Who You’ll Meet?

The story goes that around the 10th Century BCE, Androcles, son of Athens’s king, Kodros, was leading one of the migration convoys.  An oracle of Apollo predicted that a fish and a boar would show the location of a new settlement.  Soon after while Androcles was frying, a fish fell out of the pan and a startled boar hiding in the bushes ran. Androcles followed the boar and killed it. The location where the boar was killed, was where the city of Ephesus was established[1]

The Ephesians, of course! The population make up depended on when you went to visit the city. The five great empires – Greek, Persian, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman ruled over the city throughout its existence. Yet no matter how many times it changed hands, the city remained one of the vibrant metropolises of the ancient world. Individuals like Trajan, Hadrian, Mark Antony and Cleopatra were said to have visited Ephesus.[2]

The people who have been a lasting reason why Ephesus has remained such a popular place for tourism now were Paul, John and Mary the mother of Jesus –popular faces of early Christianity. The apostle Paul went to Ephesus on his third missionary tour. In chapter nineteen of the book of Acts in the bible, there is mention of Paul continuing on the road to Ephesus. This was Paul’s third missionary tour. John had established a group of believers but Paul helped it develop and grow.  There was resistance for the city was one of strong followers to Artemis. Paul continued to write to the church of Ephesus even in prison. The letters are kept in the bible as the book of Ephesians.The book is custom-made for what the early Christians of Ephesus needed to about their ways now that they were believers of the gospel.  As much to the norm, dramatic events happened  as Paul began a following—there was a riot. Demetrius, a follower of the Artemis cult, could not let the new ideas of the gospel rid Ephesus of their respect to Artemis.  His speech caused uproar and caused  merchants, who would sell outside  of the Temple of Artemis figurines, worry over the possible decline of business.  Paul left after this and moved on toward Macedonia. [3]

It is believed that the Mary, the mother of  Jesus, resided in Ephesus  with John who had took her under his care after the  crucifixion of  Jesus. The place she is believed to have resided is at  Bulbul Mountain.

How You’d Get There?

Ephesus was a port city along the Aegean coast; the best way to travel to Ephesus coming from Rome would be, without a doubt, by ship.[4] Approximately, the fastest route from Rome to Ephesus would take thirteen days—leaving Rome, from the Ostia/Portus harbor. The third day you would reach along the coastline of Sicily and, by the fifth day, sailing out Sicily from Portus Pachyni. The journey would then lead through open ocean for four days until you would reach Greek waters. Sailing along the Greek coastlines, starting from Tainaron Portus, Malea Portus, up to Isthmia, to Delos. Delos is a one day journey until reaching the port city of Ephesus. Today, Ephesus is located about six miles from the harbor. The port turned land had silted into a swampy terrain over the years. [5]

Why You’d Come Here?

The top most exciting and unique sites to see in Ephesus are: Temple of Artemis, Library of Celsus, House of Virgin Mary, and the Theater.                                                    


Model of Temple of Artemis  Istanbul, Turkey www.wikimedia.org

Model of Temple of Artemis
Istanbul, Turkey

The Temple of  Artemis

The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus is on the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It was made completely of marble. On  the night of the birth of Alexander the Great, the temple was set on fire by a man named Herostatus.[6] Herostatus did this so to fulfill his desire to be in the future.  Over time, the temple wend under reconstruction many times due to natural disasters—earthquakes—and being looted by Goths.  “The Ephesus Artemis was a goddess of fertility and was often pictured as draped with eggs or multiple breasts, symbols of fertility, from her waist to her shoulders.”[7] Christianity—Paul’s missionary work—led to the increased decline of Artemis worship. There was resistance but, Paul’s effort to spread Christianity won in the end.

Library of Celsus

The library was built in 117 A.D. It was a tomb for the governor Gaius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus; from his son Galius Julius Aquila.[8] The library could hold more than 10,000 scrolls. After Alexandra and Pergamum, the Celsus Library was the third richest of the ancient world. In honor of the virtues of Celsus, the statues in the columns symbolize wisdom, knowledge, intelligence, and valor.[9]

House of Virgin Mary

It is believed that Mary, mother of Jesus, resided near Ephesus at Bulbul Mountains for the later years of her life. The house was ruined by earthquakes but is renovated and recognized as a shrine of the Virgin Mary.  It is a place of importance for both Christians and Muslims, who pray to her, because of the role Mary played in the life of Jesus. [10]

Shrine of Virgin Mary www.wikipedia.org

Shrine of Virgin Mary

Theater at Ephesus

Such a site to see! The Theater at Ephesus where Paul is believed to speak of the new religion of Christianity.  It is as well where the riot between Artemis cult worshipers rioted against Paul spreading Christianity to the Ephesians.  The theater can seat 25,000 individuals.

Fun Fact: The Theatre of Ephesus can seat more individuals than the AT&T center[11]

Theater in Ephesus www.wikimedia.org

Theater in Ephesus

What was it Like?  

“All the streets of Ephesus were illuminated at night with oil lamps, this shows us the richness of the city.”[12] As previously mentioned, Ephesus was a vibrant city. It was one of the trade centers of the ancient world. With a population approximately made of 250,000, it could have been the fourth largest city of its time after Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch.  It was a city significant enough for Paul to be able to convert many to Christianity. Today, the Ephesus ruins are preserved enough to give a tourist a sense of what it could have been like to live in Roman times.

Fun Fact: The first advertisement  directing the way to the brothel is in Ephesus on Marbel Street.

[1] “Ephesus History”, Ephesus.us

[2]  Ephesus, Ephesus.us

[3] The Apostle Paul,” AllAboutTurkey.com

[4]  Route information made possible through Orbis (orbis.stanford.edu)

[5] Mosquitoes became more popular and epidemics of malaria overwhelmed the population.

[6] The roof of the temple was made of wood.

[7]  This was differenct from the commonly known attributes of Artemis  http://www.unmuseum.org/ephesus.htm

[8] Celsus was buried under the ground floor of the library

[9] The entrance of the library had a statue of Athena, the goddess of wisdom.

[11]  The AT&T Center can has a capacity of 18,500 seats

[12]  Burak Sansal : www.allaboutturkey.com


Ephesus.OTTI Travel Company,2013.W eb. 26 April 2013.

Kyrstek, Lee. “Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, The.” The Museum of Unnatural Mystery. n.p.,2010 Web. 28 April 2013.

North,Stafford.” Ephesus.” Oklahoma Christian Univeristy. n.p., 2013. Web. 26 April 2013.

Sansal, Burak. All About Turkey:With Tour Guide Burak Sansal, 2011. Web. 22 April 2013.

Scheidel, W. & Meeks, E. (May 2, 2012). ORBIS: The Stanford Geospatial Network Model of the Roman World. 08 May, 2013,

Starkweather, Helen. “Exploring Ancient Ephesus.” Smithsonian Magazine. Smithsonian Media, Jan 2008. Web 26 April 2013.

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