EPHESUS.Ancient city of Ephesus,The House of the Virgin Mary.TURKEY
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The Acient City of EPHESUS.


Grassy mounds surrounding the ancient city of Ephesus, Turkey, conceal the remains of a Neolithic settlement dating from 6000 B.C. Excavations have revealed tools of stone, obsidian and bronze among walls of sun-dried brick. The early settlers survived by hunting for birds and animals, as well as fishing in the nearby Aegean Sea.

During the early Bronze Age (1500 - 1400 B.C.), Mycenaean Greeks migrated to the area, founding the settlement of Apasa on the Ayasuluk Hill. Mycenaean pottery has been discovered in burial mounds here dating from this time.

The fall of Mycenaean culture (around 1100 B.C.) marked the beginning of the Dark Age, when much of Mediterranean civilization collapsed and the great Mycenaean palaces were abandoned or destroyed. According to myth, the Athenian hero Androclus was directed by the Oracle at Delphi to found the city of Ephesus near the site of Apasa. He drove away the natives and united his people with the Ionian Greeks living nearby.

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Ephesus emerged as one of the largest and most important cities of the ancient world. Located on the west coast of Anatolia (modern Turkey), it was a major center for trade, rivaled in size only by the cities of Rome and Alexandria. Eventually, the city was subjected to Roman rule and later played a central role in early Christianity.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, the city declined during the Byzantine era. Due to the constant silting of the harbor, Ephesus lost importance as a port of trade. It was eventually conquered by the Turks, and by the 15th century A.D., the city was abandoned and fell into ruin.

At the height of its glory, Ephesus was an important cultural and religious center. Perhaps the most famous temple of Ephesus was the cult center for worship of Artemis (Diana). Pilgrims flocked to her temple to pray for her favor, and the many-breasted statue erected in her temple was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

The city was also home to the Great Theater, used by the Romans for gladiatorial games. Visitors and citizens alike could relax in the luxurious public baths, fed by one of the most sophisticated aqueduct systems in the world.

In A.D. 125, Gaius Julius Aquila built the Library of Celsus to honor his father. This impressive structure once held an estimated 12,000 scrolls. The building has been reconstructed as a magnificent example of Roman architecture and is an important landmark of Ephesus history.

Sightseers following a map of the city will stroll along the famous Marble Road, part of the sacred way which leads to the Temple of Artemis. Other important structures include the Odeon (a small, covered theater), the Temple of Hadrian, the agoras (public areas) and the Tomb of Pollio.

The House of the Virgin Mary is said to have been the last home of Mary, Mother of Jesus. She is believed to have spent her last days in Ephesus in the company of St. John and his followers. According to the New Testament, St. John spent a number of years preaching here; Saint John's Basilica is located on what is believed to be his final resting place.

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Main Sights
The site is large. In fact, Ephesus contains the largest collection of Roman ruins East of the Mediterranean. Only an estimated 15% has been excavated. The ruins that are visible give some idea of the city's original splendour, and the names associated with the ruins are evocative of its former life. The theater dominates the view down Harbour Street which leads to the long silted-up harbor.

The Odeon - a small roofed theatre constructed by Vedius Antonius and his wife in around 150 A.D. It was a small salon for plays and concerts, seating about 1,500 people. There were 22 stairs in the theater. The upper part of the theatre was decorated with red granite pillars in the Corinthian style. The entrances were at both sides of the stage and reached by a few steps.

The Temple of Hadrian dates from the 2nd century but underwent repairs in the 4th century and has been reerected from the surviving architectural fragments. The reliefs in the upper sections are casts, the originals being now exhibited in the Sel├žuk Archaeological Museum. A number of figures are depicted in the reliefs, including the emperor Theodisius I with his wife and eldest son.

The Temple of Domitian was one of the largest temples on the city. It was erected on a pseudodipteral plan with 8 x 13 columns. The temple and its statue are some of the few remains connected with Domitian.
The Theater - At an estimated 44,000 seating capacity, it is believed to be the largest outdoor theater in the ancient world.

The Tomb/Fountain of Pollio - erected by a grateful city in 97 AD in honor of C. Sextilius Pollio, who constructed the Marnas aqueduct, by Offilius Proculus. It has a concave facade.
There were two agoras, one for commercial and one for state business.

Seven Sleepers
Ephesus is believed to be the city of the Seven Sleepers. The story of the Seven Sleepers, who are considered saints by Catholics and Muslims, tells that they were persecuted because of their belief in God and that they slept in a cave near Ephesus for centuries

Ephesus is a tremendously popular tourist site. Located near the town of Selcuk (about an hour's drive south of Izmir,Turkey), it is easily accessible through the Adnan Menderes airport or the nearby seaport of Kusadasi.

Bus tours and private tours of the ruins can be arranged from Selcuk.

First-rate accommodations for travelers are offered at the Ephesus Princess Hotel in Selcuk, located in the vicinity of the St. John the Baptist Church. Bus transportation is available and provides easy access for Ephesus tours.
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