Ephesus boasts some of the best-preserved ancient Greek ruins and is home to one of the Seven Wonders Of The Ancient World. It also has rich Biblical history having been visited by the Apostle Paul and the Apostle John. The name is ultimately derived from the ancient Hittite.

Today Ephesus is located is in Turkey near the Turkish city of Izmir (this region of Turkey remained Greek up until 100 years ago). Not so far way up the coast in Turkey is the mythical city of Troy. One can visit Troy and even see the Trojan horse used in the 2003 Brad Pitt Movie Troy.

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History Of Ephesus And Why It Is Famous

According to legend, Ephesus was founded by a tribe of the Amazons (the great female warriors). Disappointingly, the Amazons properly never existed as the famed female warrior tribe. They were probably a myth that grew out of contact with the Greek world and the Scythians (the Greeks were bewildered by the "uncivilized' nomadic Scythians and by seeing women riding on horses - unlike Greek women).

  • Myth: Founded by The Amazons

The city of Ephesus was built in the 10th century BC on the site of the old Arzawan capital by Attic and Ionian Greek colonists. It was one of the twelve cities in the Ionian League and the site of one of the churches that the Apostle wrote to in the Book Of Revelation. In 129 BC the city came under the control of the expanding Roman Republic.

  • Christianity: It Was An Important City In Early Christianity

The city is famous today for the iconic Temple of Artemis located nearby. The Temple of Artemis was completed around 550 BC and was designated as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

  • Abandoned: After The Harbor Silted Up

The city was destroyed by the Goths in 263 AD but was rebuilt afterward. It only lost its importance as a commercial center after the harbor slowly silted up. And then in 614 AD, it was partly destroyed by an earthquake. When the Seljuk Turks occupied the city in 1090, it was just a small village.

Related: Cappadocia, Turkey: Why You Should Be Booking A Hot Air Balloon Tour (And How To Do It)

Temple of Artemis

In the Bible (depending on the translation), the goddess is referred to as "Diana of the Ephesians" and today the Temple of Artemis or Diana is one of the greatest archeological attractions of the greater Greek world. The temple was completely rebuilt twice (once having been destroyed by a flood and again because of an act of arson 300 years later).

  • Diana: Diana Was The Roman Goddess that The Greek Goddess Artemis Was Associated With
  • Designed: One Of The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

In its third form, it was known as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. By around 401 AD the temple had been abandoned and was in ruins or destroyed. Today while still impressive, only the foundations and fragments of the temple remain.

The Apostles Paul & John And Early Christianity

From AD 52 to 54 the Apostle Paul lived in Ephesus and this was the beginning of Ephesus' role as an important center in Early Christianity. According to the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, Paul attended the Jewish synagogue there but after three months he grew frustrated.

  • Paul: Lived There From 52 to 54 AD

Paul went on to work to develop the early Christain church there, it triggered a riot in a major backlash. A silversmith named Demetrios grew worried about the loss of trade with people converting to Christianity and not buying his idols of Diana (or Artemis). Feeling it endangered his livelihood he stirred up the mob against Paul.

  • Revelation: One Of The Seven Churches In Revelation

Later Paul may have written the letter 1 Corinthians from Ephesus and later he wrote the Epistle to the Ephesians from Rome while he was imprisoned there (around 62 AD). Later still the Gospel of John may have been written in Ephesus but regardless, John mentioned it in his Book of Revelation as one of the seven churches - underlining how strong the early Christian church was in Ephesus.

Related: Gobekli Tepe: 15 Things About The Archaeological Site In Turkey (That Remain Unexplained)

Visiting Ephesus Today

Ephesus was once the trade center of the ancient world and today it is one of the most important tourist destinations in Turkey.

There are numerous guided tours that can be taken of Ephesus, and many are affordable. According to Ephesus' Website some of the tours are:

Ephesus Full Day Tour:

  • Discover: Ephesus Ancient City, The House of Virgin Mary, The Church of Saint John, Temple of Artemis
  • From: $48.95 Per Person

Ephesus And Artemis Tour:

  • Discover: Ephesus Ancient City, Temple of Artemis
  • From: $30.95 Per Person

Ephesus From Izmir Tours:

  • Discover: Ephesus Ancient City, The Temple of Artemis, and the House of Virgin Mary
  • Duration: Full Day
  • From: $58.95 Per Person

Ephesus From Istanbul Tours:

  • Discover: Ephesus Ancient City, The Temple of Artemis, and the House of Virgin Mary
  • Duration: Full Day
  • From: $168.95 Per Person

The oldest site in Turkey is Göbekli Tepe and is so old, it makes the Great Pyramids of Giza look young.

Next: 10 Facts About Chichen Itza, One Of The 7 Wonders Of The World