Ephesus (in Turkish: Efes)
The history of Ephesus goes back to ancient times. Built in the 10th century BC by Greek colonists on the cost of Ionia, it became later the capital of the Roman Asia Minor under the rule of Emperor Augustus in 27 BC. Ephesus then experienced an era of prosperity, becoming both a political seat and a major trade center. At that time, it was the second great and important city After Rome, with a population of some 200,000. This city was a center of attraction for traders, sailors, and pilgrims thanks to its Temple of Artemis.
Although its ruins are located at the present time about six kilometers within the hinterland near the towns of Selçuk and Kuşadası, Ephesus was during the Byzantine period one of the busiest ports of the Aegean Sea, near the mouth of the great Anatolian river Cayster (in Turkish: Küçük Menderes).
Ephesus was an important religious center for Christianity in the first century B.C. Paul the Apostle – one of the most important Christian figures – lived in Ephesus, organizing missionary activities and trying to teach the gospel of Christ. He founded several churches there. The House of the Virgin Mary, about 6 km from Selçuk, is considered to be the last home of Mary, mother of Jesus according to the Roman Catholic tradition.
Main sites of Ephesus:
The Library of Celsus: It was built between 117 A.D and 120 in honor of the Roman Senator Tiberius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus by his son Gaius Julius Aquila who succeeded him as governor. It was the third biggest library of the world after the libraries of Alexandria and Pergamum. It stored 12,000 scrolls kept in wooden cupboards built into the walls. In the main entrance of the library is located the monumental tomb of Celsus; he is buried in a sarcophagus beneath it. The façade of the library was restored later.
The Temple of Artemis: Ephesus owes its fame to the Temple of Artemis which is dedicated to the memory of Artemis, goddess of the hunt and the moon. At that time, this temple was so big that it was considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Nowadays it remains only a few pieces of marble. Destroyed in the 7th century BC following a flood, it began to be reconstructed in 550 BC, being financed by Croesus, king of Lydia.