The extensive work of historians and archaeologists over many centuries has given our generation, impressive landmarks to visit across the world. On the Aegean Coast of Turkey, near the popular coastal resort of Kusadasi, sits one of them, the ancient ruins of Ephesus.
It still portrays magnificence. It still leaves people speechless. It still shows evidence of the forward thinking, intelligence, and confidence of the former Roman Empire. The ancient ruins of Ephesus should be on everyone’s bucket list, whether you have a passion for history or not.
The city had a long Greek history, but it was under Roman rule that it excelled. The Romans absorbed many traditions, cultural aspects, and philosophical ideas from ancient Greece. As visitors these days, walk around the excavated and reconstructed structures, it is easy to connect the dots. The ancient ruins of Ephesus portray perfectly how Romans lived their lives, from the water aqueducts, terraced houses, and public latrines, used by the wealthy and influential citizens of society.
Ancient Ruins of Ephesus, Christian History, & the New Testament
Roman rule contributed towards the fame and significance of Ephesus, but it had just as much importance in Christianity. In the early days of the religion, many citizens turned to Christianity resulting in persecution. They met in secret, encouraged by the presence of Saint John and Saint Paul.
Many historians believe Saint John wrote his Gospel while in Ephesus, and when the Virgin Mary was dying, he took her to the green hills of Selcuk, above Ephesus and laid her to rest. Although unverified, her shrine is under the watchful eye of the Roman Catholic Church. It receives hundreds of visitors daily. Ephesus was also one of the seven churches mentioned in the book of revelations, in the New Testament of the Bible, which stated that it had forgotten its first love.
Grand Theatre of Ancient Ephesus
Probably its most famous event though was the Artemis riots that took place in the Grand Theatre. In the early days of Christianity, many people that had not converted were still worshipping gods of which one of them was Artemis, the goddess of fertility.
Demetrius was a silversmith who sold figures of the goddess but because of Saint Paul’s preaching’s, his sales were diminishing. He managed to incite a crowd who gathered in the theatre demanding recognition of Artemis. Friends of Saint Paul begged him not to appear in front of the crowd since they were in no mood to listen. Thankfully, an intelligent city clerk calmed them down and urged them to follow the law by protesting to the courts of the city.
Roman Terrace Houses of the Ancient Ruins of Ephesus
Although the ancient ruins of Ephesus have many historical landmarks to boast about, one of the highlighted and most celebrated of recent years is the Roman terrace houses. Sitting on the slopes of the Bulbul Mountain, they belonged to wealthy citizens who used slaves to clean, maintain and organise order of their immaculate houses. The interior floor and wall mosaics are why they have taken centre stage. Intricately preserved, they are marvellous artefacts depicting how the rich people lived at that time.
The Celsus Library
Sitting at the end of the main street, the majestic Celsus library was previously one of the three largest libraries in the ancient world. Holding up to 12,000 scrolls, it was a pinnacle point in the social life of philosophers and creative artisans.
Built in honour of the Roman senator of the same name, his tomb was previously underneath. It is because of extensive restoration work that took place for 8 years in the 70s that we are able to see the front façade of the library because an earthquake in the 3rd century demolished it to the ground.
Other Places to See at the Ancient Ruins of Ephesus
As well as the landmarks mentioned above, other places to see sit outside the main boundaries of the ruined city. They include the Basilica of Saint John in Selcuk, the ruined Artemis Temple, and the Ephesus museum holding many artefacts. Also worth visiting is the Virgin Mary house that many people believe is where she spent her last days. Our tours of the ancient ruins of Ephesus visit these and other celebrated places in the Kusadasi and Selcuk region.