Ancient City of Ephesus Travel blog 2023
This blog is the second part of another blog. We recommend you to read the first part and then this one. you can reach the first part of the Ephesus Ancient City blog.
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After visiting the Ephesus Museum, we headed directly towards the Ephesus archaeological site(Ephesus Ancient City), Izmir. However, this was a mistake for us because the distance between the Ephesus Museum and St. John’s Church and Ayasuluk Castle is approximately 1 km. As a writer, my advice would be to visit these places before heading towards ancient city of Ephesus. Therefore, I will tell you about our trip in the order that you should visit these places.
St. John Church and Ayasuluk Castle
After leaving the Ephesus Museum, you will immediately see the signs for St. John’s Church and Ayasuluk Castle. You can walk there, as we did. Actually, you will probably come here during the summer season. Therefore, if you come early in the morning, there will be places where you can park your car near the church. Since we visited the ancient city of Ephesus before, we had a cold coffee at the café across from the church before entering the church. If you are curious about the history of St. John’s Church, you can access the article we wrote about its history through this link.
At the entrance of St. John’s Church, there are ticket booths. If you have a museum card, you can enter directly. If you want to learn about the entrance fees, you can visit our blog post about the Ephesus Museum, where QR codes containing the prices of all museums are available.
After entering the church, you will immediately see the ancient ruins on your right. After passing the ruins, you will come across a large garden, from which you can see the entire Selcuk city. A little further on, you will see column fragments on the ground. If you examine them closely, you can see the engravings, cross details, and other symbols on them. After passing these column fragments, you will be greeted by the entrance you see in the picture below. These doors lead to the baptismal pool in the middle of the church. I recommend entering the narrower areas while exploring the central part because you can see small processed tomb-like structures or cover-like structures on the ground. I will also include a picture of this.
The View From The Church
After leaving the center of the church, as soon as you move to the left, I think you will be fascinated by the view when you reach the balcony where you can see the city. We couldn’t get enough of it. People don’t often realize it, but from that balcony, there is one of the most famous places of the ancient world that you might miss if you don’t pay attention. From this balcony, you can directly see the Artemis Temple, or at least its remains.
After enjoying the view from the balcony, there is a road leading up to Ayasuluk Castle on the upper side, but we couldn’t visit the castle due to maintenance, so I cannot provide detailed information about the inside of the castle.
However, we took a picture containing information about the castle, which we can share with you. If you visit Ayasuluk Castle before us, you can leave your comments in the comment section. If you want to write a blog instead of comments, you can reach us via the contact section. You can read our blog about Ayasuluk’s History.
The temple of Artemis
On the road leading to the ancient city of Ephesus, you will see a running path on your right side. If you’re driving your own car, please slow down. Soon, you will see a sign for the Artemis Temple. There is a small entrance from the main road, and you will enter through a gate that may seem neglected for unknown reasons. Once you enter through the gate, you will see a large parking area, but it may not be considered large enough during the summer season. After leaving your car, do not miss the Ottoman-era tomb located within the temple grounds. It is an old structure worth seeing, although it may not have been extensively restored. Nevertheless, it holds history.
As I was reading about the history of the Temple of Artemis, I saw that it had been exposed to earthquakes, attacks, or wars for centuries. I read that the temple itself no longer exists, and only its ruins are present. To be honest, I didn’t think there would be so many ruins when they said “ruins”.
The ruins of the ancient city of Ephesus have become a perfect city even after restoration. If you imagine every ancient ruin like the Ephesus ruins, you may be disappointed. Once you enter the Artemis Temple area, the first thing that will catch your attention is the view you see from St. John’s Church. The view from this temple is also equally beautiful. When you look across from the Artemis Temple area, you can see the Isa Bey Mosque, St. John’s Church, and Ayasuluk Castle in the same frame, one after the other.
There is actually only one restored column in the Artemis Temple area. When we examine the old drawings, we understand that this column was the only column of the temple. When you see the size of the column, you can’t help but imagine the temple in its original state before it was destroyed. If you want to read about the history of the Temple of Artemis, you can click here to access our article.
