The ancient Greek city of Ephesus, also know as Efeze, was once one of the world’s greatest cities. It ranked only behind Rome in its size and importance during the Roman period, at which time (1st century BC) it was the second largest city in the world.
Famed for its Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, Ephesus has an incredible number of ruins that, with just a small amount of imagination, can take you back to what life was like for ancient Greeks and Romans.
Ephesus’s most spectacular site has to be the façade of the Library of Celsus. Constructed between 110 and 135AD, the library originally had three floors and its galleries were stocked with scrolls, and a reading room faced east to take advantage of the morning light. An earthquake destroyed the Library in the 10th century (along with most of the city). The gorgeous façade and front portico that can be seen today were reconstructed in the 1970s.
Other sites include the Theater, Basilica of St. John, the Cave of the Seven Sleepers, Church of Mary, House of the Virgin, the Isabey Mosque, the Prytaneion, the synagogue and the Temple of Hadrian. All the sites are in varying states of disrepair. Unfortunately, all that remains of the Temple of Artemis, rumoured to have been four times as large as the Parthenon and constructed entirely of marble, is one lone column standing in a marshy basin.
Ephesus is also one of the seven churches of Asia listed in the Bible's Book of Revelations. Because of the city's ties to biblical figures, it is an important sacred site for Christians as well as a historical one. But Christianity is not the only religion represented in the ruins - there is also the Isabey Mosque, as well as the foundations of what was likely a synagogue.
Not to be missed are the remains of a brothel and sophisticated latrine, just off the main street leading down to the Library of Celsus.
Ephesus is southwest of Selcuk, 80km (50mi) from central Izmir. Most people visit the ancient city on a guided tour.
Tours & Tickets
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