The ancient Ephesus is now an entire archaeological site which is still being excavated. It is a great open-air museum, with streets and ruins of all kind of buildings that reveal the ancient splendor of the city.
A stay of two nights is the minimum time to visit Ephesus, Selcuk and some parts of Kusadasi. We suggest also on your way through the region, stopping in Izmir, Turkey’s third largest city. On the other hand, if you travel on a cruise, the best option, according to the time available, is to take one of our tours to Ephesus and its surroundings, with private transportation and guide.
Archaeological Site of Ephesus
The Magnesia Gate: There were three entrances to Ephesus: The Magnesia Gate (on the way to the House of the Virgin Mary), Koressos Gate (in the back of the stage) and the Harbor.
East Gymnasium: Located north of the Magnesia Gate, this building was actually a complex of baths and a gymnasium built approximately in the second century A.D.
The “Tomb of St. Luke”: This site refers to the Apostle and Evangelist Luke, the author of the Gospel of Luke and a companion of the apostle Paul (Philippians 1:24, 2 Timothy 4:10-11). It is a symbolical grave to the apostle.
Roman Baths: In ancient Ephesus there were several Roman baths, with magnificent buildings and specialized rooms playing a key role in the social life of the city, like the Baths of Varius, the Baths of Scholastica, the Baths of Constantine and the Baths in the East Gymnasium.
The State Agora: South of the Basilica you will find the State Agora, built by the Romans in the first century B.C. This place was not used for trade, but rather for business, while playing an important role as a meeting center for government discussions.
The fountain of Laecanius Bassus (Hydrekdocheion): In the southwest corner of the State Agora were found the remains of a water reservoir that, according to an old inscription on it, was commissioned by Gaius Laecanius Bassus, from 80 to 82 A.D.
The Odeon: This building is shaped like a small theater, with a stage, orchestra seats, and with a dual function. It was first used as Bouleterion for Boulea meetings or Senate and also used as a concert hall.
The Prytaneion: Behind the Basilica is the Prytaneion, where religious ceremonies, official receptions and banquets took place. A sacred flame symbolizing the heart of Ephesus, remained permanent here.
Domitian Temple: Located at the southern end of Domitian Street, it is the first structure in Ephesus dedicated to an emperor. It was built on a large terrace and over vaulted foundations of 50 x 100 meters.
The Memmius Monument: This monument is located on the north side of the Domitian Square. It was built during the reign of Augustus in the first century A.D., by Memmius, the grandson of the dictator Sulla.
Heracles Gate: Located at the end of the Curetes Street, is known as the Gate of Heracles because the reliefs of the hero in it. It was brought from elsewhere, in the fourth century A.D., although its reliefs date back to the second century A.D.
Curetes Street: It is one of the three main streets of Ephesus and extends from Heracles Gate to the Celsius Library. This street is named because of the priests, to whom the people started calling “Curetes”.
The Fountain of Trajan: Built around the year 104, it is one of the most important monuments of Ephesus. It was built in honor of Emperor Trajan, so his statue appeared in the central niche of the facade, overlooking the pool.
The Terrace Houses: The Terrace Houses of Ephesus are located in front of the hill, opposite to the Temple of Hadrian. Also known as the “houses of the rich”, they were built according to the Hippodamian Plan (by Hippodamius of Miletus) of the city
The Temple of Hadrian: Hadrian’s Temple was built around the year 130, in honor of the emperor. Corinthian style, consisted of a cellar and a porch (pronaos). The front porch had a fronton supported by two pillars and two columns, including a bow in the center.
The Octagon, Tomb of Ptolemy Arsinoe IV: The Octagon was a burial chamber dome on a rectangular base, containing the body of a woman of 15 or 16 years old, in a marble sarcophagus. According to interpretations it is a monument and tomb of Ptolemy Arsinoe IV, the younger sister of the famous queen Cleopatra.
The Brothel: A peristyle house at the corner of Curetes Street and Marble Road has been identified as a brothel, because in the excavations it was found a statue of Priapus with a large phallus. This statue is exhibited in the Ephesus Museum.
The Library of Celsus: it was completed in the 135th, by order of Gaius Julius Aquila, who dedicated this site to the memory of his father Gaius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus, the proconsul of the Asian province, who was buried here in a marbled tomb inside a burial chamber with a special permit requested by his son, as such burial was against Roman rules.
The Gate of Mazeus and Mithridates: The three crossing ways door, to the right of the Celsus Library was built in 40 A.D. by the slaves Mazeus and Mitridíates for their emperor, Augustus, who gave them freedom.
The Commercial Agora: What would be the most important commercial center of Ephesus, was built in the third century B.C., in the Hellenistic period, but the ruins date from the region of Caracalla, between the 211 and the 217.
Serapis Temple: This temple located in the Commercial Agora was built by Egyptian traders, near the East Gate. You can also access the temple by the south-west corner of the Agora through stairs.
The Marble Road: this name was given to the way among the Grand Theatre and the Library of Celsus and is part of the sacred way of Panayirdagi, leading to the Temple of Artemis.
The Great Theatre of Ephesus: The Theater is one of the most impressive buildings in Ephesus. Originally it was a Hellenistic theater, later restored, adapted and expanded by the Romans in the first century A.D., reaching its current capacity of 25 000 people.
The Arcadian Way: This Street runs from the Harbor Baths to the Grand Theatre. Entering the port, traders and sailors were arriving to the city through this way, so it had a gorgeous design, with marble slabs and colonnades.
The Church of Mary, the double churches: This Roman building dating from the second century A.D., was also known as the “Hall of the Muses”.
The Stadium: The stadium is located south of Vedius Gymnasium. The seats of the spectators in the south were built on the slopes of Mount Pion and in the northern part over the vaulted galleries.
The Vedius Gymnasium: If you enter the city from its southern part, this gym will be among your first visits. Its construction dates from around the second century A.D., by Publio Vedio Antonino and his wife Flavia Papiana.
Ephesus surrounding areas
Temple of Artemis: Located on the hill of Ayasuluk there was the Temple of Artemis, or Artemision, which was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, although from some excavations its location is presumed to have being in different places.
The house of Virgin Mary: Today it is a fact that the Virgin Mary went to Ephesus and lived there for some time, being this place or not her final resting place.
Saint John Basilica: In his crucifixion, Jesus asked his beloved disciple John to care for his mother, so that after the death of Jesus John brought the Virgin Mary to Ephesus and settled there. John was martyred under the reign of Emperor Trajan.
Sirince village: This Orthodox town, pretty old and away from Ephesus, was formerly Cirkince (ugly), name given by the inhabitants to keep away foreigners and outsiders from their surroundings.
The Hellenistic city wall: The Hellenistic wall of at least 9 miles long, was built under the reign of Lysimachus, in the third century B.C. Today more than three kilometers remain very well preserved in the Mount Bulbul and the road to the House of the Virgin Mary.
Selcuk: Selcuk is a central town of Selçuk district, province of Izmir, 2 miles northeast of the archaeological site of the ancient city of Ephesus.
Kusadasi: Kusadasi is a resort town on the Turkish Aegean coast, the center of the seaside district of the same name, belonging to the province of Aydın.
Adaland Waterpark: According to journals and specialized publications, this amazing water park is among the best ten in the world and certainly the first in Europe.
Izmir (Smyrna): third largest city of Turkey, called the Pearl of the Aegean, has been planned in such a way that despite its size it has managed to avoid the chaotic environment of metropolises.