Ephesus Archaeological Site


Ephesus Archaeological Site is an ancient city situated 3 km (2 mi) West of Selçuk in Turkey. Ephesus is one of the most magnificent and important sites in the Hellenistic World famous for beautiful buildings, majestic statues and a house where Saint Mary, mother of Jesus Christ, lived along with disciples of her son.


Location: 3 km (2 mi) West of Selçuk   Map

Tel. (0232) 892 60 10

Info: Selçuk tourist office

Tel. (0232) 892 69 45


Open: 8:30am- 4:30pm daily

8:30am- 7pm daily (summer)


General Layout of Ephesus Archaeological Site

There were three entrances to the ancient Ephesus. The harbor was the most common since Ephesus was an important trade city and thousands of sailors and traders came here annually. Additionally there was Koressos Gate that is situated behind a Stadium and the Magnesian Gate that stood on the road that led to the house of Saint Mary, Holy Virgin. It was discovered by engineer and architect J.T. Wood in 1869 in his search for legendary Wonder of the World, Temple of Artemis. Much of the original gate was destroyed. Its stones were probably re used in construction of farmers' houses near by. But by the layout of the ruins we can tell that the gate was just about 3.70 meters in width and contained a small square courtyard on the city side. Apparently it was a way to secure the city by checking every person who entered the city. New comer would be surrounded by soldiers on all sides of the courtyard walls before his or her identity would be checked.


Eastern Group of Buildings in Ephesus Archaeological Site

Theatre (Ephesus Archaeological Site)

The Great Theatre of Ephesus is the largest well preserved structure in the city. It is situated on the slopes of Panayir Hill. Ancient Greek engineers used natural terrain of the city to create semi- circular structure to fit maximal number of residents here. It is possible that this area was used by locals for thousands of years, but a permanent Hellenistic Theatre was constructed in the third century BC during reign of king Lysimachos. During the Roman period its was further enlarged to fit growing population of the city. The theatre in the ancient Hellenistic World was more than just a site for theatrical performance, plays and concerts. It was also a site for political and philosophical debates that could be viewed publically by the residents of the city. Additionally religious ceremonies were commonly performed here devoted to numerous Greek and Anatolian deities. Later in the Roman period a number of shows were also diversified by gladiator and animal fights. At its heyday the Great Theater could seat over 25,000 spectators on its sixty six rows of seats. These rows were divided by two diazoma or simply walkways between seats so that citizens could quickly reach their seats and leave them as well. Most prominent residents of Ephesus obviously got the best seats for the show right in front of the center stage. Additionally their seats were made of marble with backs for more support. Surprisingly many of the elements of the ancient structure were preserved despite of centuries of abandonment. However the most prominent portion of the theatre was its Stage structure. It measured 18 meters high with three stories of columns, reliefs and beautiful carvings. Much of it is gone however.


Celsius Library or Celsus Library (Ephesus Archaeological Site)

Celsius Library or Celsus Library is probably most famous structure in this ancient city. It was constructed in 117 AD as a monumental mausoleum in honor of Gaius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus, the governor of the Roman province of Asia. His body was entombed underneath the ground floor. Statue of Greek goddess of wisdom Athena stood above it as a commemoration of wisdom of this famous political figure. Additionally the tomb served as a library with over 12,000 ancient scrolls stored in the niches of the building. Two rows of Corinthian columns surround three entrances. Four statues that stand at the entrance symbolize certain virtues like wisdom (sophia), knowledge (episteme), intelligence (ennoia) and valor (arete). However these are copies. The original statues are stored in the museum in Vienna of Austria.

Slope Houses (Ephesus Archaeological Site)

Slope Houses are fairly well preserved ruins of rich and affluent neighborhood of Ephesus. Its construction dates back to the Roman and early Byzantium period.


Marble Road (Ephesus Archaeological Site)

Marble Road is a beautiful road that lead from the Great Theatre to the Celsus Library. It is entirely paved in marble and it was part of the older main road that lead to the Temple of the Artemis. The road was constructed in its present orientation in the middle of the 1st century AD (reign of Roman emperor Nero) and later its was reconstructed in the 5th century. Unfortunately vandals and hooligans existed in the ancient times. You can see plenty of graffiti and pictures carved in the marble blocks. Some have no significant meanings, while others are political statements as well as directions to the nearest brother in the area.

Curetes Street (Ephesus Archaeological Site)


Brothel (Ephesus Archaeological Site)


Temple of Domitian (Ephesus Archaeological Site)

Temple of Domitian was dedicated by the citizens of Ephesus to the ancient Roman emperor Domitian (51- 96 AD). Among other things he became famous for his persecution of Saint John the Evangelist, author of one of the Gospel, book of Revelation as well as a former resident of Ephesus. However unpopular ruler did last very long. He was assassinated in 96 AD and residents simply re- dedicated the temple in honor of emperor Vespasian, father of Domition.


State Agora (Ephesus Archaeological Site)

State Agora was an important plaza in the center of Ephesus. It was a gathering place for important political and business discussions and agreements. It measures 160 meters by 73 meters with stoas on its three sides with a small temple devoted to Egyptian goddess of fertility Isis in the center.

