Magnificent, inspiring, gorgeous, amazing, extra-ordinary...These are only a few words that may describe Ephesus. However no one could adequately describe Ephesus with words; one has to see Ephesus to appreciate it. A visit to Ephesus, one of the largest and best-preserved ancient cities in the world, is a must for those who are interested in archaeology and culture.
Ephesus was inhabited by the Ionians in the XI. Century BC. In a short time, together with the native population, they created a brilliant civilization there. It was during that time that Ephesians started the construction of the great temple dedicated to Artemis, the main goddess of the city. The temple was so beautiful that it became one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The Lydians and the Persians ruled the city until Alexander the Great took control of it. After Alexander's death, the city became part of the Pergamum Kingdom. Soon, it became the main trade centre in Anatolia, the ancient name for the Asian part of Turkey.
Ephesus was bequeathed to the Roman Empire in the 2nd century BC. The Roman Period was a "golden age" for the city.
The people were rich and with a population of 250,000; Ephesus was the second most crowded city in the Roman Empire. It was during that time that Christianity started to spread into Anatolia for the first time. Ephesus was the city to which Mary the Mother and St Joan fled following the death of Christ. (Today, the Church of St. Mary stands close by the main thoroughfare of the city and it is well worth seeing). St John and St Paul also visited Ephesus so it became a religious centre for Christians.
When the Roman Empire was divided into two in 394, the city came under the rule of the Byzantine Empire. This was not a bright period for Ephesus, the city was a sacred place for Christians but it was not a trade centre anymore. The Meander River silted up the area and the harbour became a marshy land. Many people died of malaria and this brought an end to the inhabitation of the city by the 10th century.
Ephesus has been excavated since 1935. As you wander through the site, the Celsus Library, the Amphitheatre, Hadrian Temple, Scholastikia Baths, the Parliamentary Building, the Town Hall, Domitian Temple, Trajan Fountain, Terrace Houses, the Love House will be the major excavated ruins of the city which are for public viewing.
Ephesus is 185 kilometres away from Bodrum. An approximately three hours journey through the cotton fields will bring you to this unique ancient site.
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