5 Sites You Must See in Ephesus, Turkey


The most intriguing and inspiring vacations are the ones that bring you back in time to the ancient cities and their people.

Fr. Barron at the Temple of Artemis (Ephesus, Turkey)
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The most intriguing and inspiring vacations are the ones that bring you back in time to the ancient cities and their people. One of these tours should include the ruins of Ephesus in Western Turkey.

A Brief History of Ephesus

In the 1st century, Ephesus was home to a staggering 250,000 people, but its origins are found by excavators to go back as far as 6000 BC. As the largest city in the Mediterranean at that time, it was known for its structures such as the Temple of Artemis (even though it remained uncompleted until approximately 550 BC) and the site of the Gladiator’s Graveyard.

Ephesus was a formidable city, having survived the Cimmerian attacks around 650 BC, the Greco-Persian Wars, and the victory of Alexander the Great.

In the early 1300’s, the city fell under Seljuk rule and flourished for some time, building new structures such as the Turkish bathhouses, and the Isa Bey Mosque. In 1402 BC, the city was restored to the Turkmen Beylicks only to be abandoned within the century.

The Temple of Artemis met its fate at the hands of angry Christian citizens in 401 AD. An earthquake in 614 AD further reduced the city to the ruins we see today.

The Sites

While in Ephesus, you will want to make sure you visit the places it has become most famous for. Here are a few to add to your itinerary.

The Temple of Artemis: One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the ruins you see today are actually those of the “second” Temple of Artemis, which was built right over top the rubble of the first one.

Basilica of St.John: When St. John the Apostle died, he was buried on the South side of the Ayosolug hill. A church was built over his grave-site, which was later developed into a great basilica.

Isa Bey Mosque: Developed by the Seljuks, one may first notice that the Mosque seemed to have been built rather haphazardly, with doors and windows that don’t follow symmetry. This was by design, though it is unclear as to its purpose.

The Seven Sleepers: The tombs of seven young men who were encased in the Northern slopes of Mount Pion have two different stories. The first being that the boys hid away in the cave to avoid persecution and were trapped inside, the second that Roman Emperor Decius had them imprisoned there to die for the crime of being Christian. It is said that the young men appeared alive and during the reign of Theodosius II when the cave was opened by a land owner some 2 centuries later.

Ephesus Museum: There is no better place to learn about the history of Ephesus than at the museum, where artifacts are prominently displayed, and items are carefully preserved to keep the history alive. Rather than having the items displayed in chronological order, you will find that the museum is actually sectioned off into themes such as a gladiator’s section and another dedicated to Artemis.

Ephesus is home to so many interesting sites and stories that it’s difficult to take it all in from one trip. If there’s one thing that can be said about a tour of Ephesus, it’s that there is always something else to see, no matter how many times you’ve visited.

Book your trip to Ephesus, Turkey today!