"The Inspiring Roman Ruins of Ephesus" Top 5 Page for this destination Ephesus by nicolaitan
Ephesus Travel Guide: 531 reviews and 2,008 photos
The historic site is on a sloping hillside with one entrance right on the main highway at the bottom of the hill. Better to enter the site from the Magnesia Gate at the top of the hill on the road to the House of Mary and walk downhill. The tips below follow the likely order in the walk through Ephesus.
There are no rest facilities and no sources for food, drink, film, or anything else within the historic area. Before entering, a group of souvenir stands and a restaurant offer the only chance for relief. Plan on spending several hours touring an area with huge crowds and no relief from the elements. Take the opportunity to both fill up and empty out before beginning this great adventure.
One of the greatest highlights of Ephesus are the excavated Terrace Houses. There is a separate entrance fee for these ruins which is worth every penny. The streets are overly crowded with bus tours, yet we were alone for over half an hour visiting the houses with their unique construction and beautiful mosaics in nearly perfect condition.
A recurring theme in the tips will be the remarkable accumulation of artifacts at the Selcuk Museum. A trip to Ephesus is simply incomplete without a vist to this small power-packed museum.
The adjacent image of Nike is believed to have been part of the Hercules gate. Here the Goddess of Victory is holding a laurel wreath.
The archaeologic ruins of Ephesus are considered among the best preserved in the world and are most completely appreciated with an understanding of the complex history of Anatolia in western Turkey. The fortunes of the city have reflected the multiple ruling nations altered by the integrity of the harbor and several severe earthquakes. What we see today are basically Roman ruins set in a large city of Greek planning. Less than 25% of the total city has been excavated.
There have been four cities occupying the estuary of the Cayster (Meander) River, the site today at the third. Legend states that the Amazons, an all-female tribe of warriors, were the first to settle here. In any case, the area was occupied as early as 10000 BC. The city was refounded about 1000 BC by Androclus, a Greek leader fleeing northern invaders, based on the prophecy of an oracle telling him that a fish and a boar would lead him to the site best suited for a new city. Legends state that while cooking fish, one fish fell from the pot and started a fire which roused a sleeping boar. The boar fled, followed by Androclus, who killed it and selected that site for his city.
Over the next several centuries, there were multiple ruling nations, most famously the Lydians whose wealthy king Croesus built the great Temple of Artemis, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The Lydians would fall to the Persians about 100 years later. In 334BC, Alexander the Great conquered Anatolia and after his death one of his great generals, Lysimachos, became the ruler. He moved the city for defensive purposes to a hillside nearby with fortifications, the second Ephesus.
In 281BC, the citizens returned to the original site and laid out the plans for the site we see today. The Romans gained control late in the 2nd C BC when there were stated to be 200000 inhabitants. After a massive earthquake in 17 AD, the harbor was reconstructed and Ephesus entered another golden era. Most of the ruins visible today were constructed during the next several centuries of Roman rule. During this period, Ephesus was not only the most important trading center in Asia but also a center for culture and religious thought. Ephesus was at the junction of the western end of the east west trade route the Silk Road and the eastern end of the Royal Road from Rome. Its harbor exported eastern products to Greece, Rome, and the remainder of the western world. The apostles Paul and John ( and the Virgin Mary ) were drawn here by the relatively free-thinking and prosperous city and began the slow process of displacing the cult of Artemis, a key city in the expansion of Christianity. It would take two centuries till Theodosius banned pagan worship (381 AD ) and endorsed Christianity as the state religion for the Byzantine division of the Roman Empire.
As the years passed, the harbor created by the meandering Cayster River became unusable and the city grew further and further from the Mediterranean now at a distance of 8 km. The low-lying marshland remaining fostered malaria and other diseases and eventually the site was abandoned. The fourth city of Ephesus was created near modern day Selcuk.
Under Arab control beginning in the 7th Century the site of the ruins became covered over and lost to the memory of the local population. During the crusades, there is anecdotal evidence that the inhabitants had no idea of the magnificent history and ruins located just a few miles from their city. Ephesus became just another backwater village without a port until late 19th Century Austrian archaeologists discovered the remains of Temple of Artemis and some years later British workers found the Ephesus site of antiquity. Today, 1.5 million visitors annually trek through the ancient ruins and visit the other attractions in nearby Selcuk.
The individual tips will include a lot more history and even more mythology and legend.
The broad marble thoroughfare from the Great Theater to the former site of the Harbor is usually the last stop for... more travel advice
As one of the greatest seaports of the ancient world, Ephesus was of course a major commercial center. The square agora... more travel advice
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