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 Romans 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
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
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
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:
6 Baths of Scholastikia
7 Fountain of Trajan
8 Gate of Hercule
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
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
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