Ephesus: A Monument for All Time
The ancient city of Ephesus is Turkey’s most important ancient city, and one of the best preserved and restored. One can still stroll for hours along its streets passing temples, theatres, libraries, houses and statues. It contains such grand public buildings as the impressive Library of Celsus, the theatre, the Temple of Hadrian and the sumptuous Temple of Artemis which is considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The ruins also include public toilets and even a brothel dating mostly from the fourth century BC. Ephesus is particularly important for faith tourism as it contains the House of the Virgin Mary. It is believed that the Virgin Mary was taken to this stone house by St John, where she lived until her death at the age of 101. The Church of the Virgin Mary, close to the original harbour of Ephesus, was the setting for the Third Ecumenical Council in 431. Two other religious sites worth visiting are the Basilica of St John, built in the sixth century, and İsa Bey Mosque, which is a sample of Seljuk architecture. Ephesus is not just a touristic site. It is home to the International İzmir Festival utilising its grand amphitheatre, Celsus Library and the House of the Virgin Mary.
As one of the most important centres of the ancient era that is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2015, Ephesus had been inhabited approximately for 9,000 years throughout the Hellenistic Era, Roman Period, Byzantine Era, the Period of Principalities and the Ottoman Era. It was a very important port city and centre of culture and commerce. The whole site comprises Çukuriçi Mound, Ayasuluk Hill (Selçuk Fortress, the Basilica of St. John, İsa Bey Bath, İsa Bey Mosque, Temple of Artemis), the House of the Virgin Mary, and of course the ancient city of Ephesus.