During one of our many road trips in Turkey, we spent a sweltering day in August 2011 stumbling around the historic ruins of Ephesus, located along the Aegean coast in the Izmir province.
On this particular trip, we also stopped at Foça, Kuşadası and Cunda Adası. The reason why I bring up this trip now is because just earlier this week Ephesus was finally named to the World Heritage List of the United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO). Ephesus, which receives around 2 million visitors per year, is the 15th property in Turkey to become a UNESCO heritage site.
Ephesus, originally built in 10th century BC, has a lengthy history, but really flourished after it came under control of the Romans in 129 BC. During the reign of Roman Emperor Augustus from 27 BC to 14 AD, the city became a great port for trade and was wealthy. The city also played significant roles during early Christianity when Saint Paul visited and later Virgin Mary settled down at nearby Mt. Koressos in approximately 42 AD. You can even visit the House of the Virgin Mary, which is 7 km from the city of Selçuk.
|The enormous baptismal font in the ruins of the Church of St. Mary in Ephesus.|
Library of Celsus
One of the most spectacular sites to see in Ephesus is the Library of Celsus, which was built in honor of Roman Senator Tiberius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus and finished in 135 AD after his death. The library was built as a mausoleum for Celsus and to store 12,000 written scrolls. The library suffered at least two fires and an earthquake during its history and was restored by archaeologists in the 1970s and 1980s.
The city’s long, cobblestoned road eventually leads you to the marble-columned library as well as the Great Theater, which could seat up to 25,000 spectators at one time.
Temple of Hadrian
Another amazing structure is the Temple of Hadrian located along Curetes Street in Ephesus. Hadrian was a Roman emperor from 117-138 AD. The city dedicated the temple in honor of the Emperor’s visit shortly after his reign. The four Corinthian columns support a curved arch on the temple’s façade depicting the arch goddess Tyche, protectress of the city.
Ephesus is simply an amazing (and popular) site to visit in Turkey, and now it has the highly prized UNESCO designation as well. We simply wandered around this historical city by ourselves, but you can hire a local guide too.
Definitely bring some water bottles to help handle the blazing summer heat! And most importantly, enjoy your visit!
While we lived in Turkey, we were able to see 11 out of the 15 UNESCO historical sites including: Göreme National Park and Cappadocia, Hierapolis-Pamukkale, Selimiye Mosque in Edirne, the ruins of Pergamon, the Neolithic Site of Çatalhöyük, Mount Nemrut, the historic areas in Istanbul, the cities of Bursa and Safranbolu and the archaeological site of Troy.