Ephesus is a remarkable attraction in Western Turkey near the Aegean Sea. It was an important Attic and Ionian Greek city that prospered into Roman times. Today it has some of the best-preserved ancient ruins of any ancient city in the Mediterranean. But there is much more than just the impressive city of Ephesus.

The attractions to see here include the House of the Virgin Mary, the Basilica of St. John (and adjacent fortress), the ruins of the city of Ephesus, and the remains of the Temple of Artemis - one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

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The Ruins of The City Of Ephesus

Ephesus was once a major city and was one of the 12 cities of the Ionian League, in 129 BC it came under the control of the Roman Republic. In the book of Revelation, it was one of the Seven Churches in Asia that St. John wrote to, plus it is believed that St. John wrote the Gospel of St. John there. St. Paul stayed, preached, was mobbed there. Later he wrote the Epistle to the Ephesians to the church there.

The ruins today are impressive and many of the travel adverts for Turkey and postcards feature the partially reconstructed Library of Celsus. The amphitheater is partially restored and one can hear the remarkable autistics as people leisurely chat with each other across the theater.

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The city was destroyed by the Goths in 263 AD but it was later rebuilt but went into decline afterward as its harbor slowly silted up by the Küçükmenderes River. In 614 it was partially destroyed by an earthquake.

Today it is easily one of Turkey's most popular tourist destinations.

  • Listed: The Ruins Of Ephesus Is Designated A UNESCO World Heritage Site

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The Temple of Artemis

Only around 4 kilometers out of the ruins of Ephesus lays what's left of the Temple of Artemis.

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The Temple of Artemis was dedicated to an ancient and local form of the goddess Artemis and it was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. By 401 AD it had been destroyed or ruined and today only some of the foundations and some fragments remain on the site today.

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Some of the pillar fragments have been stacked into a single towering column. Even this massive column is four meters shorter than the columns would have been. It is not much but enough to give an idea of the size of what the temple once boasted.

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Basilica of St. John

This was once a massive basilica constructed by Justinian I in the 6th century (Justinian I also built the eye-watering Hagia Sophia that really must be visited). St. John had a strong connection with the city of Ephesus and is thought by some to have written the Gospel of John from there.

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According to tradition, he died and was buried there. The Basilica was built over what was believed to be the burial site of John the Apostle.

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Today only ruins of the once impressive Basilica remain, but the ruins themselves are still very impressive. Another apostle, St. Philip, is buried in Heiroplos a few hours drive - his church has also since been destroyed.

House of The Virgin Mary

According to the New Testament (John 19: 26-27), Jesus on the cross told John to take care of his mother, Mary. Tradition has it that Mary followed John the Apostle to Ephesus and lived and died there. Today there is the House of the Virgin Mary (also called Meryemana Evi) over what is thought to be her burial site is a 15-minute drive from the main ruins at Ephesus.

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The small structure is a Catholic shrine and is very small. The shrine is set in a stunning grove filled with olive trees and taller shading trees cooling the air. A modern wind farm can be seen as a backdrop towering on the hills behind the shrine.

The grove is one of peace, serenity, and relaxation. There are a number of teahouses and restaurants at the entrance.

The Catholic Church has never pronounced in favor or against the authenticity of the shrine, the shrine has seen several papal Apostolic Blessings and even visits.

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