Wandering Among The Ruins of The Temple of Artemis
Examining the remains of the Artemis Temple was quite enjoyable because you could discover a different detail in each column piece. We believe that there are still parts underground that have not yet come to light, but we couldn’t find out why they haven’t been excavated. The standing column, in fact, has not survived to the present day. It is a restored structure made up of extracted ruins.
When you look closely, you can see the cement-like material used in the restoration in some places. It is a beautiful open space to take photos. When we went in March, there were grassy areas on the ground, and it wasn’t hot. If you go in the summer months, you definitely need to bring a hat or sun umbrella. Unfortunately, the wooded area is insufficient for the summer months. After taking our photos, we are now heading towards the main target, the ancient city of Ephesus.
The Road to Ephesus Ancient city
After leaving the Artemis temple, our journey to ancient city Ephesus didn’t take long. The distance between the entrance of Ephesus and the temple is about 2.5 kilometers. Before reaching the entrance area, you will see two signs on the left-hand side indicating the way to the House of the Virgin Mary and the Seven Sleepers Cave. Our recommendation is to visit Ephesus first and then go to those places, which is what we did.
Entering The Parking Area
At the end of the road, we arrived at the entrance of the parking area. The parking fee is 50 Turkish Lira for regular cars. If you are a motorcycle rider, you only need to pay 15 Lira. The parking area is quite spacious and you will see that I’m not exaggerating when you look at its panoramic photo.
When you proceed from the parking area and turn right, you will see the toilets. The price for the toilet was 5 Turkish liras in March 2023, and they were clean and well-maintained. Since the ancient city is very large, it is recommended to visit the toilet before starting the tour.
What to Know and What to Take with You Before Going to ancient city of Ephesus?
It is worth mentioning that the entrance fees for the site are the same as other historical sites, and you will not have to pay separate fees for each one except for some specific places. We recommend that you bring a backpack with at least two bottles of water and a power bank if you plan to take photos. There are two places inside where you can buy drinks: one is at the city’s other exit, and the other is about 1 km after the entrance.
As you pass the parking lot, you will see shops lined up on both sides. These shops offer souvenirs, clothing, bags, and food options. You can buy gifts for your loved ones from here when you return home. Remember that bargaining is always possible in Turkey when it comes to prices.
The Ancient City of Ephesus Entrance
After passing through the gates of the ancient city of Ephesus, you will be greeted by a stone path lined with tall pine trees on both sides. On your right, you can see the maps of Ephesus. I will attach a photo of one of them to this message for you.
As you begin to walk, you will immediately see the ruins of the Theater Gymnasium on your left side. We couldn’t enter that area due to restoration work, but it may be open during your visit. Even if it’s not, it’s still at a close enough distance for you to observe.
After walking for about 10 meters, you will see the tombs in a small area on your left side. You can approach and examine them in detail. I’m sure you’ll take some beautiful photos that we would be happy to publish on our site.
Unfortunately, visitors tend to go directly to the most famous places because of the heat. However, if you take the path next to the tombs, it will lead you directly to the ruins of the House of the Virgin Mary. As you progress towards the ruins, you will see old objects waiting to be excavated on either side of the road.
The Church of Virgin Mary in ancient city of Ephesus
At first glance, the church appears to be on the verge of collapse due to the heat. However, as you move inside the church, it becomes clear that the restoration work has strengthened the structure. Once inside, the main structure of the church is immediately visible on your left. The ceremonial section of the church, along with the cross on the wall, is still standing and the columns in this area are still intact. All of them are beautiful enough to adorn your photos.
There is a small marble baptismal pool right across from the church’s ceremony area. There are many historical artifacts around this pool. As you continue, you will come across a massive ancient gate. After passing through this gate, it is believed that you will enter a section of the church’s interior. Since the ceiling parts of the church have collapsed, it is difficult to make strong assumptions. However, you can see many small rooms. Visiting the Church of Mary will take about 15 minutes in total. If you take detailed photos, this time may extend to half an hour.
You will see the sign for this area, but you won’t be able to visit as access is restricted due to ongoing restoration work. It’s said that work is still underway in these areas.
