General Information

Ephesus, the most recognizable ancient ruins in Turkey, played many important roles in history from the Hellenistic era to early Christianity. Saint Paul lived there for three years. John the Apostle moved there after Jesus Christ’s ascension. It is also believed, from Biblical accounts, that Virgin Mary, who was accompanied by John, had also lived her last years before ascension at a small house near Ephesus.

Culture and History

The city was very important economically, commercially, politically and strategically during early Greek period. It was the port capital of Asia Minor, with at one point a population reaching 200,000 people. The famous Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, was built in the outskirts of Ephesus. With its library and accompanying academic institutions, many great philosophers such as Heraclitus flocked to the city. The fall of Ephesus to the Persians is said to be one of the biggest motivators for Alexander the Great to launch his campaign against the Persian Empire. The city was also home to Hannibal after his exile from Carthage under the pressure of the Roman Republic of the time.

The city afterwards went under Roman rule, during which it thrived even further. However, in 263 AD, it was sacked by the Goths, where its most revered structure, the Temple of Artemis, was destroyed. During the Byzantine times, the city continued its decline, as the river Kucuk Menderes slowly silted up the harbor. With no connection to the Aegean sea, the city died towards the end of the 10th Century, where it was just a village when the Seljuk Turks arrived. Today, the harbor is 5 km inland from the shore.

Notable are the Temple of Hadrian, the nymphaeum, Trajan Fountain, the latrines, the Gate of Hercules, Domitian Square, the state agora, the city hall, the Odeon, the various baths and spas, and the third largest library of the classical era, the Celsus Library. Finally, of course, the great Ephesus theater, with its 24,000 seats.