Odeon or Odeion (Ephesus Archaeological Site)

Odeon is a small version of the Great Theatre. It was constructed in the 2nd century AD with resources provided by wealthy citizen of Ephesus: Publius Vedius Antonius and his wife Flavia Paiana. It served as a place for play performances as well as a site of Bouleuterion or meeting of the Boulea, Roman version of the Roman city senate. It could seat over 1500 residents and it was covered by a wooden roof that is long gone.

Varius Baths (Ephesus Archaeological Site)

Varius Baths or Baths of Varius is a complex that date back to the 2nd century AD. The mosaics in the 40 meter corridor of the baths was added in the early Byzantine period in the 5th century. It was constructed mostly out of splendid marble. Baths in the Roman empire served more than just a place to wash yourself. It was a social gathering place where people could met each other, discuss important and less important matters of the city, strike agreements and many other things. Basically it was a social network before the invention of a Facebook. Archeological excavations are still to be commenced here, but most Roman baths consisted of three main sections. One was called caldarium that contained hot water for its visitors, tepidarium with warm water and finally frigidarium with cold water.


Northern Group in Ephesus Archaeological Site

Temple of Artemis (Ephesus Archaeological Site)

Temple of Artemis was one of the largest and one of the most beautiful temples of the Antiquity. It was considered to be one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Greeks devoted to the goddess Artemis, but local cult of this Greek deity is somewhat different from the usual cult that was practiced in the mainland Greece. While most Greeks viewed Artemis as a virgin huntress and sister of Apollo, Ephesian Artemis was viewed as a goddess of fertility. Its many breasts or eggs represented prosperity. Today temple lies largely north of Ephesus center. Today only few pieces of the former structure can tell about its former grandiosity.


The first sanctuary on this place was constructed by Greek settlers during the Bronze Age. However the original complex was destroyed in the 7th century BC by violent floods. The second temple that became famous in the whole Greek World was started around 550 BC by the Cretan architect Chersiphron along with his son Metagenes. Resources for the new temple were provided by legendary king Croesus of Lydia. It took about 10 years to complete. New shrine was destroyed on July 20th (or 21st) 356 BC in an act of arson by Herostratus. The legend goes that the man was psychologically disturbed and wanted to make it into history books and be remembered. Ironically this idiotic act did pay off. He is still remembered for his actions, but the temple was later reconstructed shortly thereafter. Ancient Greek historian Plutarch claimed that the fire coincided with birth of great Greek/ Macedonian king Alexander the Great. Goddess Artemis was apparently too busy with attending to birth of the great general so she missed her chance to save her shrine.


The temple of Artemis was destroyed in 269 AD during raid of the Gothic tribes, one of East Germanic tribe. Former religious shrine was abandoned. Former plaza eventually turned into a swampy area. Local residents occasionally used ruins as a source for quarry for stones. It wouldn't be surprising if you see various blocks of the ancient structure in the walls of later buildings. The site of the former temple was re- discovered in 1869 by John Turtle Wood and his expedition sponsored by the British Museum.

Basilica of Saint John (Ephesus Archaeological Site)

Basilica of Saint John the Evangelist is a Byzantine Christian church that was constructed in the 6th century (circa 530) on the orders of Byzantine emperor Justinian (527- 65 AD) to replace smaller and more modest chapel that once stood here. It stood on a site that was alleged to be a burial site of Saint John, apostle of Jesus Christ and author of several books in the Bible. This included Gospel of John as well as book of Revelation. The basilica fell in disrepair after constant raids by the Arab armies. In 1330 Seljuk Aydinoglu converted Basilica into a mosque. Most of frescoes inside were destroyed around this time since Islam prohibits any depictions of humans and animals. However in 1402 the church/ mosque was destroyed by the Mongol armies of Tamerlane. It was abandoned ever since.


Isabey Mosque (Ephesus Archaeological Site)

Isabey Mosque was constructed by Seljuk Turks in 1375 under orders of Emir of Aydin. Some parts of this Muslim temple contains stones and columns from the destroyed Temple of Artemis that was found near by.

Stadium (Ephesus Archaeological Site)

Original stadium was constructed during Hellenistic age somewhere in the late 4th century BC. However it was largely increased in the middle of the first century AD during reign of Roman emperor Nero. Like many Roman stadiums it had a U shape to its alignment. The best preserved portion of this massive structure are ruins that were constructed on the Mount Pion (Panayirdag) adjacent to this sports arena. Originally it was intended for sports activities and various mass religious ceremonies. However over time it became a center of other types of entertainment which included gladiator fights, animals fights and execution of criminals as well as Christians. With the growth of Christianity in the country bloody sports were put to an end. The Persecution Gate was added in memory of many Christian martyrs who died here. Many of the seats were later reused in various construction projects. Some of the former marble seats were used in the construction of Basilica of Saint John.


Western Group in Ephesus Archaeological Site

House of the Virgin Mary (Ephesus Archaeological Site)

House of the Virgin Mary is a small shrine that is believed by some Christians as the site where Mary, Mother of God lived after Crucifixion of her son Jesus Christ. It is situated at some distance from the ancient Ephesus about 9 km from the ancient archaeological site. It is a typical ancient Roman building constructed entirely of stone with few windows, since glass was very expensive at the time. In the 4th century AD this became the first Christian temple devoted to Saint Mary.