This enclosure for archaeological remains at Ephesuselegantly reconciles historic conservation with accessibility for visitors. The site of a succession of great ancient civilizations, Ephesus, on the south-west coast of modern Turkey, embodied a peculiarly fertile synthesis of architecture and culture. In 356BC the Greeks built the Artemesium (a colossal Ionic temple dedicated to Artemis the fertility goddess) which was one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. During the 2nd century BC, Ephesus was the fourth largest city in the eastern Roman Empire, famous for its Artemesium, the Library of Celsus and its medical school.
Quoted from Catherine Slessor’s Housing History.

Ephesus; Ancient Greek city of Asia Minor, near the mouth of the Menderes River, in what is today West Turkey, South of Smyrna (now Izmir). One of the greatest of the Ionian cities, it became the leading seaport of the region. Its wealth was proverbial. The Greek city was near an old center of worship of a native nature goddess, who was equated with the Greek Artemis, and c.550 B.C. a large temple was built. To this Croesus, who captured the city, contributed.

When Lydians attacked their cities, Ephesians defended themselves by tying a rope from The Temple of Artemis.But it was not a good way to defend a city. Croesus of Lydia captured it easily however he did not destroy. The city reached the “Golden Age” and became a good model to the Antic World in culture and art, as well. Building of the Artemission was going on.Croesus had a great respect to Artemis and he donated 36 columns with sculptures in relief. Some parts of these sculptures are in the British Museum today.

From Lydian control Ephesus passed to the Persian Empire. The temple was burned down in the 4th cent. B.C., but rebuilding was begun before Alexander the Great took Ephesus in 334. The city continued to thrive during the wars of his successors, and after it passed (133) to the Romans it kept its hegemony and was the leading city of the province of Asia. The great temple of Artemis, or Artemis, called by the Romans the temple of Diana, was considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World. From c.100 B.C. to c. A.D. 100 Ephesus was the world capital of the slave trade.

The city was sacked by the Goths in A.D. 262, and the temple was destroyed. The seat of a church council in 431, Ephesus was abandoned after the harbor silted up. Excavations (1869-74) of the ruins of the temple brought to light many artifacts. Later excavations uncovered important Roman and Byzantine remains.
Quoted from The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001.

In a Christian version of a widespread story, martyrs immured in a cave near Ephesus during the persecutions by Decius (c.250). Long afterward, in the 5th cent., they awoke (as from sleep) and were taken before Theodosius II, Roman emperor of the east. Their story reassured the emperor, who had been wavering in his faith. The youths returned to their cave, to sleep again until Judgment. The story, thought to be of Syrian origin, was popularized by Gregory of Tours. Feast: July 27.
Quoted from The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001.

The temple of Artemis is known as one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. It has been built in the areas of Ephesus on a flat area which has over the centuries turned into a swamp. If you visit Ephesus today, you can only see the ruins of the foundations of this marvelous construction of the Hellenistic Age, entirely made of marble and full of sculptured columns’ capitals and shafts. The most beautiful remaining of this temple are today exhibited in the London British Museum.

The oldest remaining found date back till the 6th century BC. It was surrounded by 36 huge columns, later enlarged upon the orders of the Lydia King, Kreisos, during the 6th century BC. Most of the exhibits in the London British Museum belong to this period.

The new Artemis has been rebuilt in the 2nd century BC. Located on top of the previous one, it had tremendous dimensions: 127 columns of each 17,5 meters high. Unfortunately this one has also been destroyed by fire, reconstructed and again demolished by earthquakes, rebuilt and at last looted by Goths one year later.

The statue of many-breasted Artemis was the symbol of the temple but also of abundance, hunting and wild life. The genuine statue of Artemis, removed during the fire, is today exhibited in the Selcuk Museum. Many copies of this statue found during the latest excavations date back from the Roman period.

Mythological Info

Artemis was also called Cynthia, from her birth place, Mount Cynthus in Delos. She was Apollo’s twin sister, daughter of Zeus and Leto. She was one of the three maiden goddesses of Olympus: the pure maiden Vesta, gray-eyed Athena who cares but for war and the arts of the craftsmen, and Artemis, lover of woods and the wild chase over the mountain.
She was the Lady of Wild Things, Huntsman-in-chief to the gods, an odd office for a woman. As a huntress her favorite animal was the stag, because its swiftness gave the best opportunity for her method of capture, which was by her silver bow and arrows and speed of foot.

As Phoebus was the Sun, she was the Moon called Phoebe and Selene (Luna) representing the evening and night, carrying a torch, and clad in long heavy robes, with a veil covering the back of her head. Neither name originally belonged to her.

Phoebe was a Titan, one of the older gods. So too was Selene, a moon-goddess, indeed, but not connected with Apollo. She was the sister of Helios, the sun-god with whom Apollo was confused.

