Ephesus

The ancient city of Ephesus comprises successive Hatti, Hittite, Greek, Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine settlements founded on new locations, which followed the coastline as it retreated westward due to sedimentation within what was once the estuary of the River Kaystros. Excavations have revealed grand monuments of the Roman Imperial period including the Library of Celsus and the Great Theatre capable of holding 24,000 spectators. Little remains of the famous Temple of Artemis (completed around 550 BC), one of the “Seven Wonders of the Ancient World,” which drew pilgrims from all around the Mediterranean.

There are several legends regarding the founding of Ephesus. According to one legend, the city was founded in the 11th century BC by the Ionian prince Androclos. Another legend says that the city is named after Ephesia, the queen of the Amazons, a tribe of female warriors. The city was once one of the most important trading ports in Greece. It is also an important pilgrimage destination for Christians, as Ephesus is cited in the Book of Revelation as one of the seven churches of Asia, and was the site of several 5th century Christian Councils. Since the 5th century, the House of the Virgin Mary, a domed cruciform chapel five miles from Ephesus, has been a major place of Christian pilgrimage. The Virgin Mary is believed to have spent her last years here with Saint John, and the Gospel of Saint John may also have been written here.

Throughout its history, Ephesus has been ruled by several empires including the Lydians, Greeks, Persians, Romans, Goths, and finally the Ottomans, in the 15th century AD. By the end of the 15th century, the city was completely abandoned until archaeologists excavated its priceless ruins.


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