When people come to Turkey, many have one destination in mind – the Greco-Roman ruins of Ephesus, Turkey. This structure is legendary for its historical importance, and beauty.
From Kusadasi, we headed to Ephesus, which has been high on our list for years! Originally a Greek city, it later became a Roman outpost boasting nearly 300,000 inhabitants. This was one of the original 12 cities in the Ionian League during the Classical Greek period and was home to one of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World, the Temple of Artemis (since destroyed).
Ephesus also has an important role in the Bible because Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians was written to the inhabitants of the city and was delivered in the amphitheater that still stands.
We arrived here slightly later than expected (about 10:00 am) and the temperature was already climbing. We picked up our tickets and then headed into the archaeological site. We opted to use the upper entrance, and it made for an easier entrance but a long, hot walk out. We used our battery-powered fans left over from our Egypt trip (brought for just this occasion) and were the envy of the other tourists.
The first stop in Ephesus from the upper entrance is the Odeon and gymnasium, which looks like a small amphitheater. From there we walked down the Curetes Street seeing the smaller sites.
The highlight of Ephesus is the Roman Library of Celsus, an iconic, multi-story edifice that is strikingly beautiful. The library was built to honor the Roman Senator Tiberius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus and house the library of 12,000 scrolls. It is perhaps the finest library outside of Rome.
The Great Theater was under construction and was being renovated, so we couldn’t move down beyond the upper terraced level. It was a sight to behold – seating for over 24,000 and the largest amphitheater in the ancient world. It was a long walk from the Celsus library out to the theatre and anyone visiting in the summer months should be prepared for the heat.
On the way out, one hillside is all enclosed, and the houses (complete with many ancient frescos) are being renovated inside. The area is called The Terrace Houses or Hillside Houses and there is a supplemental admission to enter.
It was interesting to see how people lived at that time and we felt the Terrace Houses were worth it, although it was extremely hot in the buildings under the summer heat.
As the sun climbed high in the sky, temperatures soared and it was time to leave (or pass out from dehydration!). After extensively exploring the site for the better part of a day, it is easy to see how the complex has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its cultural importance.
Have you visited the ruins of Ephesus? What were your impressions?