EPHESUS - TURKEY

May 23

A few miles from Selcuk is the large site of Ephesus (Efes in Turkish) containing the largest collection of Roman ruins East of the Mediterranean. Only an estimated 15% has been excavated. Since the ruins of Ephesus are a major tourist attraction, we tried to arrive early. Ephesus remains a sacred site for Christians due to its association with several biblical figures, including St. Paul, St. John the Evangelist and the Virgin Mary.

We entered and walked along Harbour Street, 500 meters long and 11 metes wide. On both side of the street there were covered particos. These particos, which were reserved for pedestrians, had the function of protecting them from the bad weather and hosted shops in the inner part. Underneath the marble-paved walkway were the remains of the city's elaborate water and sewer systems

Library of Celsus

The Sacred Way ends at the famous Library. When we arrived the hoards of tourists had not yet descended so we had the breathtaking monument to ourselves.

The Library was  abandoned after a fire of unspecified date which destroyed the reading room, and around 400 AD the courtyard below the exterior steps was converted into a pool. The facade collapsed in an earthquake in the 10th century, but was carefully reconstructed from all original pieces.

After passing through a marble-paved courtyard 21 meters wide and ascending some marble steps, we reached the reading room. The library held 12,000 scrolls in niches around its walls. A one-meter gap between the library's inner and outer walls protected the valuable books from extremes of temperature and humidity.

A section sixteen meters high was very richly decorated with a raised column, door ornaments and sculptural architectural monuments, carving and decoration.

Although it now stands alone, the library was originally built between other buildings, and was built to make it look bigger than it is. Everywhere, including the ceilings, are intricately carved rock decorating the pillars.

The monumental Gate of Augustus

The Theater

Dominating the view down Harbour Street, with an estimated 44,000 seating capacity, the Theatre is believed to be the largest outdoor theater in the ancient world.

This is where St. Paul preached to the pagans, and is still in use today.


The columns which carried the marble floor of the stage are still to be seen. There were, at the front of the theater, five doors with statues above them, and three rows of columns



The sculptural figuration there represents Winged Nike, the Goddess of Victory.


Not much remains of the Temple of Domitian a temple built and dedicated to Emperor Domitian


Temple of Hadran

is an attractive edifice with  four bases with inscription, and the sculptural statues of the emperors who shared the throne of the Roman Empire between 293-305

The Latrina built in the first century A.D. are the public toilets of Ephesus. The toilets were ranged side by side with no partition between them. In the middle was a square pool. The floor was paved with mosaics.

Terraced Houses

For an additional admission fee, Chris toured the hillside houses which were in the process of restoration. they were inhibited by the most qualified and wealthy social class. Each house had a door which opened onto the side street from a terrace and a courtyard surrounded by rooms.

The houses were heated by a system similar to the one used in spas. The inside rooms had frescoed walls depicting especially mythological subjects, while the floors were usually adorned with refined mosaics.

The Odeion

Built into the slope of the hill, the Odeion was a smaller open air theatre that could seat 2,200 people, used for poetry-readings, small concerts and prize-giving ceremonies

In the foreground were the ruins of the The Town Hall where the seats of the government of the city-states were located.

Late morning the buses from the cruise ships dumped 1000's of tourists and they plummeted on us like a wave on Curetes Street, the street that stretches from the Heracles Gate to the Celcus Library.  Time to go!

We headed away from the main site of Efes, down an old road, past more ruin to the ancient baths and church.

Baths of Varius

Currently still being excavated, the bath of Varius, dating to the Roman period.  The bath was first built during the Hellenistic age. It has been enlarged and refurbished during the Roman and Byzantine periods

Workers tend the fields amidst the Ionic and Corinthian columns that was once part of the majestic 1000 year old city of Ephesus.

Church of the Virgin Mary

The first Christian church ever built for Virgin Mary. Also the first Christian Council meeting about the role of Virgin Mary in Christianity was held in this building in 431 A.D.

While we were wandering through the Church grounds, an old lady approached us to buy "ancient" Greek coins. These did look authentic enough but I knew this was a common tourist scam. The coins aren't actually old, but they are made to look that way by being pounded to "antiquity," then passed through the intestines of a sheep or goat. A unique souvenir in it's own right I guess!

On our drive back to Selcuk, we passed a two-humped camel, a different species from what we had been seeing with the common one-humpers through the Red Sea.