She was worshipped in Athens, Corinth, and Thebes as goddess of strict upbringing, of good fame, of upright mind, and of sensibility in the affairs of ordinary life. She chased and fired her arrows at all wild and unchecked creatures and actions.

In the later poets, Artemis is identified with Hecate. She is “the goddess with three forms”, Selene in the sky, Artemis on earth, Hecate in the lower world and in the world above when it is wrapped in darkness. Hecate was the Goddess of the dark of the Moon, the black nights when the moon is hidden. She was associated with deeds of darkness, the Goddess of the Crossways, which were held to be ghostly places of evil magic.

Footnotes:
At Ephesus, where her great temple was one of the seven wonders of the world, Artemis was represented with a mural crown, with a disc behind the crown; on her breast, a garland of flowers, as a sign of her influence in spring time. Lions cling to her arms; as mother of wild beasts, she has many breasts; her legs are closely bandaged and ornamented with figures of bulls, stags, lions, and griffins; at the sides are flowers and bees. This figures may have resembled the original image of the goddess which had fallen from heaven.

Selene, (Luna) is represented as riding on a mule or a horse; on the pediment of the Parthenon it is a horse.

It is believed that the evangelist St. John had spent his last years in the region around Ephesus and buried in the southern slope of Ayosolug Hill. Three hundred years after the death of St. John, a small chapel was constructed over the grave in the 4th century. Thechurch of St John was changed into a marvelous basilica during the region of Emperor Justinian (527 -565 AD).

St John or the Apostle John was the writer of the Fourth Gospel and the book of Revelation. The accounts of the Gospels agree that he is the son of Zebedee; together with his brother James, began to follow Jesus while fishing in the Lake Galilee. He became one of the Christ’s closest disciples and was with him on various significant events such as the Transfiguration and theCrucifixion. At his writings when Jesus was on his torture stake he said that : ‘Mother, this is your Son’. And to his beloved disciple, ‘this is Your Mother’(John 19:26-27).The beloved disciple is thought to have been St John.

The second half of the first century was full of persecution for the early Christians.Apostle James and Stephen were killed in Jerusalem.Paul was sent to Rome and executed. According to tradition John took The Mother Mary and came to Ephesus.He wrote his Gospel in Ephesus and the Revelation in Greece Island, Patmos in 96AD.  

The monumental basilica was in the shape of a cross and was covered with six domes. Its construction, being of stone and brick, is an extremely rare find amongst the architecture of its time. Raised by two steps and covered with marble, the tomb of St John was under the central dome, that was once carried by the four columns at the corners. The columns in the courtyard reveals the monograms of Emperor Justinian and his wife Theodora. Constructed in the 5th century AD, the baptistery is north of the nave, with its key hole shape. Rampart walls around the church were constructed for protection from the Arabian attracts in the 7th – 8th centuries AD. The impressive 10th century AD frescoes representing St John, Jesus and a Saint, ornament the chapel. With the invasion of Turks, the chapel was used as a mosque in the 14th century; unfortunately Basilica of Saint Johnbecame unusable due to the serious earthquake in the same century.

Isa Bey Mosque is one of the most delicate examples of Seljukian architecture, situated below the basilica of Saint John. The mosque was built by the master Syrian architecture Ali son of Mushimish al -Damishki, between the years of 1374 and 1375.

The mosque was styled asymmetrically unlike the traditional style, The location of the windows , doors and domes were not matched, purposely. In the entrance of the mosque, an inscription from the god decorates the doorway. The columns inside the house of prayer are from earlier ruins in Ephesus, making an interesting contrast to the mosque . The domes are ornamented by turquoise and blue faience, revealing the characteristic of Ottoman style. Crown-like doors from Seljukian architectural style later combine with the specific decoration elements of architectural style. The mosque was repaired in 1934.

The mystical atmosphere of “Isa Bey Mosque” must be experienced in the excursion around this region.

This pretty old Orthodox village, 12 km away fromEphesus and 30 km from Kusadasi, was once Cirkince (“ugly”). Indeed its habitants gave this name on purpose as they did not want to be bothered by foreigners nor to share the beauty of their village.

Still after years, visitors understood that the village was not ugly at all and called it Sirince (“pretty”). As the village is located on the top of a mountain, anyone will enjoy the impressive wine yards’ and peach trees’ views on his way.

Today the village is a perfect synthesis of Turk-Greek culture as of the 1920’s: after the Independence War, people exchange between Greek and Turks has occurred and all those typical Greek houses, though they kept their original outside characteristics, have received the local layout inside. The most beautiful specimens are open to visitors. And even in the courtyard of one of them, one will discover a nicely restorated Orthodox church.

All the narrow streets of the village belong to the women, selling handcrafts of all kinds, olive oil. Another attraction of Sirince is its wine: try its taste in small cafés or in the former municipal school restorated.

Though Sirince Village is developing its tourism very quickly, it has been able to preserve its authenticity and the meaning of its name.

