The ancient city of Ephesus, located near the Aegean Sea in modern Turkey, was a magnificent city of the Greeks in Asia Minor and home to the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Today, the ruins of Ephesus are a major attraction to travelers from all over the world, especially for travelers on Mediterranean cruises.
It is also the sacred site for Christians due to its association with St Paul, the Virgin Mary and St John.
Ephesus is a well preserved classical city in the eastern Mediterranean and it is the place to get a feel for what life was like in the Roman times.
Ancient Ephesus was a powerful trading city and a center for the cult of Cybele, the Anatolian fertility goddess.
Ancient Library of Celsus in Ephesus
The remnants of the city, the marble paved streets, mosaic-covered sidewalks, and private hill homes, stand proof for its position as a top trading center.
A Little Bit of History
Roman Theater in Ephesus
A legendary tale states that Androclus, son of King Codrus of Athens, consulted an oracle about where to find a settlement in Ionia. The oracle answered: Choose the site indicated by the fish and boar.
Androclus and a few fishermen sat down to grill some fish for lunch, near the mouth of Cayster River and Mount Pion.
One of the fish leapt out of the brazier, taking with it a hot coal, which ignited some shavings, which in turn ignited the nearby bush.
A wild boar hiding in the bush ran out in alarm and the spot at which it was killed became the site of Ephesus Temple of Artemis.
The first settlement was built on the northern slopes of the hill and it became prosperous by 600 BC. The sanctuary of Artemis had been a pilgrimage place since 800 BC.
The prosperity of Ephesus attracted many, such as King Croesus of Lydia, Persians and Athenians. The Artemis Temple was destroyed by Herostratus in 356 BC.
The Ephesians built a grand new temple, which became one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
The Gate of Augustus, Ephesus
Alexander the Great captured this region in 334 BC, and after his death, Ionia came under the control of Lysimachus, one of his generals.
As the harbor silted up, Lysimachus wanted to move the city westwards, but the Ephesians refused to budge.
In order to move them out of that place, Lysimachus blocked the sewers of the old city during a downpour, which caused a major flooding.
Reluctantly the Ephesians moved to the western side of Mount Pion, where the Roman city remains. A 10 km/6.2 miles long defensive wall was built around the new city.
The city then allied with several rulers like the Seleucid kings of Syria, Ptolemies of Egypt, King Antiochus, Eumenes of Pergamum and finally the Romans.
Due to its bustling sea traffic, rich commerce and right of sanctuary in the Temple of Artemis, Roman Ephesus was made the capital of Asia Minor.
Its population grew rapidly and successive emperors beautified the city, which drew immigrants from all around the empire.
Although Attalus II of Pergamum rebuilt the harbor, it continued to silt up. Emperor Hadrian tried to divert the Cayster, but eventually the sea was forced back to Pamucak.
It marked the decline of Ephesus, but still the Third Ecumenical Council was held here in 431 AD.
Despite the fame of the cult of Diana, Ephesus soon acquired a sizable Christian congregation. It is supposed that St John settled here with Virgin Mary. St Paul lived in the city for three years, probably in the 60s AD.
Things to See
- Temple of Artemis
- Temple of Hadrian
- Basilica of St John
- Church of Mary
- Isabey Mosque
- Curetes Street
- House of the Virgin
- Grotto of St Paul
- Cave of the Seven Sleepers
Where is Ephesus?
- 2 miles/ 3.3 km from Selcuk, Turkey
- 51.2 miles/ 82.5 km from Izmir, Turkey
- 247.3 miles/ 398 km from Antalya, Turkey
- 106.2 miles/ 171 km from Bodrum, Turkey
- 106.2 miles/ 161 km from Cesme, Turkey
- 39.8 miles/ 64.1 km from Izmir Adnan Menderes Airport, Turkey
Ephesus is the best preserved classical city of the Eastern Mediterranean, and among the most unique archaeological attractions in the world.
It enables you to travel back in time and soak in the atmosphere of Roman times.
We wish you a fantastic Mediterranean cruise!