Unfortunately, you’ll only be able to see the part of Harbor Street that leads to the ancient theater. As for the part that leads to the ancient harbor, you can only take photos from a distance. We’ve taken them for you 🙂 you can read about the history of the harbor gymnasium.
Ephesus Ancient Greek Theater
As you start to climb up from the harbor street, a huge ancient theater comes into view. As you all know, this is the Ancient Greek Theater of Ephesus. You can click on this link to access historical details. Everyone feels like rushing up to the theater, but don’t be in a hurry. It would not be right to leave without seeing the historic fountain right next to the theater. If you want to access the historical information of this theater, you can click here.
Approximately 30 steps will be in front of us. If you want, you can directly enter the theater from here. However, our recommendation is for you to use the stage entrance where both the theater actors and gladiators used to enter the stage, so that you can feel yourself in the old times. This entrance is located just to the right before climbing the mentioned stairs. You can find this entrance with a quick glance. I have taken a video for you and will add it below this paragraph. While watching the video, imagine how people used to enter the stage in the past.
If you enter the theater from this area, you will notice that the size of the space is enormous even compared to current theaters. Almost 90% of this area is accessible. Be very careful when climbing the stairs, as the marble can become even more slippery over time and may cause injuries.
When you reach the top of the stairs, if you lift your head a little and look across, you can see the ancient port area which is closed. The view here is really captivating. I spent about 10 minutes sitting on the theater stairs, thinking about what the people in the past did and how they felt here.
The Marble Street of Ephesus Ancient City
The Marble Street is the road that leads from the ancient Greek theater to the Celsus Library. When you come out onto this street, you will see the polished stones on both sides of the road. If you look carefully, you can see the inscriptions on many of them. I remember thinking while walking around, wishing I could understand what they say.
There is an inconspicuous figure on the Marble Street. On a stone here, a woman’s left foot and a heart symbol are engraved. These symbols indicate the brothel that is located directly opposite the library at the end of the road. We knew that there were figures on the walls of the brothel, but they have all been taken and moved to museums. If interested, you can read our post about the history of marble street.
The Library of Celsus
At the end of the Marble Street and to your right, you will come across the Celsus Library. When it suddenly appears in front of you at the end of the road, you will be enchanted. This library was one of the most famous libraries of ancient times. Scientists and philosophers used to come here frequently to exchange ideas and have discussions. The library was built by the son of Tiberius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus in his honor.
The library was truly huge in ancient times, but it was destroyed after the city lost its ancient power. As a result, a large part of the library is not present today.
However, the restoration work has been very successful, and the front of the library has been almost completely completed. By the way, I would like to add that I think the part that descends to the library is an empty room, or maybe there are water channels passing through it. I couldn’t find out the exact truth. Also, don’t forget to pet the cat :).
After passing through the library entrance, you will see that the names of the people who carried out the restoration work are written on the walls in both German and Turkish. If interested, you can read our post about the history of Celsus Library
State of Agora in Ephesus Ancient City
There are entrance gates to the agora marketplace immediately to the right of the Celsus Library. According to my tour guide, these gates were a gift from freed slaves to the emperor. Although they are overshadowed by the library, the gates are quite magnificent. After passing through the gates, you will find yourself in a very spacious area.
There used to be shops on the left side, and if you examine them closely, you might be able to guess what type of shop each one was based on the particular decorations on their doors. In the center, there are 6-7 large trees. If you visit in the middle of summer, you’ll want to rest under the shade of these trees. Don’t forget to make a note of this! If you’re interested in the history of this area, you can click here to read our article.
A Short Break
I assume that you have arrived during the summer season and I’m sure that the heat of the Aegean region has already roasted you. Therefore, even though there is not much shade, there is a small coffee shop before you go from the library to the Crutes street. You might want to take advantage of it.
Crutes Street of Ephesus Ancient City
I assume you have arrived during the summer season and have already been scorched by the heat of the Aegean region. Therefore, before heading towards Crutes Street from the library, there is a small coffee shop that you may want to check out, even though it may not offer much shade.
