths, which is associated with a very touching legend. Seven young Christians of Ephesus, who refused to make a pagan sacrifice to the Roman Emperor Decius, who reigned in the second century, hid in this cave, were found and immured in it by the Imperial guards, and then fell deeply asleep. The earthquake destroyed the walls and woke them up, and when they went to the city for food, they found that 200 years had passed and Christianity had become the official religion. Seven men died soon after from the shock they had suffered and were buried in the same grotto, and a Church named after them was built over their graves.
The first hint that you are in the ancient city, which becomes visible long before you reach the miserable Parking lot with souvenir shops and tour buses, are the badly destroyed and no less heavily looted gymnasium of Vedius and the stadium founded by Nero. Just outside the entrance gate, take a sharp right onto the path marked “Meryem Kilisesi”. It will take you to St. Mary’s Church, an absurdly elongated building that was built sometime between the second and fourth centuries.
You can call us for more information about Ephesus Ancient City Tour.