The ancient city of Ephesus, one of the seven ancient wonders of the world, is rich in Roman and Greek history. The most incredible thing about this visit was that I had the place practically to myself. Friction between Turkey and other countries, as well as fear, have kept the visitors away. To me, this is one of the best times to visit because there are no crowds and you meet the most avid travelers.

History of Ancient Ephesus

Columns Adjoining the Lower Agora in Ancient Ephesus Turkey

Columns Adjoining the Lower Agora in the Ancient City Ephesus

The ancient city of Ephesus was controlled by the Greeks during the 10th century BC, but the Romans took control of the city in 129 BC. At its peak in Roman times, more than 50,000 people lived in the ancient city. Many ruins that you will see at Ephesus were built during the Roman times such as the Temple of Artemis, the Temple of Hadrian, the Library of Celsius.

 

Photo of Amphitheater Ephesus Turkey

Ephesus Theater Was Capable of Holding More than 25,000 People

One of the most impressive sites that still remains mostly intact is the Ephesus amphitheater. This arena could hold up to 25,000 spectators and was used for gladiator shows.

Celsus Library of Ephesus Turkey

Celsus Library at Ephesus

Temple of Hadrian at Ancient Ephesus

Temple of Hadrian at Ancient Ephesus

Remains of Temple of Diana

A Bit Apart From the Main Ephesus Complex is All That Remains of Artemis Temple

From 1304 to 1425, the city of Ephesus was part of the Ottoman Empire. It was during this time that the Isa Bey Mosque was built which still stands today.

Isa Bey Mosque Near Ephesus Turkey

Isa Bey Mosque Near Ephesus

Christianity has also played a major role in Ephesus’ history. It is said that Paul the apostle lived in Ephesus for two years and wrote 1 Corinthians while imprisoned in a tower close to the harbor. The apostle John apparently wrote the Gospel of John here between 90 to 100 AD.

Basilica of Saint John at Ephesus, Turkey

Basilica of Saint John at Ephesus, Turkey

Many Catholics believe that the Virgin Mary spent the last years of her life in Ephesus. The House of the Virgin Mary is a popular pilgrimage destination for Catholics and has been visited by three popes.

The Saint Mary's House in Ephesus Turkey

The Virgin Mary’s House Near Ephesus

Other important sites worth seeing at Ephesus, Turkey include the Temple of the Sebastoi, the Basilica of St John and the tomb of John the Apostle.

Church of Saint Mary at Ephesus Turkey

Church of Saint Mary at Ephesus

Where is Ephesus?

Ancient Ephesus was a Greek city on the Ionian coast of Turkey, three kilometers southwest of the present-day city of Selçuk in Izmir Province.

How to get to Ephesus

The easiest to get to Ephesus is to book a tour through your hotel or guesthouse. Or like I did, you can rent a car and drive yourself. It’s well signposted and easy to park.

Alternatively, if you prefer public transportation, from Izmir or Kusadasi, take a bus to Selcuk. Once in Selcuk, there are minibusses from there which will take you to the entrance of Ephesus.

See also:

(I spent one night in Kusadasi, Turkey which is a more of a scruffy British holiday than a genuine Turkish experience, and quickly moved on the Selcuk, Turkey. Selcuk is much more enjoyable and closer to the ruins.)

If coming from Istanbul, there are plenty of flights to Izmir, Turkey which takes one hour. It’s also possible to take a bus from Istanbul to Izmir but allow at least ten hours.

Odeon Theatre of Ancient Ephesus Turkey

Odeon Theatre of Ancient Ephesus

How Much is the Entrance Fee for the Ruins of Ephesus?

Adult 40 Turkish Lira
Children under 12 free

Opening Hours for Ephesus

Open daily.
April to October 08:00 – 19:00
November to March 08:00 – 17:00

The Extra Fee to See the Ephesus Terraced Houses is Well Worth It and Give You a Feel of Roman Life

The Extra Fee to See the Ephesus Terraced Houses is Well Worth It and Give You a Feeel of ROman Life

When is the best time to visit Ephesus?

You can visit Ephesus any time during the year but bear in mind, summers can be very hot, and winters can be very cold. Best time to visit would be springtime during April and May or late autumn, in October and November.

Top Tips for visiting Ephesus, Turkey

  • Although the day I visited was very quiet, Ephesus can get busy. If you want to escape the heat and the crowds, but still experience Ephesus, head to the fascinating Ephesus Archaeological Museum which features many well-preserved artifacts.
  • Wear comfortable shoes.
  • Bring water.
  • If you are traveling independently, arrive early before the tour buses arrive.
  • Don’t rush, take your time.
  • Take lots of photos.
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