A former Greek town, later conquered by Romans, Ephesus gained its famous name in history due to being home to the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It is probably the best preserved Roman Mediterranean city in Turkey. The ancient ruins can be visited and they attract millions of tourists each year.
Ephesus was a Greek city, later a Roman city, located near present-day Selçuk, Izmir Province in Turkey. Today’s archeological site is located 3 km from the town of Selçuk.
How to get to
You can easily walk to the archeological site from Selçuk. It’s a 4km walk on good asphalt road (but do make sure to pack good walking shoes and don’t forget the sunscreen and water).
The cheapest way to get to Ephesus from Selçuk is my minibus (called Dolmus). They leave every 10-15 min from the city’s bus station. You can catch a minibus from Kusadasi, as well.
The closest airport to Ephesus is İzmir Adnan Menderes International Airport (ADB). The distance from the airport to Ephesus is about 60 km and there is a slow train connecting the two points. You can also rent a car . The airport is hub for IZair, SunExpress and Onur Air. It receives both domestic and international flights.
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The closest port to Ephesus is Kusadasi, which is connected by ferries to the Greek island of Samos. You can also get to Kusadasi by bus from pretty much anywhere in Turkey.
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Where to stay
Of course, there is no accommodation within the ancient site. The closest available accommodation is in Selçuk. You can also stay in Kusadasi, located a bit further. Another option is the beautiful hill town of Şirince.
What to do
The entrance fee is 20 Turkish Lira and the site can only be tackled on foot. The pathways are clearly marked and you can cover the entire area in about 2 hours.
Back in its glorious days, Ephesus was known for the Temple of Artemis, which was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The temple was destroyed in 401AD but Constantine I rebuilt much of the city. And also added new public baths. But in 614AD the city was, again, partially destroyed, this time by an earthquake.
Ephesus was one of the seven churches of Asia that are listed in the Book of Revelation. Some say that the Gospel of John may have actually been written here.
The ruins you can still visit today are:
- Temple of Artemis – only one column survived the years
- Basilica of St. John – built on the traditional tomb of St. John
- Cave of the Seven Sleepers – believed to be mentioned in the Quran
- Church of Mary – possibly the first church in the world dedicated to Virgin Mary
- House of the Virgin – believed to be the place where Virgin Mary lived her last years
- Isabey Mosque – comprises columns and stones recycled from the Temple of Artemis
- Library of Celsus
- Prytaneion – the sacred fire of Hestia was tended inside the building
- Temple of Hadrian
- Great Theater – the possible site where Paul preached to the pagans; it is still intact and used today
- The small theatre (Odeon)
- Curetes Street – one of the main city streets, once lined up with inns and shops
- Slope Houses
- The latrines
- The agora
- Arcadiana – the city which leads from the Great Theatre to the port
Ephesus Museum is located close to the Basilica and comprises religious sculptures and other artifacts from the archeological site.
Trivia: Did you know that Ephesus was also the site of a large gladiators’ graveyard?