The Ephesus ancient city is one of the oldest and most important cities in history, which is located in the Selçuk district of İzmir today and has been used as a settlement for 9000 years without interruption.
Ephesus archaeological site, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List, is home to the Temple of Artemis, one of the seven wonders of the world, and the Church of the Virgin Mary, which has a very important place for Christianity. It was once the capital of Eastern Rome.
In this article, you will find how to get to Ephesus Turkey, things to do in Ephesus Turkey, Ephesus ancient city entrance fees and Ephesus ruins, and all the information that will benefit you during your trip.
Table of Contents
- History of Ephesus
- Ephesus Archaeological Site and Ruins in Ephesus
- Why is Ephesus Important for Christianity?
- Ephesus Ancient City Entrance Fee
- Ephesus Ancient City Opening Hours
- Where is Ephesus located?
- How can I go to the ancient city of Ephesus?
- Is Turkey Ephesus safe?
- Where to stay around the Ephesus ancient city?
- Questions about the Ephesus ancient city and Izmir
History of Ephesus
People have started to live around the ancient city of Ephesus since prehistoric times. But it gained the feature of being a city with the Ionians.
The city of Ephesus is a city that was founded by the Ionians in the 8th century BC and developed under the influence of many civilizations. It came under the rule of the Lydians in the 7th century BC and was captured by the Persians in the 5th century BC.
It was conquered by Alexander the Great in 334 BC and entered the Hellenistic period. Later, it was connected to the Roman Empire and entered the Byzantine period. During the Byzantine Empire, it became a region connected to Istanbul.
It was captured by the Ottomans in the 13th century and became Turkish. The Ephesus ancient city, which has developed under the influence of many civilizations throughout history, is now on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
There are two different legends about the foundation of Ephesus. Let’s talk briefly about these legends.
Legend of Androclus, son of the King of Athens
The adventurer Androklos, the son of the king of Athens, was always curious about the other side of the Aegean Sea and had a dream of going on a journey and establishing his own state.
When the son Androklos shared this dream with his father, the King got a little worried and said that he would allow his son on one condition. He asked Androklos to go to the temple of Apollo and get permission from the soothsayers.
The priests, on the other hand, gave permission to Androklos, saying that it would be appropriate to build the city where the fish and pig pointed. Although the prince was shocked at first, he put these words in his ear and formed an army, and set out with a big ship to explore this land he never knew.
The army, which reaches the shore after a difficult journey, sets up a camp and decides to cook and eat the fish they caught in the sea. Meanwhile, a wild boar comes and steals one of the fish. Seeing this, Androklos thinks of the prophets’ words and goes after the pig.
He thinks that the place where the wild boar gets tired and rests and eats the fish is the place mentioned by the oracles and establishes the modern city of Ephesus there.
The Legend of the Amazon Women
It is rumored that Ephesus was founded by warrior tribes known as Amazon women in the early times of history. The name of the city is thought to come from Apasas, a city of the Arzawa kingdom. Of course, this is a myth and there is no scientific evidence to prove this myth.
Ephesus Archaeological Site and Ruins in Ephesus
There are many historical and archaeological artifacts in the Ancient City of Ephesus. The list of Ephesus ruins you can see in and around the ancient city of Ephesus;
- The Temple of Artemis
- Celsus Library
- Upper Agora (State Agora) and Basilica
- Terrace Houses
- Trajan’s Fountain
- Curetes Street
- Grand Theater
- Eastern Gymnasium and State Agora Baths
- Magnesia Gate
- Marble Street
- Prytaneion – Prytaneion (Town Hall)
- Temple of Domitian
- Pollio Fountain
- Memmius Monument
- Heracles Gate
- Scholastic Baths
- Varius Baths
- Hadrian’s Temple (Hadrian’s Temple)
- Public Toilet (Latrina)
- Love House
- Stoa of Alytarchus
- Mazeus Gate
- Mithridates Gate
- Tetragonos Agora (Agora of Commerce)
- Harbor Street (Arcadian)(Arkadiane Street)
- Theater Gymnasium
- Harbor Bath (Port Gymnasium and Baths)
- Virgin Mary Church
- Double Churches (Consul Church)
- Palace Building
- Stadium Street (Stadium and Gymnasium)
- Vedius Gymnasium
- The Seven Sleepers
- St. Jean’s Basilica
- Isa Bey Mosque
- Ayasuluk Castle
As you can see, there are many artifacts you can visit in Ephesus. Let’s take a look at the most important of them.
The Temple of Artemis
The Temple of Artemis, located in the Ephesus ancient city and considered one of the seven wonders of the world, dates back to BC. It was made in the 550s. The largest temple of the era, the temple of Artemis was twice the size of other Greek temples, including the Parthenon.
The Artemis temple was made entirely of marble. The majestic Temple of Artemis was destroyed and rebuilt twice throughout history by the Gothic invasion and the Christian rebels. Unfortunately, only two marble columns remain from the temple of Artemis today.
Antipater of Sidon, who compiled the seven wonders of the world, described the temple as follows.
