Ephesus, made of stone and marble, is one of the most beautiful cities in Antiquity. Formely it was a flourishing port where the Royal Road from Sardis naturally opened on the sea, but because of the silting up of its different harbours, it lost its pre-eminence. Ephesus witnessed successive settlements at different places in different times. First, native Anatolian populations (Amazons, Carians, Lelegians) who whorshipped the Great Earth Mother Cybele, who later was identified to Artemis of Ephesus. The second Ephesus was founded in the 11C BC on the slopes of Mount Pion (Panayır Dağı) by Ionian Greeks. In the mid-6C BC, Ephesus acknowledged king Croesus of Lydia as suzerain before beeing ruled by the Persians in 546 BC. As an attempt to regain its freedom, like other Ionian cities, Ephesus joined the Delian League in 478. In 334 BC, after Alexander the Great conquested the Persian Empire, his sucessor general Lysimachus founded the third city between Mount Pion and Mount Coressus (Bülbül dağı). In 190 BC, it was controlled by the kingdom of Pergamum, ally of Rome, and finally in 129 BC passed into the Roman’s hands, and became the capital of the Roman Province in Asia Minor, but was run under its proper laws. In the 2C AD, Ephesus reached its climax thanks to a wealthy and intellectual population who built luxuous marble monuments. The ruins which can be seen today date back to that period.
Ephesus was not only the meeting point of ancient religions, but was above all a place from where Christianity spread. Between 55 and 58, St Paul spent two and a half years in Ephesus on his third missionary journey.Through his sermons and proselytism, he made many conversions among the Jewish and Greek colonies. But as he damaged the profit that priests and others were making out of the cult of goddess Artemis whose supporters were more powerful, a riot finally forced him to flee. Paul is also believed to have been imprisoned in Ephesus where he wrote a part of his epistles. Between 37 and 48, John and the Virgin Mary came to Ephesus and lived here. Christianity finally prevailed over paganism and Ephesus became the third city of the Christian world after Jerusalem and Antioch. Between 196 and 476, six conciles were held in Ephesus. In 431 Emperor Theodosius II convoqued a third ecumenical concile at which the dogm relating to the divine maternity of the Virgin Mary was established, making her the "Theotokos" (Mother of God), as well as Christ's double human and divine nature. Ephesus was among the Seven Churches of Revelation.
In the 6th century, the harbour totally silted up by the alluvial deposits of the Cayster river, the new Byzantine city spread around the Basilica of St John. In the 8th century, repeated raids by the Arabs and once again the impossibility for the ships to come alongside gave the city the deathblow. Conquired by the Turks at the end of the 14th century, the fifth settlement called Ayasuluk took the name Selçuk centuries later, in 1914.
Ephesus was also home for the philosopher Heraclitus who lived in the 6C BC.

The following main places of interest are eather located around or in Selçuk..

There are two main entrances to the archaelogical site, but as it slopes gently, it is recommended to start the visit from the upper entrance at the Gate of Magnesia:

1 Market Gate
2 Byzantine Fountain
3 Octagon
4 Brothel
5 Temple of Hadrian
6 Baths of Scholastikia
7 Fountain of Trajan
8 Gate of Hercule
9 Hydreion
10 Monument of Memnius
11 Square of Domitain
12 Museum of Inscriptions
13 Fountain of Polio

The Bath of Varius is a 2C AD Roman bath complex.

The State Agora
, a vast public square remodeled in the mid-1C BC, also had the function of a basilica.

The Odeon, built in the 2C AD, was used both as a theatre and a bouleterion for civic meetings. It had a
capacity of 1,400 people.

The Temples of Dea Roma and Divus Julius (1C AD) were intended for the Imperial Cult.

The Prytaneion was the city hall where political life and also ceremonies, banquets and receptions took place. In the Hestia Temple, the Curetes, who were the priestesses of Hestia, were in charge of the sacred flame burning eternely.

The Memmius Memorial

The Polio Fountain was built in the 2C BC and restored in the 3C AD. Water was brought here by aqueducs.

The Domitian Temple was the first sacred monument (1C AD) dedicated to a Roman emperor. Domitian, who was a tyrant-emperor, called himself “god-sovereign”.

The Hercules Gate has two reliefs depicting Hercules wearing a lion skin.

The Curetes Street is named after the priestesses of the Prytaneion.

The Nympheaum of Trajan was built in the 2C AD. The pedestal and the two feet of the colossal statue of Trajan where water was cascading into a pool, are among the remains of the huge fountain.

The Terrace Houses, dating from the 1C AD, were luxurious private houses. Most of them were three-storied and had open-air courtyard. They are beautifully decorated with frescoes and mosaics.

The Scholastikia Baths were a large three-storied complex founded in the 2C AD. In the 5C, the baths were restored with stones brought from the Prytaneion, by a Christian lady named Scholastikia whose statue can be seen here in a sitting position.

The Hadrian Temple, built in the 2C AD, is a very attractive Corinthian style temple. The beautiful columns and arch of the facade of the porch (pronaos) remain as well as the entrance to the cella. Friezes depicting mythological scenes were added in the 4C .

The Latrines were part of the Scholastica Baths and were for public use.

The Private House was a brothel part of the same complex. The statue of Priapus (the Anatolian god of abundance) found here is now exhibited in the Ephesus Museum.

The Celsius Library was built in the beginning of the 2C AD by Consul Gaius Julius Aquila, to the memory of his father Julius Celsus Polemaeanus who is buried here. The Library which has been restored betwen 1975-1980 has a two storied facade. The inside was composed of a sole hall containing three stories of niches where rolls and volumes were stored on shelves and inside chests. An external wall surrounded the building to keep it away from humidity. The three entrances are flanked by four niches with statues representing the virtues of Celsus: Sophia for wisdom, Arete for Valor, Ennoia for thought, and Episteme for Knowledge.

The Commercial Agora (market square) was built in the Hellenistic period and transformed in the 1C and 3C AD. It is surrounded by stoas behind which were shops and stores. According to the inscriptions in Greek and Latin of the south-east triple gateway, this gate was built by two enfranchised slaves Mazaeus and Mithridathes in honor of August and his wife Livia. A water-clock and a sundial stood in the middle of the Agora and hundreds of statues whose basis can still be seen, were erected here.

The Marble Road
was originally part of the Processional Road that stretched as far as the Artemis Temple through the Magnesian Gate.

The theatre was originally a 3C BC Hellenistic theatre, later transformed (a three storied skene or stage building was added) and enlarged by the Romans (1C and 2C AD) until it reached its present seating capacity of 24,000 people. The auditorium rises 30m/100ft above the orchestra.

The Arcadiane, of Hellenistic origin, was a 600m/1,970 ft long and 11m/36 ft wide colonnaded avenue renovated in honor of Arcadius in the 5C AD.

The Caves of the Seven Sleepers : the Legend of the Seven Sleepers states that this is where seven young Christian men and their dog were hiding from their persecutors, were found and murdered during the reign of Roman Emperor Decius in the mid 3rd century, and were resurrected 200 years later. As a result Christian believers wanted to be buried here and a graveyard of over a thousand graves, tombs and monasteries was formed on this site.
Ephesus II