Ephesus – a bit of history and a practical guide

ephesus

Ephesus is one of the oldest cities in the world. The city was once considered the most important Greek city and the most important trading center in the Mediterranean region.  It was built in the 10th century BC on the site of the former Arzawan capital, which, we believe was built in the Second Millenium BC. Throughout history, Ephesus survived multiple attacks and changed hands many times between conquerors. Only once the Ottomans conquered those regions it began to collapse and in the XVI century, nobody lived here anymore. Nowadays we can visit the ruins of this once glorious city. Here’s how to visit Ephesus.

The impressive ancient theater can be seen in the center of Ephesus. It still stands and it could hold up to 25 000 people at once. The main street connected the port directly with the Theater, which means that it had to be a few kilometers long. I could imagine Cleopatra and Marc Anthony arriving to the city with their ships and parading on this column – lined avenue. It must have been glorious!

The famous Library of Celsus (at least the facade) is still standing and attracts a lot of tourists every year. Ephesus was also home to one of the seven wonders of the Ancient World – the Temple of Artemis. Today, unfortunately, the temple is in ruins. We can only observe one column, that was reconstructed. The temple fell on the day of the birth of Alexander the Great. It was believed that Arthemis “assisted” his birth, therefore was not able to protect her temple.

visit ephesus
The Library of Celsus
ephesus library of Celsus
The Library of Celsus

Ephesus has a lot of connections to the Bible, it is mentioned in the Holy Book of Christians many times. It is also believed that the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, lived and died here, as well as Saint John, an important Saint for Christians and one of the twelve apostles, the followers of Jesus.

visit ephesus

How to visit

It is fairly easy to visit on a day trip from Izmir. The city of Selcuk, which is the modern city right next to the ruins of Ephesus, is well connected by bus and train. The train leaves every hour from the Basmane train station in Izmir, the ticket is 8 TL. There are also regular minibusses connecting the main bus station in Izmir to Selcuk. You will need to take a bus number 302 to the bus terminal, then the minibus which costs 17 TL. It’s needless to say that the train is a better choice.

From Selcuk bus station, minibusses run every 20 minutes to the entrance of Ephesus. The ticket costs 4 TL. The entrance to the Archeological site is 100 TL and, if you wish, the audioguide is extra, 45 TL. I, myself downloaded some podcasts about the city and was listening to them while walking around.

Take a lot of water, it can get crazy hot over here. A hat and good walking shoes are a good idea as well. To visit Ephesus and walk around the whole area you will need around 2-3 hours, so you can arrive in the late afternoon, after the midday heat. The better choice if to come early in the morning, there will be less people and it’s not so warm.

Spend a night in Selcuk

Even though it’s an easy day trip from Izmir, if you are planning a further trip to Pamukkale, it might be a good idea to arrive in the evening and spend the night in Selcuk. This way you can visit Ephesus early, before the heat kicks in. Selcuk has a pretty small city center, but you will find everything you need. It’s filled with bars and restaurants and has a very well equipped supermarket as well as a daily local Market with fresh fruit and vegetables.

Where to stay in Selcuk

I can definitely recommend the Hotel Nicea. It’s very central, very clean, very comfortable. The people there are absolutely lovely and the price is right 😉 It was 9 euro for a female dorm with breakfast. I had a very nice evening with the guys that are running the place, such a positive vibe!

hotel nicea
Our delicious Aperitivo at Hotel Nicea

Where to eat in Selcuk

The town is not big, but to me this is perfect. It means that you can find some amazing local eats. I recommend Alibaba and Mehmet Kebab House. Family run, lovely people, and delicious, fresh food. Try the stuffed aubergine and their mezze.

food selcuk
Stuffed aubergine and pilav rice

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Pamukkale – all you need to know before you visit

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