Ephesus (Turkish Efes) was an ancient Greek city, and
later a major Roman city, near present-day Selçuk. It was
one of the twelve cities of the Ionian League during the
Classical Greek era. In the Roman period, Ephesus had a
population of more than 250,000 in the 1st century BC, which
also made it one of the largest cities in the Mediterranean
world. The best-preserved classical city in the eastern
Mediterranean, Ephesus is the place to get a feel
for what life was like in Roman times.
The city was famed for the Temple of Artemis (completed
around 550 BC), one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient
World. Emperor Constantine I rebuilt much of the city and
erected new public baths. Following the Edict of
Thessalonica from emperor Theodosius I, the temple was
destroyed in 401 AD by a mob led by St. John Chrysostom.
The town was partially destroyed by an earthquake in 614
AD. The city's importance as a commercial centre declined
as the harbour was slowly silted up by the Cayster River (Küçük
Menderes). Ephesus was one of the seven churches of Asia
that are cited in the Book of Revelation. The Gospel of
John may have been written here.
The first serious exploration of this archeological
site occurred from 1863-74 under John T. Wood, an
architect the British Museum commissioned to locate the
ancient Temple of Artemis. He found it through the
fortuitous discovery of an imperial inscription that
showed the route of a sacred procession went from the
temple to the theatre and back again by a different
route. As his funds ran out, Wood located the
foundations of the temple 20 feet below ground level.
After he departed, the British Museum terminated support
for excavations there. In 1895, however, the Austrian
Archaeological Institute (Vienna) began the systematic
exploration of Ephesus that has continued unto this
day. So far just 12% of Ephesus has been excavated: the
remainder is still under the earth, waiting to be
explored. The majority of the sites which are visited
today, are the civil buildings. In recent years
visitors have also been able to visit an on going
excavation site named the Terrace Houses.
If your interest in ancient ruins is slight, half a
day may suffice, but real buffs will want to make a day
Note that only Turkish lira are accepted for the
admission fee. An exchange office operates
opposite the ticket office if you need to change money.
The majority of the visitors enter the site from the
upper gate and walk down the hill, exiting the site from
the lower gate. Note that there is an extra charge
to visit the Terrace Houses - and you should allow an
extra hour for this.
Ephesus is a very popular excursion from Turunç -
often combined with a visit to
Pamukkale in a two-day trip with an overnight stop
in the area. All our featured
Travel & Tour agencies offer this combination and
such a 'package' will take care of all practicalities
such as transport, accommodation, guides, etc.
However, it is also very feasible to organise this
independently with just a little forward planning.
Treat this as a once in-a-lifetime experience - and
invest accordingly! Buy (or borrow) - and read
- an illustrated guide before you come: it will really
enhance the experience. Better still, hire one of the
Ephesus guides that hang around the ticket barriers.
Between them, they speak six European languages and can
really enrich your visit. Avoid the audio guides -
they are a no substitute for the real thing
To avoid the heat of the day, come early in the morning
or in the late afternoon, when it’s less crowded. Bring
water with you as drinks at the site are expensive.
If you are travelling independently, many hotels in
nearby Selcuk offer a shuttle-service which will drop
you at the top gate and collect you from the lower.