The findings obtained in this region where the native people, namely the Lelegs and the Carians have lived since the beginning, indicate that the city is dated back to 2000 years B.C. As far as the years of 1000 are concerned, it is assumed that the Ions came to this region, lead by Androckles. Ephesus was captured by the Kimmers (Cimmerians) in the 7th century B.C., by the Lydians in 560, and later in 546 B.C. by the Persians; and was rescued from the Persian domination when Alexander the Great defeated the Persians in 334 B.C.
Lysimachos, a commander of Alexander's, had the settlement removed from the whereabouts of the Temple of Artemis to the zone between the Mount of Panayir and the Mount of Bülbül, and had a wall built around the city. The city was taken by the Kingdom of Pergamon after 190 B.C., by Rome in 133 B.C., and later by Byzantium, Ephesus maintained its importance during the period of Christianity, and the apostle St. Paul arrived there during the years of 50 A.D. It is also a known fact that St. John was buried on the hill of Ayasuluk (Selcuk, near Izmir) at the beginning of the 2nd century. Ephesus lived through its third glorious period during the reign of Justinianus in the middle of the 6th century A.D. and, at this time, the Church of St. John was built on the hill of Ayasuluk by the Byzantine emperor.
The ruins of Ephesus, situated near Selcuk, are centers of interest owing to the ancient remains that are still existent. When you enter through the Magnesia Gate from above you see the State Agora (or Upper Agora). The Temple of Isis is situated at the center of the Agora, and Stoa is placed on the North side of it. The Odeon (Bouletarion or Parliament) with a capacity of 1400 persons is placed behind it and the Prytaneion (Town Hall) where the sacred fire used to burn, is on its flank. The Baths of Varius are placed on the east side of Odeon. On the west of the Agora, the Monument of Memmius built in the 1st c BC., the fountain of C. Sextilius Pollio built in the year 93 A.D., and the Temple of Domitian (81-93 A.D) are placed. On the south of the Agora, the fountain of Laecanius Bassus is situated. The Curettes street starts downwards from the Temple of Memmius. The Gate of Heracles (Hercules) is placed on this avenue. After passing through this part, the fountain of Trajan built in the years 102-114 is seen on the right hand side and after this, the Temple of Hadrian appears in front of us, in all its splendid beauty (117-138 A.D). The Scholastica Baths, built in the 4th century A.D., are situated behind the Temple of Hadrian. The houses of the rich people of Ephesus which were in front of it, have been restored and opened for visits at present with special permits.
At the corner formed by the Curettes street and the Marble Road, the House of Love (Pornaion or Brothel) is placed and the Library of Celsus, restored and reestablished in recent years, stands right in front of this. The library which had been built in the name of proconsul Gaius Celsus completed in the year 135 A.D. by his son Tiberius Giulius Aquila, is entered by way of a stairway, 21 m in width and having 9 steps. The southeastern gate of the Trade Agora opens to the Library of Celsus. Emperor Augustus' slaves, Mazaeus and Mithridates, liberated by him had this gate built in the year 1st c.A.D.; it comprises three sections and has been restored today. The Corinthian columns of the Stoa encircling the Trade Agora with the dimensions 110 x 110 m, are standing erect today. The Temple of Serapis built in the period of Antonine (138-192 A.D.) is placed behind the Trade Agora.
One of the magnificent buildings of Ephesus is the theater, largest in Asia Minor, which had a capacity of 24.000+ people and is in a rather well preserved condition. The construction had started during the Hellenistic period but it could only be completed during the time of Trajan (98-117 A.D.). Festivals are celebrated in this theater today. St. Paul was dragged into this theater to face the crowed, but rescued by the security corps of the city.
The Port Avenue extends in front of the theater. The avenue is 11 m wide and 600 m long, and it has been called Arcadian Street because it was renewed during the time of Arcadius. All the streets of Ephesus were illuminated at night with oil lamps, this shows us the richness of the city. On the whole north side of the avenue, there are the Harbour Gymnasium, baths and the Theater Gymnasium. The avenue that passes along the front of the theater, extends towards the Stadium built during the Neron period (54-68 A.D.) and towards the Vedius Gymnasium. The Church of the Virgin Mary built at the beginning of the 4th century A.D. is situated behind the Port Gymnasium before the exit. This was also the meeting place of the 3rd Ecumenical Council.
The Temple of Artemis is also one of the places to visit in Ephesus besides the Church of St. John. The Temple of Artemis, which had been built at first during the Archaic period (8th c. B.C.), was one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world later during the Hellenistic period and, in the year 356 B.C. when Alexander the Great was born, it was destroyed by a lunatic called Herostatus who always wanted to be remembered in the future (and he succeeded) and was reconstructed by the people of Ephesus. It has 127 ionic columns and its dimensions are 55 x 115 m. Some of the bases of the columns of the temple are ornamented with raised relief design. Today two marble statues of the goddess Artemis can be seen in the nearby museum. Some other friezes are in British Museum in London.
On Bulbul Dag (Nightingale mountain) there is the House of the Virgin where it's believed that she passed last years of her life and died. Virgin Mary came to Ephesus together with St. John and taken up to Panaghia Kapulu mountain to survive the Roman persecutions. The House was destroyed by many earthquakes and not discovered until 1951 thanks to a German Nun Catherine Emmerich who saw its location in her visions. It is recognized as a shrine by Vatican. Now the House of Virgin Mary is renovated by George Outman Foundation from Ohio and serves as a small church which attracts many Christians as well as Muslims coming to pray for Her. The Mass is held here every weekday and Saturdays at 07.15 and Sundays at 10.30 AM. On 15th August 2000 there was a great ceremony for the Assumption of the Virgin.
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