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Ephesus, Turkey

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Ephesus, Turkey

Ephesus (Turkish: Efes) is a large world heritage-listed archeological site in Aegean Turkey and one of the country's major tourist attractions.

Historical context

The ancient Greek city of Ephesus was famous for its Temple of Artemis (near present-day Selçuk), which was recognized as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. After a messy period of conquest and reconquest and after the population was moved from Selçuk to the present site, Ephesus became a Roman city in 133 BC.

When Augustus made Ephesus capital of Asia Minor in 27 BC, it proved to be a windfall for the seaport city. Its population grew to around 250,000, attracting immigrants, merchants, and imperial patronage. The annual festival of Artemis (Diana to... Read more

Ephesus, Turkey

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Ephesus (Turkish: Efes) is a large world heritage-listed archeological site in Aegean Turkey and one of the country's major tourist attractions.

Historical context

The ancient Greek city of Ephesus was famous for its Temple of Artemis (near present-day Selçuk), which was recognized as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. After a messy period of conquest and reconquest and after the population was moved from Selçuk to the present site, Ephesus became a Roman city in 133 BC.

When Augustus made Ephesus capital of Asia Minor in 27 BC, it proved to be a windfall for the seaport city. Its population grew to around 250,000, attracting immigrants, merchants, and imperial patronage. The annual festival of Artemis (Diana to the Romans) became a month-long spring fest, drawing thousands from across the empire.

Ephesus also attracted Christian settlers (Greeks and Jews), including St. Paul who lived in Ephesus for three years (in the AD 50s) There is a tradition that St. John settled here with Mary, the mother of Jesus, and also wrote his gospel here.

Ephesus was at its peak during the 1st and 2nd century AD. It was a major Roman city second in importance and size only to Rome. Ephesus has been estimated to be about 400,000 inhabitants in the year 100 AD, making it the largest city in Roman Asia. In 123 AD, the Library of Celsus (third largest library in the ancient world, after Alexandria and Pergamon) was constructed at Ephesus.

Despite several dredging and rebuilding efforts, Ephesus' harbor continued to silt up. Malarial swamps developed, the seaport was lost, and the lucrative Artemis/Diana cult diminished. In 263 AD, Germanic Goths sacked Ephesus, marking the decline of ancient Ephesus as well as the Roman empire.

Archaeology and Tourism

History forgot Ephesus until the 1860s when a series of British, German, and Austrian archeologists rediscovered and excavated the site (see e.g., Vienna's Ephesus Museum). Although only about 15% of the site has been unearthed, it is still the largest excavated area in the world.

The Ephesus archeological site has developed into one of the most highly frequented archeological sites, due not only to the excellent state of preservation but also to the visitor-friendly presentation of the monuments. Mass tourism is a great challenge for archeology: in the 2010s, an average of 1.5 million tourists visit the ruins every year; 90,000 of them find their way to Terrace Houses, which some consider as the gold standard for accessible archeology. Thus, in recent years, the highlight of a visit to celebrated Ephesus has shifted from the theatre and the Library of Celsus to the Terrace Houses. Visitors make Ephesus well-known and lead to a great acceptance of archeology. Visitors, however, place a great strain on the ruins as well, and it is a balancing act to unite goal-oriented research, public relations, and tourist marketing without neglecting any one of the sometimes competing components.

Visiting the ruins of ancient Ephesus might seem disorienting because of the lack of superstructures, but meandering through and reflecting upon the city that was once second only to Rome is a highlight of any trip to Turkey.

 

 


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Ephesus, Turkey: Port Information


Cruise travelers can visit Ephesus on a land tour via the nearby port of Kuşadası, the second busiest port in Turkey after Istanbul. Cruise passengers have two choices: take the Ephesus tours organized by the cruise ship or do the Ephesus tours independently.

Get around Ephesus, Turkey


The grounds of Ephesus are seen entirely on foot. Pathways are signed clearly and easily navigated as you make your way through the park. The ruins are situated on the bank of a hill. There are two entry/exit points. The entire ruins are easily covered on foot within two hours. An entry from the upper gate will make going around much easier, and there are parking lots located at both gates.

 

What to see in Ephesus, Turkey


At the upper Magnesia gate, immediately to one side is the East Gymnasium at the foot of Panayir Mountain. The first monumental work one comes to is the semi-circular Odeion (c. 150 AD), which seats about 1500, with the Varius Baths beside it. Ephesus had a bicameral legislation, the first being the Congress of Councillors, which met here, hence the name "Bouleterion". In front of the Odeion was business council called the Basilica. Beside this was the Municipal Building, the Prytaneion marked with only two of its massive columns. The Prytan's most important function, as the mayor of the city, was to keep alive the flame that had been burning in the building for centuries in the name of the local deity Hestia. The Artemis statues on display in the Ephesus Museum were found in the vault of the Prytaneion.
The area in front of the Odeon was the State Agora (Upper Agora). In the middle was a temple to the Egyptian goddess Isis. In 80 AD Laecanus Bassus erected a fountain in the southwest corner of the Agora. From the agora one proceeds to the Square to Domitian where things like the Pollio and Domitian fountains, the Memmius Monument and the Hercules Gate are clustered together.

