Destinations: Ephesus

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Anthony J. Hyatt
  • 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Ephesus, Selcuk, Turkey is one of the country's most important cultural heritage sites attracting approximately 1.5 million tourists a year.

Located in southern Izmir, Ephesus is home to a number of historic works and ruins covering an area of approximately six miles.

Turkey contains two of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World: the Halicarnassus Mausoleum located in Bodrum and the Temple of Artemis, which is located in Ephesus.

The Temple of Artemis, built in the Ancient Period, was dedicated to the Mother Goddess of Anatolia. Not only was the temple used for worshipping and protection from evil, but it was also used as a storage place for the cult statues of the Goddess Artemis and other temple possessions, including the altars.

Mehmet Birbiri, 39th Air Base Wing host-nation advisor, also recommends seeing the House of Virgin Mary. Mr. Birbiri, who has lived in Turkey his entire life, has been to Ephesus many times and has vast knowledge of the Turkish culture and area.

"The House of Virgin Mary makes you feel like you are in a corner of Heaven. You feel peacefulness," said Mr. Birbiri.

Virgin Mary is considered to be the holy mother of Christianity, and it is believed that the she remained here until she passed away. The House of Virgin Mary was declared a place of pilgrimage for Christians by the Vatican in 1961.

Visitors can also travel on the 400-meter Marble Street, which starts from the Celsus Library and extends toward the Grand Theatre.

Julius Aguila, in memory of his father, built the Celsus Library around 117 A.D. The library was the third largest in the world in the Classical Period after the Alexandria Library in Egypt and the Pergamon Library in Anatolia.

The Grand Theatre, which was originally built in the Hellenistic Period with a 24,000 seat capacity, remains one of Ephesus' most beautiful structures. It witnessed many gladiator fights in the late Roman Period.

Ephesus also includes the Cave of Seven Sleepers. Legend has it that prior to the adoption of Christianity as the Roman Empire's official religion, seven children took shelter in this place. The children were escaping from devotees of idol worshipping, and they fell asleep in the cave. They woke up two centuries later to find Christianity had become the official religion of the Roman Empire.

Some other places worth visiting are the Temple of Hadrian, the Trajan Fountain, the Temple of Domitian, the Stadium and the Efes Archaeological Museum.

"Ephesus is a site that should be seen by all tourists," Mr. Birbiri said.

One day is not enough to experience all the historical sites Ephesus has to offer; so instead, make it a weekend trip and witness some cultural heritage.

Information was taken from the Izmir, Turkey, brochure prepared by Meteksan Sistem ve Bilgisayar Teknolojileri. For additional information on Izmir and other parts of Turkey, visit