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Revision as of 15:33, 28 August 2013 by (talk) (Historical Context)

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Ephesus (Greek: Ἔφεσος Ephesos"; Turkish: Efes) is a large archeological site in Aegean Turkey and one of the country's major tourist attractions[7].

Celsius Library in Ephesus, built 123AD, restored 1970s.


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 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 AD 263, 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 archaeologists 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 archaeological site[8] has developed into one of the most highly frequented achaeological 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 archaeology: 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. Visitors make Ephesus well-known and leads to a great acceptance of archaeology. 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 touristic 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.

Get in

You can walk from Selçuk. Most of the hotels have bikes that you can borrow for a while. It is a 4km walk in a good walking way. It is also possible to take a taxi, which is relatively expensive,compared to other Turkish transportation. Most pensions and hotels in Selçuk offer rides to Ephesus. The cheaper way is to go by minibuses(shared taxi)(Called as Dolmuş in Turkish) which are available every 10-15 minutes from Selcuk central bus station or from Kusadasi Dolmuş stop. The minibus will leave you at around 1km from the gate situated downhill.

--Accession to Selcuk--

By airway to Izmir Adnan Menderes International airport.
By train(from Izmir airport),
By bus (from Izmir central bus station) or Hotel shuttles to Selcuk. Airport to Selçuk, 55 Km.

By cruise ship via the nearby port of Kuşadası, the second busiest port in Turkey after Istanbul. Cruisers have two choices: take the Ephesus tours organized by the cruise ship or do the Ephesus tours independently, as shown by this video[9].

By bus or minibus (from Kusadasi central bus station) goes about every half hour, or by taxi to Selcuk,19 Km. I AM KLOWN GEE JAGGERJACK SON OF SATAN THIS WILL BE MY BATTLE GROUND AGAINST YOUR HOLY FATHER, THE FALSE PROPHET OF UR RELIGION BOW TO ME ND I SHALL SPARE YOUR LIVES


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Get around

Here is a map of Selcuk - Ephesus

The ancient site of Ephesus is seen entirely on foot. Pathways are signed clearly and easily navigated as you make your way through the archaeological site. The ruins are situated on the bank of a hill. There are two entry/exit points about 3 km apart. Toilets are available at each entry gate but now in the general site. The upper Magnesia gate is the better gate to enter, allowing you to walk downhill to and exit at the lower Harbor gate. The entire ruins are easily covered on foot within two hours.

Hours: mid-March to late October, daily, 8:00-19:30; off season, daily 8:00-17:30. Costs: 20 TL for general site entry, plus another 15 TL for the Terrace Houses (sheltered by a modern roof, excavated by an Austrian-Turkish team, open to visitors 2006). 10 TL (+20 TL deposit) to rent an audioguide with 1.5 hours of commentary on the general site, plus 20 minutes on the Terrace Houses. The 20 TL deposit will be refunded when you return the audioguide at the other end of the site.


Temple of Hadrian.

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 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 with its massive columns. The Prytan functioned as the mayor of the city. His most important function was to keep alive the flame that had been burning in the building for centuries. This was done 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 Odeion 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 in the back is a relief of the head of Medusa. Immediately beside the Temple are the Bordello and the Latrines.

Terrace Houses, how the wealthy lived during the Roman period.

On the left side of the Curates avenue, protected by a modern roof, are the most significant dwellings thus far excavated, the so called Terrace Houses[10]. These residences 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 well worth seeing.

At the end of the avenue is that most 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).

Great Theater, seating capacity 24,000.

Market Agora is the starting point for the Marble Avenue. At the end of the avenue is the largest and best preserved theater in the Greco-Roman world, the Great Theater, 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. Near the entry to the theater is a lovely Hellenistic Fountain, one of the oldest structure in Ephesus. The Theater Gymnasium and Baths across from it were built in the 2nd century AD.

The longest street in Ephesus is the Harbor Avenue (Arcadian Avenue) once lined with statues, and stretching from the Theater 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 Harbor 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 Harbor Avenue is the lower gate, through which you may exit.


To find travellers' reviews of a private tour, check e.g., Tripadvisor activities under the city listed in the tour company's address.

  • Best of Ephesus Tours, Turgut Ozal Bulv. Aybuke Sitesi B-Blok D1 09400 Ephesus, [1]. Private tours especially ideal for cruise passengers who come to Kusadasi ( Ephesus ) or Izmir Ports.
  • Ephesus Shuttle Private Tours, Hulya Kocyigit Bul. Green Paradise Sit. A Blok D, Kusadasi,, [2]. Ephesus Shuttle is founded by Fevzi Turhan who is one of the first private shore excursion operator in Turkey Ports ( Kusadasi, Istanbul , Izmir ) since 1992
  • Ephesus Tours, Saglik Caddesi, Oge Sokak No:61 | No 61, Ephesus 09400, [3]. EPHESUS FULL DAY TOUR (Daily departures, start 08:30 end 16:00), morning at the ancient site of Ephesus, lunch at Selcuk, afternoon local culturel aspect of Ephesus by showing handmade Carpet & Rug Art Weawing Teaching-Village and Ceramic Center or Leather Company.
  • Kusadasi Private Ephesus Tours, Ege Mahallesi, Oguzhan Sitesi No : 29, Kusadasi 09400, [4]. licensed local tour guides from Ephesus; specialized in creating Private Ephesus Tours which are customized. Tours are especially ideal for cruise passengers who come to Kusadasi ( Ephesus ) or Izmir Ports
  • No Frills Ephesus Tours, Sen Jean Caddesi 3A, Selcuk (look for the Sea Spirit Travel' sign), [5]. offers half day and full day tours of ancient Ephesus without any side trips to souvenir, carpet, or leather shops.
  • OTTI Travel Private Ephesus Tours, Kitas Adalioglu Sitesi E:2 A:2, Ephesus 09400, [6]. personalized local tour company which is expert over Private Ephesus tours. which run from İzmir and Kusadasi Port. Includes Turkish rug demo.


There are many souvenir shops at the two exit gates. You may find Turkish hand made 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 with a reasonable price.


There are many fast food and small Turkish restaurants at the exit 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.


There are many cafés at the exit gates.


There are no accommodations on site in ancient city itself. Nearest options are in Selçuk, 4 km away. There are also lots of people visiting Ephesus on a day-trip from coastal Kuşadası, a bit further away.

Get Out

You may want to consider a visit to another archaeological site in Aegean Turkey: Aphrodisias. With an entrance fee of only 10 TL, it has perhaps more value than Ephesus.

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