If you are planning to travel in the Aegean Turkey region, you should include some Ephesus tours in your itinerary. Being one of the most well preserved marble ruins in Turkey, Ephesus is also one of Turkey’s major tourist attractions. It is located 4KM from the nearest town Selcuk and you can follow a good walking path or bike there from Selcuk. Otherwise, hop on a minibus called Dolmus from Selcuk bus station or Kusadasi which will drop you 1KM away from the lower gate situated downhill close to the Great Theatre. It should cost you around 20 Turkish Liras,
The Ancient City of Ephesus
Ephesus is the second largest ancient city of the world where over 200,000 people inhabited over 3000 years ago. It is also a nicely preserved ancient capital of Roman Asia that has a 25,000 seats great theatre.
During ancient time, Ephesus was developed into a port on the mouth of river Cayster. Ephesus quickly became the most important commercial centre of western Anatolia thanks to its strategic trade route in Anatolia and it also became one of the most important cities in the world.
Today, you could walk around the city itself by foot and the ruins can be found on the other side of a fertile valley. The ancient ruins include the theatre, library and gymnasium, making it a great “centre” throughout the ages. From a trade centre of the ancient world, to a religious centre of early Christianity and today, a unique tourism centre.
The Temple of Artemis
The ancient city of Ephesus is famous for its Temple of Artemis, which is also recognized as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Unfortunately, this entirely marble made and fully sculptured columns capitals and shafts temple of the Hellenistic age was badly destroyed in the 5th century but impressive ruins are still visible.
Fortunately, you can still find in the London British Museum some most beautiful remaining of this temple. It exhibits the oldest remaining relics from the 6th century BC, surrounded with 36 huge columns. This was later enlarged under the orders of Kreisos, the Lydian King of the 6th century BC.
The Isabey Mosque
The mosque was constructed between the years of 1374 and 1375 and is one of the most delicate examples of Seljukian architecture. The Isabey Mosque is situated below the Basilica of Saint John and was built by master builder Ali, son of Mushimish al-Damishki.
The beautiful doorway is decorated with an inscription from the God with Seljukian architecture style crown-like doors that opens up to the entire Mosque decorated lately with elements from the Ottoman’s period. The marvelous atmosphere of the Mosque can be credited to its beautiful marble workmanship of glazed mosaics and plant motifs.
The House of Virgin Mary
It is believed that this is where Virgin Mary spent the remainder of her life and is today a popular place of pilgrimage for the Catholics. Due to its location on the top of Bulbul Mountain, it can offer visitors a wonderful panoramic view over the town.
The Travertines of Pamukkale
If you are in Ephesus, never miss the trip to Pamukkale, or vice versa. Located around 200KM east of Ephesus and accessible by bus from Selcuk bus station. Pamukkale or popularly known as the “cotton castle” got its name from the dazzling white calcite white cliffs created by calcium deposits from nearby hot springs.
These calcium deposits flows and accumulates on the steep slopes, which slowly fans out and forming beautiful natural terraces. You need to be barefooted to walk on these blinding white travertines, walking from the base all the way up the cliff ridges, it’s like slowly conquering a bizarre natural fortress. You could also sit in or relax in the terraces that hold pools of cooling water. Nothing feels better than this in the summer.
The Ruins of Hierapolis
Pamukkale and Hierapolis tour could be done at the same time, as the Hierapolis Ruins are reachable by foot. Located at the summit of Pamukkale hill, the remains of a grand colonnaded street that runs 1KM parallel to the travertines, extending between the necropolis to the north and the byzantine church to the south.
The most spectacular site is the mighty Hierapolis Theatre located on the slope above the rest of the other Hierapolis ruins. This incredibly well preserved theater was built during the reigns of the Roman Emperors Hadrian and Septimus Severus. Today you can still see much of its original details with its facade over 100 meters long and two tiers of seating, each with 26 rows.