Selcuk Tourist Attractions
The town of Selçuk lies near the ancient site of Ephesus.
Basilica of St John
A short distance from the main square of Selçuk, the lower ward of the citadel is entered through the Byzantine Gate, also called the Gate of Persecution, erected in the seventh century using fragments of earlier masonry. A few paces beyond this are the remains of the Basilica of St John, which occupied almost the whole breadth of the hill and ranked with Hagia Sophia and the Church of the Holy Apostles (destroyed) in Constantinople as one of the largest Byzantine churches. According to tradition the grave of St John the Divine is under the church. Originally a mausoleum with a domed roof borne on four columns was built over the grave.The Emperor Justinian (527-65) replaced this church by a monumental three-aisled basilica on a Latin-cross plan, with six domes. Including the narthex at the west end and the arcaded courtyard the new church was 130m/427ft long and 40m/130ft wide. The position of the Saint's tomb was marked by a tiered marbled platform, from which steps led down to the tomb.After the Seljuks captured Ephesus they converted the church into a mosque (1130). Later it served as a bazaar until it was finally destroyed in an earthquake. In recent times it has been partly restored. A tablet commemorates a visit by Pope Paul VI on June 26th 1967.
To the north of the basilica in Selçuk, on the highest point of the hill stands the Citadel, in an excellent state of preservation. There is no written evidence as to its date, but the style of masonry indicates that it was built in Byzantine times and extended by the Seljuks. The mighty enclosure wall had fifteen towers, mostly rectangular. Within the walls are several cisterns, a small Seljuk mosque and a Byzantine church.
Isa Bey Mosque
On the southwest side of the citadel hill in Selçuk is the Great Mosque (also known as the Isa Bey Mosque or Selim Mosque) which dates from Seljuk times. The tall outer walls, 57m/87ft long by 51m/167ft wide, enclose a large arcaded courtyard with the fountain for ritual ablutions and the prayer hall, the central area of which had two domes borne on columns, while the two side wings had flat timber roofs. The large columns of black granite came from the Roman baths at the harbor. The prayer hall was entered from the courtyard with three arches and two side doorways. Above the main entrance, which is richly decorated with inlay work, is an elaborate calligraphic inscription. Dated January 10th 1375 it identifies Ali, son of Mushimish al-Damishki as the architect of the mosque.
Temple of Artemis
Some 300m/330yds south of the Great Mosque in Selçuk are the sparse remains of the Artemiseion, or Temple of Artemis, once one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The excavations carried out by the Briton J. T. Wood showed that the site was originally occupied by a stone platform on which stood the cult image of the goddess, while under the platform were rooms in which votive offerings were preserved; to the west was another platform. In a later building phase the two platforms were linked with one another, and later still a cella measuring 16m/52ft by 31m/102ft was built over them. It is not known whether the cella was surrounded by columns. Finally in the sixth century B.C. a gigantic marble temple was built, measuring 106m/348ft by 55m/180ft. On 36 of the 127 columns the lower drum of the shaft was embellished with reliefs. The temple was twice restored and rebuilt before finally falling into a state of complete dilapidation in Byzantine times and being used as a quarry for building material.Columns and marble slabs from the temple can be seen in the Haga Sophia (Ayasofa) in Istanbul and elsewhere. The foundations of the altar, measuring 30m/100ft by 40m/130ft, were discovered in 1965.