The famous Avenue of the Curates leads west from the State Agora to the Trajan Fountain, the façade of the Temple of Hadrian and the Scolasticia Baths. On the front arch of the Temple of Hadrian, the keystone is a bust of the mother goddess Cybele and on a semicircle on top of the center doorway is a relief of the snake-headed Medusa. Immediately beside the Temple are the Bordello and the Latrines.
On the left side of the Curates avenue, protected by a modern roof, are the most significant dwellings thus far excavated (c. 1960), the so-called Terrace Houses. These residences (c. 1C AD) of the wealthy are the most beautiful examples of peristyle houses and, each with its own heating system and bath were as comfortable as houses are today. They all had exquisite frescoed walls and mosaic floors, being painstakingly preserved by an Austrian-Turkish archaeological team. These houses are eminent in archaeological literature and very well-worth seeing. In recent years, the highlight of a visit to celebrated Ephesus has shifted from the Great Theater and the Library of Celsus to these exquisite Terrace Houses.

At the end of the avenue of Curates is that beautiful structure of Roman times, the Celsus Library with its two-story facade. When Ephesus governor Celsus died in 106 AD, his son had the library built as his monument and grave. The sarcophagus is under the west wall of the library. Four female statues represent the qualities of human character: Sophia (wisdom), Arete (goodness), Ennoia (judgement), and Episteme (knowledge). The originals are in Vienna's Ephesus Museum.

One of the most interesting structures in Ephesus is the Temple to Serapis, immediately behind the Library. Beside the Library is the Mazeus Mithridates Gate that leads to the Market Agora (Lower Agora).
Market Agora is the starting point for the Marble Avenue. At the end of the avenue is the largest and best-preserved theatre in the Greco-Roman world, the Great Theatre, with a seating capacity of 24,000. This was the site of a mass riot in which St. Paul's life was threatened by the silversmiths of Ephesus for his preaching against the cult of Artemis (see Acts 19: 21-41). Near the entry to the theatre is a lovely Hellenistic Fountain, one of the oldest structure in Ephesus. The Theatre Gymnasium and Baths across from it were built in the 2nd century AD.

The longest street in Ephesus is the Harbour Avenue (Arcadian Avenue) once lined with statues, and stretching from the Theatre to the presently silted-in harbor. The Four Apostles' Monument was in the middle of the avenue. At the end of the avenue was the Harbour Gymnasium and Baths next to the ancient harbor. In the complex, there stands the Church of Mary, site of the General Church Council of 431 AD. To the right of Harbour Avenue is the lower gate, through which you may exit.

Temple Of Artemis: First you will explore the site and remains of the Temple of Artemis, also known as the Temple of Diana. Once considered one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world, this grand temple was destroyed in the 5th century. See the ruins at the site of this once-great temple, and admire pieces of impressive ancient Greek architecture.
 

What to do in Ephesus, Turkey


Explore fantastic ancient ruins, learn more from history.

What to eat and drink in Ephesus, Turkey


Eat

There are many fast food and small Turkish restaurants at both gates. You can find many nice restaurants on the way to Selcuk or Kusadasi or in the towns.

  • Mehmet & Ali Baba Kebab House Turkish Kebab House located just next to museum serving traditional Turkish foods. They also serve Turkish starters which is vegetarian and famous as Kebabs.

Drink

There are many cafés at both gates.

Shopping in Ephesus, Turkey


There are many souvenir shops at the two exit gates. You may find the Turkish handmade articles. Haggling is possible. The best way is to compare prices in two or three more shops before you buy. It is not a good place to buy carpet and leather, you can buy them in big shops at Selcuk for a reasonable price.

Safety in Ephesus, Turkey


In general, the area is safe. Use your common sense like in any other place of the world.
Bring water and sunscreen since it’s very hot and there’s not a lot of shade. 

Language spoken in Ephesus, Turkey


Turkish language, all major languages (including English, Russian, Japanese and Chinese).

LOCAL TIME

2:01 am
September 18, 2019
Europe/Istanbul

CURRENT WEATHER

16.19 °C / 61.142 °F
sky is clear
Wed

23.67 °C/75 °F
sky is clear
Thu

23.25 °C/74 °F
sky is clear
Fri

25.95 °C/79 °F
sky is clear
Sat

25.25 °C/77 °F
sky is clear

LOCAL CURRENCY

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