Located on the northern slopes of Mount Pion, near Ephesus, The Grotto of Seven Sleepers has been discovered by both Christians and Moslems with a growing interest. According to the Christian legend seven young men were walled in during the reign of Decius (250) and yet were seen alive in the streets of Ephesus during the reign of Theodosius II some years after the Council of Ephesus (431). In the Koran, it is claimed that the sleepers slept 309 years in their tombs. A church has been built above this Grotto by the Christians.

During excavations in the area, the church and several tombs have been brought to daylight. Some inscriptions of Seven Sleepers have been noticed on the walls of the church.

The Hellenistic city wall, erected under King Lysimachus and at least 9 kilometers long, was built in 3C BC. Today more than 3 kilometers of it is extremely well preserved on the Bulbuldag and can be seen on the way to the House of Mother Mary.

There were three entrances to the city; The Magnesian Gate (on the road the house of Mother Mary), the Koressos Gate (at the back of the Stadium) and the harbor. Strabon, one of the famous writers in antiquity, wrote that the city wall was 2,5-3 meters thick and fortified by watch towers.

There is an important, well-preserved tower which was called as St Paul’s prison near the ancient harbor on the hill. According to the Bible, Paul went to Ephesus in his third missionary journey. In Ephesus Paul found followers of John the Baptist and baptized them in the name of Lord Jesus Christ. He laid his hands on them and the Holy Spirit came on them and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.

Paul preached in the synagogue for three months, but when some hardened unbelievers spoke evil before the multitude, he separated the disciples from them and chose another place to teach daily. He continued this for two years, so that all Jews and Greeks in this Roman province of Asia (part of Asia Minor) heard the gospel of Christ. God did special miracles in Ephesus through Paul, as even the garments worn by him healed the sick and the demon-possessed.

Many believed in Ephesus and many who practiced magic before brought their books together and burned them publicly. As many pagans turned to Christianity in Ephesus, formerly a center of pagan Artemis worship, craftsmen and silversmiths, who manufactured idols and shrines, saw their profit diminishing. These craftsmen stirred up the pagans against Paul and his companions. Sales soon began to decline and one, Demetrius, a leader of the silversmiths, led a group of artisans against Paul saying ” Men, YOU well know that from this business we have our prosperity.

Also, YOU behold and hear how not only in Ephesus but in nearly all the [district of] Asia this Paul has persuaded a considerable crowd and turned them to another opinion, saying that the ones that are made by hands are not gods. Moreover, the danger exists not only that this occupation of ours will come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be esteemed as nothing and even her magnificence which the whole [district of] Asia and the inhabited earth worships is about to be brought down to nothing”.

His speech caused an uproar and the band of silversmiths, and likely a number of merchants worried about the decline in business, rushed into the theatre shouting “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians”. Paul was not forced to leave the city by the authorities after this riot, but he evidently decided it was better to do so and set off for Macedonia. But it is believed he stayed in this tower before sending to Rome to be judged.

Ephesus Archaeological Museum is located in Selcuk, which is 70km away from Izmir, where Ephesus ancient city is found.

In Ephesus, the works of art  dug up between 1867-1905 were transported to the British Museum ; those from 1905-1923 taken to Vienna. Then Turkish Republic forbade taking antiques out of the country and founded a museum in Selçuk near Ephesus.Its present form was given in 1983.

The Ephesus Museum is different from other many museums.It is not designed according to chronological order on the contrary it has rooms with a theme.For example the rooms are called as The House Findings Room, The Hall of The Fountain Relics, The Hall of The Funerary Relics, The Hall of Artemis, The Gladiators Section, …etc.

If you are interested in the works of art and history, we recommend you to see this museum strongly.

House of Virgin Mary is located on the top of the “Bulbul” mountain 9 km ahead of Ephesus, the shrine of Virgin Mary enjoys a marvelous atmosphere hidden in the green. It is the place where Mary may have spent her last days. Indeed, she may have come in the area together with Saint John, who spent several years in the area to spread Christianity. Mary preferred this remote place rather than living in crowded place.

The house of Virgin Mary is a typical Roman architectural example, entirely made of stones. In the 4th century AD, a church, combining her house and grave, has been built. The original two-stored house, which consisted of an anteroom (where today candles are proposed), bedroom and praying room (Christian church area) and a room with fireplace (chapel for Muslims). A front kitchen fell into ruins and has been restored in 1940’s. Today, only the central part and a room on the right of the altar are open to visitors. From there one can understand that this building looks more like a church than a house. Another interesting place is the “Water of Mary”, a source to be found at the exit of the church area and where a rather salt water, with curative properties, can be drunk by all.

Paul VI was the first pope to visit this place in the 1960’s. Later, in the 1980’s, during his visit, Pope John-Paul II declared the Shrine of Virgin Mary has a pilgrimage place for Christians. It is also visited by Muslims who recognize Mary as the mother of one of their prophets. Every year, on August 15th a ceremony is organized to commemorate Mary’s Assumption.