According to tradition, Efes (Ephesus), one of the most important cities of antiquity, was founded by Androclos, although it has been established that the Lelegians and Carians inhabited the place earlier. The city must have been colonized no later than the 10th century B.C., by the lonians. Then Persian invasion in the 6th century B.C. took place. As you can see Ephesus History goes way back. This was followed by Ionian uprising against the Persians during the 5th century B.C. The ruins remaining are of the city established by Lyssimachos, one of the generals of Alexander the Great in the 3rd century B.C. The best remains of the city ramparts today are from this era. During its Golden Age (2nd century B.C.), the city had a population of around 300,000; it monopolized the wealth of the Middle East and was one of the principal ports of the Mediterranean. Finally, the Roman and Byzantine Empires took control of the city. When the Seljuks and later Ottomans claimed the control of the city, it had already lost its commercial and political significance. Today, a visit to Ephesus is one of the highlights of any visit to Turkey.
Visits to the ruins of Efes usually begin in the eastern part of the city through the Magnesia Gate, around the important Upper Agora or also known as the State Agora. The Eastern Gymnasium is located just next to the Magnesia Gate on the Pion mountain side. Clustered around the State Agora were the Varius Baths and the Odeion, both from the 2nd century A.D., the Prythaneion or Town Hall, and the Temple of Domitian – the first temple of Efes to be built in the name of an emperor (81 – 96A.D.) – located next to the Domitian Square. The Temple of Dea Roma was located right next to the Odeion.
Leading westwards from the Upper Agora is the famous Curettes Street. Of particular interest on the eastern part of the street are the Pollio(4th century A.D.) and Traian (2nd century A.D.) Fountains, the Memmius Monument (1st. century A.D.), the elegant facade of the Temple of Hadrianus, the Skolasticia Baths (2nd cent. A.D.), and the Heracles Gate. Set on the hillside above the street are the restored Terraced Houses, containing interesting, often well preserved frescoes from the 2nd century A.D.
At the start of the Marble Street (built by Nero, 54-68 A.D.) is the Lower Agora. Just to the left as one approaches the agora, is the Celsus Library (2nd century A.D.) with its very elaborate facade, which has been restored. The Gate of Mazaeus and Mithridates has been restored and is the most beautiful entrance to the Agora. One of the most interesting buildings in Ephesus, the Serapis Temple, is located right to the west of the Agora. St. Paul gave sermons in the Grand Theatre, seating 25,000 – the most spectacular monument of Efes. The Theatre beautifully restored and now serves as a setting for the artistic and folkloric shows of the international Efes Festival, held every year in spring. The Theatre Gymnasium, opposite, built in the 2nd century A.D., also contained a bath-house.
The Arcadian Way was the long main road, paved with marble and lined with columns on both sides, that stretched from the Grand Theatre to the old port, now totally silted. On this road was the Four Evangelists Monument – four columns upon which stood statues of the four evangelists. The marvelous Hellenistic Fountain stood just across the Theater and next to the eastern end of the Arcadian Way. I love Ephesus History.
The Vedius Gymnasium was located to the north end of the city, right next to the Byzantine era city ramparts. The oval shaped stadium was built during the time of Emperor Neron and located to the south of the Vedius Gymnasium. There was also a love house behind the Hadrianus Temple.
Down by the ancient harbour is the Harbour Gymnasium and Baths. These were constructed near the quay in order to receive with hospitality dignitaries who arrived from the sea.
The Church of the Holy Virgin Mary was constructed in the 2nd and 3rd centuries, and it played an important role in the early expansion of Christianity; this church symbolized one of seven Churches of the Apocalypse.
The cave of the Seven Sleepers is reached through the asphalt road which goes through the east of the Vedius Gymnasium.
Nearby is the House of the Virgin Mary. According to tradition, St. John brought Mary to Efes after the death of Christ. A small house was built for her on Bulbuldagi (Mt. Nightingale) where she spent the last days of her life. Officially sanctioned by the Vatican, it is now popular site of pilgrimage, visited by Christians and Muslims from all over the world. A commemoration ceremony is held here every year on the 15th of August.
On the road from Efes to Selcuk is the ruin of the Temple of Artemis. Once numbered amongst the Seven Wonders of the ancient world, it was constructed entirely of marble. The marble road which was connecting the Temple of Artemis to the State Agora through the Magnesia Gate was considered to be the holy road of the city.
The town of Selcuk is dominated by a Byzantine citadel overlooking the Basilica of St.John (presently under restoration). The present structure was built by the Emperor Justinian in the 6th century A.D. St.John lived on this hilltop and was buried here. Next to the Basilica is the Isa Bey Mosque with its typical Seljuk-style portal. It is one of the finest major works representing Seljuk art.
The first excavations of the ancient city of Ephesus was started in the late 19th century.
The Efes Archaeological Museum in Selcuk has been enlarged and displays now the impressive works of art recovered from and around Efes.