Filled with ancient ruins left behind by a parade of empires, and furnished with sights on display that never fail to impress, Turkey is a fascinating destination that spans Asia and Europe.
Its vibrant culture, famous food, and vast history fascinate all who venture here, while its gorgeous landscapes, from the sunny Mediterranean Sea to mighty mountains and arid plains, are tourist attractions in themselves.
Whether you want to soak up the Byzantine and Ottoman glories of Istanbul on a city break, relax on the beach, or delve into history meandering through ruins like Ephesus.
Not to be missed, the mighty ruin of Ephesus is a city of massive ruins and marble colonnaded streets.
One of the most famous ancient cities in the Mediterranean, still standing, and the place to experience what life was like during the golden age of the Roman Empire.
The history of the city dates back to the 10th century BC, but the main ruins you see today all date back to Roman times when it was a thriving trade center.
In particular, the Library of Celsus, the complex of frescoed terraced houses, and the Great Theatre, all point to the wealth and importance of Ephesus during the Roman period.
A sightseeing trip here can take at least half a day to cover the main sights and longer if you really feel like exploring, so be sure to plan your visit so you don’t feel rushed.
History of Ephesus
The Carians and Lydians were the first inhabitants of this area and may have been responsible for building a fortified settlement open directly to the sea at this site.
From the 11th century BC onwards, this settlement became Hellene through the arrival of the Ionian Greeks.
Thanks to its excellent location on an inlet cutting deep into the earth – at the end of a major inland trade route and on a fertile plain – Ephesus developed into a thriving trading city.
Under the Roman Empire (1st-2nd centuries AD), the city continued to flourish as the capital of the Roman province of Asia and became the largest city in the East after Alexandria, with a population of over 200,000.
Saint Paul preached here on his second missionary journey and after that he spent three years in Ephesus. The main church in the city was later dedicated to Saint John, and during the Byzantine era it became one of the largest centers of pilgrimage in Asia Minor.
In AD 263, when the city was destroyed by the Goths in one of their raiding campaigns, it signaled the start of the city’s slow decline, with Ephesus gradually diminishing in importance and size due to the continued inundation of its port.
Despite this, in the fifth century, the city was still important enough to serve as the venue for the Third Ecumenical Council (AD 431).
The capture and plunder of Ephesus by the Mongols of Tamarlan proved to be the city’s last act. Subsequently, the last surviving remnants of the city were reduced to ruins during the bitter conflicts between the Seljuks and the Ottomans.