Ephesus Tourist Attractions
West coast (Aegean Sea)Town: SelçukSituation and ImportanceThe remains of the ancient Greek city of Ephesus (Greek Ephesos, Turkish Efes), one of the outstanding classical sites and tourist attractions in Turkey, lie near Selçuk about 75km/47mi south of Izmir.
Like Miletus, ancient Ephesus lay directly on the sea, and had an important harbor, the main source of its wealth. However, the Little Maeander (Küçuk Menderes), the ancient Kaystros, sediment laden and frequently changing its course, pushed the coastline ever farther away, while the marine currents off the bay built up a spit of land, behind which the ground degenerated into marsh. By Roman times only a tongue-shaped harbor basin could be kept open for shipping. Ephesus was deserted and gradually disappeared under the silt brought down by the river. Any structures remaining above ground were either used as a quarry for building material or burned to provide lime. Investigation of the site began only in the second half of the 19th century when a British engineer, J. T. Wood, rediscovered and excavated the Artemiseion. The work was then continued between 1896 and 1913 by the Austrian Archeological Institute. Between 1919 and 1922 Greek archeologists investigated the site of the basilica of St John.HistoryThe earliest inhabitants of this region, the Carians and Lydians, no doubt had a fortified settlement on the hill immediately north of Selçuk, which was directly open to the sea (Sacred Harbor). From the 11th B.C. onwards this settlement was occupied and Hellenised by Ionian Greeks. Thanks to its excellent situation on an inlet cutting deep into the land, at the end of a major trade route from the interior, and on a fertile plain, Ephesus developed into a flourishing commercial city.In about 387 B.C., in order to re-establish the city's link with the sea, King Lysimachos had it moved to the low-lying ground between Mounts Pion and Koressos (now Panayir Dagi and Bülbül Dagi), both of which were brought within the walls of the city.Under the Roman Empire (first and second centuries A.D.) it enjoyed a fresh period of prosperity as capital of the Roman province of Asia, becoming the largest city in the East after Alexandria with a population of over 200,000. St Paul preached here on his second missionary journey and later spent three years (55-58) in Ephesus (Acts 18: 19; 19). The city's principal church was later dedicated to St John and became one of the great pilgrimage centers of Asia Minor. In 263 the Goths destroyed the city and the Artemiseion on one of their raiding expeditions.Under the Eastern Empire, mainly as a result of the steady silting up of its harbor, Ephesus declined in importance and in size. Its circuit of walls was reduced in extent, excluding the Hellenistic agora and giving little protection to the harbor area - though the city was still sufficiently important to be the venue of the Third Ecumenical Council in 431. In the reign of Justinian the population withdrew to the original settlement site on the hill above the Artemiseion.Ephesus was captured and plundered by the Mongols led by Tamarlane (Timur Lang). Thereafter the last surviving remains of the town were reduced to ruins during the bitter conflicts between the Seljuks and the Ottomans.
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Visiting the Ruins
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