Ephesus (Efes) is one of the ancient world's largest and most important archaeological and religious sites, second only to Pompeii. It is also one of the busiest and takes 2/3 hours to visit and a bottle of water. Most tours will start at the upper entrance so that it is a downhill walk through the site. As you walk in, circling the Upper Agora you will find the restored Odeon, Domitian Temple, prytaneum and Varius baths. Then along Curetes Street there are the public latrines, Trajan's Fountain and the Temple of Hadrian, behind which are the Scholastica Baths. At the end of Curetes Street are the Terraced houses and the impressive frontage of the library of Celsus and the Serapis Temple. On Marble Street you will find the lower agora and the extensively restored Great Amphi-theatre, where St Paul was arrested. Just before the exit to the right are the Harbour Baths and Gymnasian, approached along the Arcadian Way. From the path here you can get a good photo of the huge Amphi-Theatre before you leave the site.
In nearby Selcek, you can visit Ayasoluk hill and the Basilica of St. John, where the Apostle is buried, and the Archaelogical Museum that features lots of items found at Ephesus. On the road to Ephesus are the scanty remains of the Artemision (Temple of Artemis), considered in its time to be one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. South of Ephesus is Meryemana, the site of the supposed House of the Virgin Mary. Although most believe that Mary was buried in Jerusalem, some Christians believe that she travelled with St John and spent her last years here. The house, now a chapel, probably dates from the Byzantine era.
According to legend, Ephesus was founded by Androclus and the Ionians settled here during the 11th century BC, building monuments dedicated to Artemis, goddess of chastity, the moon and hunting. Because it was not fortified, it passed between Greek and Persians until Alexander the Great arrived. During the Roman imperial era the fine public buildings were added and it was called the capital of Asia. Boasting a mixed population, Christian preachers including St. Paul and St. John visited the area, establishing the Seven Churches of the Apocalypse. St. John addresses this city in his Book of Revelation, after preaching in the Theatre of Ephesus and St Paul lived here from 51 to 53 AD until he was expelled for causing controversy with the silversmiths. Silting up of the harbour here resulted in a population drift to the nearby town of Selcuk.
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