Ephesus, the extraordinary ancient city with its Great Theater, Celsus Library, Temple of Artemis and Terrace Houses still being uncovered is a must stop if you’re planning to visit Turkey.
Located in present day Selçuk, Ephesus was originally a Greek city renown for the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. When the Romans made their march on, well, everywhere, Ephesus became a Roman city and ultimately the capital of Asia Minor. There were spring festivals for Artemis (Diana to the Romans) and Ephesus became the largest city in the area with about 400,000 inhabitants.
As the Roman empire declined, Ephesus lost its place in the spotlight until in the mid 19th century when archaeologists began excavating it. To their astonishment, there is much to find! Less than 1/4th of the city has been uncovered but it is still the larges excavation in the world.
The Terrace Houses, extraordinary dwellings with creature comforts that we know today like heating systems and private baths, were homes to the rich and important of the day. The frescoed walls and mosaic floors are being painstakingly reconstructed and their incredible details are being rediscovered.
The Great Theater is a huge outdoor amphitheater that seats some 25,000 people. Known in biblical times as the place where St. Paul preached to the Ephesians, in modern times it has been used for concerts because of its near-perfectly designed acoustics. Fans and performers alike marveled at the environment and mega-stars such as Elton John, Diana Ross and Sting. Concerts by performers from around the world are still given (though no major rock concerts because of the structural damage caused by the volume).
The Celsus Library is also interesting. It was built to hold 12,00 scrolls and serve as a tomb for a Roman senator, who is buried in a sarcophagus beneath the library. But what may be even more interesting is that there was a “secret” tunnel that connected the library to a local brothel, enabling gentlemen who did not wish their whereabouts to be scrutinized could head to the library and then steal away for entertainment elsewhere without observation.
Ephesus it is a popular location for extraordinary weddings, cocktail parties and other celebrations that can be catered, including at the House of the Virgin Mary, which is a small dwelling built by the Apostle John where Mary, the mother of Jesus, lived to the end of her life. Restaurants like Prince of the Castle, Yavuz’un Yeri and Artemis are popular places to eat in the area and there are some quick bites and sellers of wine, oil and other goodies nearby too.
The residents of this ancient city took advantage of the Market Square or Agora, where they could purchase food and other manufactured goods. Bread, wine, olives, figs and cheese, staples of the residents would taste especially good on a modern visit too. If you listen carefully, you might just hear the ancient voices whispering about the next great meal…
THE QUICK BITE: Ephesus, the extraordinary ancient city with its Great Theater, Celsus Library, Temple of Artemis and Terrace Houses still being uncovered is a must stop if you’re planning to visit Turkey.