“Above proud Babylon, I saw its wall of chariots, and the statue of Zeus in Alpheus, and the hanging gardens, and the column of the Sun, and the colossal work of the high pyramids, and the vast tomb of Mausolos; but when I saw the house of Artemis built upon the clouds, all the other wonders lost their shine and I said, “There! Except for Olympus, the Sun has never looked at anything so great. (Antipater, Greek Anthology [IX.58])”
Philo of Byzantium wrote the following for the temple:
“I saw the mighty craftsmanship of the ancient Babylonians and the tomb of Mausoleus. But when I saw the temple in Ephesus rising up into the clouds, all the others were overshadowed.”
Celsus Library, one of the most beautiful structures built in the Roman period and inherited from Rome to the present day, is also a tomb monument. It was built between 110 – 135 AD in honor of Celsus by his son, Gaius Julius Aquila.
The Celsus library was open to all the people of Ephesus, like the libraries of today, and its purpose was the same as the libraries of today.
The Celsus Library, which has a richly decorated facade, is 21 meters wide and 17 meters high. The library attracts attention with its columns and sculptures at the entrance. The 4 female statues at the library entrance are; It represents Sophia (wisdom, reason), Arete (virtue, character), Ennoia (destiny, judgment), and Episteme (science, science).
There are many inscriptions in the library giving information about the library. The most important of these, and the inscription describing its establishment, is as follows;
“Tiberius Iulius Celsus Polemaeanus, proconsul of Asia, he founded the Celsus library building with his own fortune, consul Tiberius Iulius Celsus Polemaenus, for Tiberius Iulius Celsus Polemaenus, with all its decorations and works of art and books. For the preservation of the library and the purchase of books, 25,000 denarions were spent for him (ie. library) as a beginning. The heirs of Aquila completed it, and in accordance with the will, this building was dedicated by Tiberius Claudius Ariston, thrice Asiarkhos”.
Agora, located right next to the Celsus Library, was used as a marketplace in ancient times. Agora is a neat area in the city center where trade, social relations, political speeches, and religious ceremonies were held.
Agora is one of the largest and most important structures of the Ancient City of Ephesus.
Ephesus Ancient Theater
The Ephesus Ancient Theater, which was built in the 2nd century BC and has been well preserved until today, has 3 floors and a total capacity of 25000 people with 65 rows. As a result of the restoration, the capacity was reduced to 20000 people. Ephesus Antique Theater is one of the biggest theaters of its time.
Ephesus Terrace Houses
Ephesus Terrace Houses consist of seven houses built on terraces on the slopes of Bülbül Mountain in Ephesus. Notables of the city of Ephesus lived in these houses.
It was built as a monumental temple in the name of Emperor Hadrian, who visited Ephesus. There are statues of Tike and Medusa goddesses at its door. These sculptures are exhibited in the Izmir museum today.
It was built to meet the needs of the Romans and is one of the most important social structures of the Romans. It has an important water channel architecture.
The public toilet structure with a pool in the middle has cold, warm, and hot parts.
Temple of Separis
Located right next to the Celsus library and thought to be built by the Egyptians, the temple is one of the most interesting structures in Ephesus. It was later converted into a church by Christians.
Ephesus Harbor Street
It is the longest street in the Ephesus ancient city and is 600 meters. It starts from the big theater and goes all the way to the port. It has columns on both sides and the floors are made of marble.
During the Christian period, the column with the 4 apostles statues was added to the middle of the street and they formed the Four Apostles Monument.
The house of love is today’s brothel. It was forbidden to go to the love house. For this reason, it is thought that there are many underground passages and signs such as footprints that were used to show the roads. I guess we wouldn’t be wrong if we say the billboards of the past 🙂
The Seven Sleepers (Ashab-i Kehf)
The Seven Sleepers is actually a legend and is mentioned with minor differences in both Christianity and Islam. It is claimed that this legend is lived in 4 different places in Turkey and 33 different places in the world.
According to the story of the Seven Sleepers in the city of Ephesus, seven Christian youths in early Rome were afraid of being executed in pagan ceremonies and took shelter in a cave near Ephesus. Roman soldiers follow them and find the cave where they were hiding. They block the mouth of the cave with stones and put a sign in front of it saying that one of the Seven Infidels was left to die.
After 230 years, the cave is opened and seven people are seen sleeping in the cave. This is how the legend spreads.
St. Jean’s Basilica
Included in the UNESCO world cultural heritage list together with Ephesus since 2015, the Basilica is one of the most important figures of Christianity, STt. The basilica where the tomb of John (Saint John) is located.
It is thought that the Gospel of John was written here and it is considered one of the most important pilgrimage destinations after Jerusalem for Christians.
St. Jean Basilica is 3.5 km away from the ancient city of Ephesus and takes 9 minutes by car.
If you want to visit St. Jean’s Basilica, you need to buy tickets separately. The entrance fee to St. Jean Church is 40 Turkish Liras per person. If you are a Museum pass Turkey owner, it is free.
The working hours of St. Jean Church are 08:30 – 18:00. The ticket office closes at 17:00.
