Updated: 28 January 2014 Created: 28 January 2014
Ephesus mapEphesus is a huge archaeological site in the Aegean, Turkey and is one of the country’s largest tourist attractions.

Where is Ephesus?
The original site of Ephesus was more than likely built on the Aegean coast directly on the seashore which today lies about 8km from the actual archaeological site. It is close to the town of Selcuk and about one hour’s drive from the south side of Izmir. Kusadasi is the largest nearby town being approximately 20km from Ephesus.

History of Ephesus
The ancient Greek city known as Ephesus was famous for its Temple of Artemis which is located close to Selcuk, and was recognised as one of the original Seven Wonders of the World. Ephesus became a Roman city in 133BC after a period of conquest and re-conquest.

Augustus declared Ephesus as the capital of Asia Minor in 27BC, and it was this declaration that saw the population of this seaport city grow dramatically. The annual festival of Artemis became a month long festival that took place in the spring and drew thousands of people from all across the empire. 

EphesusEphesus also attracted the Greek and Jewish Christian settlers which included St Paul who it is said resided in Ephesus for approximately three years in the AD50s. Ephesus peaked during the first and second century AD and it was the second most important Roman city with Rome being number one.

Although there were several dredging and rebuilding efforts the harbour of Ephesus continuously silted up, swaps developed and the seaport eventually demolished, this led to the Artemis cult to diminished and fall away. Ephesus was then forgotten until about 1860 when archaeologists from Germany, Austria and Great Britain rediscovered the site, and although to date only 15% has been unearthed it still remains the biggest excavated area in the world. The archaeological site in Ephesus is one of the most frequented not only because of its excellent state of preservation but also the way in which the monuments are presented to the visitors.  

In 2010 there was an average of 1.5 million visitors to the ruins at Ephesus with a reported 90,000 making their way to the Temple Houses. The Temple Houses are considered to be top grade in regards to accessibility for the archaeologists and with the strain that is put on the ruins by the visitors it can be difficult for marketing to strike a balance between tourist and research.

Getting to Ephesus
There are endless trips available from across Turkey to Ephesus, but if you are staying in Selcuk then it is possible to walk the 4km to Ephesus. The nearby hotels will offer transport but the cheapest way other than by foot is to take the Dolmus.

The entire site of Ephesus is only visible on foot. The pathways are clearly marked and easily navigated. The ruins lie on the bank of a hill and there are two entry/exit points standing about 3km apart. The upper Magnesia gate is the best route for entry as the route is then all downhill and the exit would be by the harbour gate. The ruins of Ephesus can all be covered on foot within two hours.

Mary's House EphesusWhat to see in Ephesus
There are so many things to see in Ephesus but make sure to visit the places that made it so famous. Possibly the most important is the Temple of Artemis, one of original Seven Wonders of the World. Basilica of St John, this is the site where St John the apostle was buried on the Ayosolug hill. Isa Bey Mosque, developed by the Seljuks and has an unsymmetrical construction, this was how it was designed however its purpose is unclear to date. The Seven Sleepers these are the tombs of seven men trapped in the Northern slopes of Mount Pion, and there are two different stories behind this monument. The first is that the boys hid in the cave to avoid prosecution and were trapped and the second was that the Roman Emperor Decius who had imprisoned them there to die because they were Christian.

Finally the Ephesus Museum is a must visit to learn the history of Ephesus. The museum is sectioned into themes, and the artefacts’ are extremely well preserved.

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