House of the Virgin Mary
Located in the ancient city of Ephesus and 9 km from Selçuk, the House of Virgin Mary is celebrated on the 15th of August every year after the visit of Pope Paul VI in 1967. Masses are held on this day and great attention is paid to these rites.
4 or 6 years after Jesus’ death, St. It is thought that John brought the Virgin Mary to Ephesus and lived in this house.
The presence of the House of the Virgin Mary in Ephesus Turkey also has a very interesting story. A.Katherina EMERICH, a German nun who has never left her village, falls ill with a relentless disease and begins to give real information about places and people she has never seen.
This caught the attention of Clemens Brentano and he settled in the village. Here he puts what the nun told into a book. A group of people who read the book wonder about the accuracy of the Virgin Mary’s House and go to investigate and find the house. This event has been a brand new discovery in the world of Christianity and has shed light on the world of religion.
Virgin Mary’s House entrance fee is 15 TL per person. The working hours of the Virgin Mary House are from 08:30 in the morning to 17:00 in the evening.
If you want to learn more about the House of the Virgin Mary, you can visit this site.
Why is Ephesus Important for Christianity?
The Ephesus ancient city is very important for Christians and thousands of tourists visit it every year for pilgrimage. So why is Ephesus important to Christians;
- Emperor II. The Ecumenical Council convened in Ephesus at the invitation of Theodosius, Hz. He considered Mary to be the one who gave birth to “God”.
- Hz. It is thought that the mother of Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and St. Jean spent their last years in Ephesus. Mary’s House and St. The fact that Jean’s grave is in Ephesus strengthens this claim.
- It is thought that important Christians such as St. Jean and St. Paul came to Ephesus in the 1st century AD and played an important role in the spread of Christianity.
Ephesus Ancient City Entrance Fee
The entrance fee to the ancient city of Ephesus is 200 TL (11 USD or 10 EURO) per person for 2023. If you have a Museum Pass Aegean or Museum Pass Turkey, admission is free.
Ephesus is one of the largest and most important ancient cities you can visit in Turkey. If you come to Izmir, you should definitely see it.
In addition, it would be useful to take a look at our Museum Pass Turkey article to visit the ancient cities in Turkey in an advantageous way.
Ephesus Ancient City Opening Hours
The opening time of the Ephesus ancient city is 08:30 in the morning and the closing time is 18:00 in the evening. The box office closing time is 17:00. We recommend that you spend at least 2 hours in the ancient city of Ephesus.
Where is Ephesus located?
The ancient city of Ephesus is located in the Selçuk district of İzmir on the western coast of Turkey today. The city, which had a coast to the sea in the past, has remained a little more inland due to the natural events experienced over time.
How can I go to the ancient city of Ephesus?
If you are coming from abroad and want to go to the Ephesus ancient city, the easiest transportation is to go to the ancient city of Ephesus by road after arriving at Izmir Airport. To get to the ancient city of Ephesus from Izmir, you can take the metro called İzban, then get off at the Tepeköy stop and transfer to the Selçuk metro. If you don’t want to use the metro, you can take the Selçuk buses from the city bus terminal.
The distance between Izmir and the ancient city of Ephesus is 80 km, and if you prefer a taxi, it can be a bit expensive. If you do not want to use public transport, the easiest and most comfortable solution is to rent a car. You can take a look to rent a car internationally in Izmir, safely and cheaply from a company.
The distance between Kuşadası and the Ephesus ancient city is only 18 km. You can go by bus departing from the center of Kusadasi or by your own vehicle.
Click to browse the ancient city of Ephesus on the map.
Is Turkey Ephesus safe?
One of the first questions that come to mind of foreigners who are considering visiting Turkey is whether it is safe. Turkey earns a significant income from tourism and it is very important for its economy. For this reason, the safety of tourists is given great importance and attention.
340,000 foreign tourists came to Efes Turkey this year and no security problems were reported. You can visit Izmir and the ancient city of Ephesus with peace of mind.
Where to stay around the Ephesus ancient city?
If you want to stay around the Ephesus ancient city, the best hotel I can recommend is Celsus Boutique Hotel. The breakfast-included hotel has a cozy and authentic feel.
Questions about the Ephesus ancient city and Izmir
Is the Ephesus ancient city worth seeing?
The ancient city of Ephesus is one of the oldest cities in the world. It was the capital of Eastern Rome for a period and has great importance for Christianity. If you are planning a holiday in Turkey, you should definitely spare time for the Ephesus ancient city.
Is there an entrance fee to the ancient city of Ephesus?
Yes, there is an entrance fee to the Ephesus ancient city and it is 200 Turkish Liras. If you buy a museum pass, admission is free. Efes definitely deserves this money.
How long is required for the Ephesus ancient city?
The Ephesus ancient city is a very large ancient city and there are historical sites worth seeing, such as the House of the Virgin Mary. It would be beneficial to spare 2-3 hours for the Ephesus ancient city and its surroundings.
Is the Ephesus Serapis church one of the seven holy churches?
No, the church of Separis, known as the holy seven churches, is in the Bergama district of Izmir. The Temple of Serapis in the ancient city of Ephesus was built by the Egyptians for their gods.