On Crutes Street, you will see terrace houses, the Hadrian monument, and the Traiani Fountain. You can visit these places in order, but the important thing to remember is not to forget to examine the mosaics on the ground while admiring the beauty of these structures. There are also rooms behind the Hadrian monument that you can explore, and we recommend that you take a look at the inconspicuous statues there.
Next up is the Traiani Fountain, which was apparently a meeting point for people at the time, as it is still a meeting point in every city today. This seemed silly to me at first, but according to the documents that archaeologists have uncovered, people did indeed gather here. Although researching this fact may not have much meaning, if I were living in those times, I would still meet at the fountain 🙂
The most important feature of Crutes Street is actually that it used to be a shopping center. There were shops selling wine, household items, and food along the sides of the structure. Although visiting here during the summer season may be difficult, it will help you visualize the crowds of those days. If you would like to read about the history of this street, you can click here to access our relevant article.
The Temple of Domitian
This temple was built in honor of the Roman emperor Domitian, who ruled from AD 81-96. Online images related to this place were very limited in scope. Therefore, when I arrived here, I didn’t expect to see such a wide area and other things besides the temple. There are areas to explore behind the temple. Although Ephesus is a large ancient city, I believe its beauty lies in the details. Keep your eyes peeled at all times, you will see interesting symbols on walls, on the ground, or even under a cat. If interested, you can read our post about history of Domitian Temple.
After this temple, your path will split in two. We chose to explore the back of the city from the temple. As you climb this straight road, you will see a small amphitheater in the distance to your left. There is not much to catch the eye as you follow the path, but the path itself is really beautiful.
Towards the end of this road, you will see the city’s water reservoir on the right. There was nothing to stop us, but we did not want to disrespect the historical artifacts by climbing on them. Unlike the other structures in the city, we did not see any symbols on this reservoir.
Ephesus Odeon Theater
This theater was built during the 2nd century AD and was primarily used for musical performances, speeches, and council meetings. It was rebuilt in the 4th century AD, as like many other ancient structures, it had suffered damage from wars and earthquakes. Unlike the Great Greek Theater, you can examine this theater in detail. I have a video of the entrance for you but I will post it on our instagram page.
With this ancient theater, we have finished exploring at least the public areas of the ancient city of Ephesus. Of course, the city is not that small. The city walls are located around the mountain, but almost 90% of the walls have not survived to the present day.
Since we parked our car at the entrance parking lot, we walked around the entire city again to get back to our car. I can offer you an alternative for this. After parking your car, you can take one of the horse-drawn carriages (fayton) to the other gate of the city. This way, you can also examine the city walls. However, this would mean that you would have to move in the opposite direction of our tour. Also, there is debate among animal lovers whether these carriages are cruel to the horses that pull them. The decision is yours. 🙂
The Cave of Seven Sleepers
After leaving the parking lot, you will see the sign for the Seven Sleepers Cave. If you want to know its history, you can click here to reach our article. The road will take about 5 minutes, but be careful while driving because the way is unfortunately very narrow.
We entered the street as soon as we saw a small sign. At first, we thought it was someone else’s garden, but since the visiting season was not fully open yet, we mistook the under-construction restaurant for a house. If we talk about March 2023, we didn’t have much trouble finding a parking area, but finding a parking spot during the season can be a nightmare.
After parking our car under a tree, we walked on a path filled with pebbles. Don’t be fooled by the term “path,” it didn’t take long, a maximum of 2 minutes. Even though I am a travel writer, after taking photos and videos of the Ephesus Museum and the ancient city, I was a bit tired. After the dirt area, you will come across a wishing tree.
People who come here write their wishes on a paper and hang them on this tree. It would be good to decide on what you want to wish for before coming here because you won’t have much time to think.
After passing the wishing tree about 30-35 meters, you will see an entrance on the left. When we first saw it, we got excited, but unfortunately, visitors cannot see beyond a certain point since the entrance is closed with iron gates. However, you can still have an idea of the details from the outside.
The History Behind The Fence
After seeing this place, I had lost my hope. Later, I saw a trail that went upwards. The view that greets you after climbing the trail will make up for all the heat. Although we can’t go inside, you can still see all the living areas in front of the cave and the cave itself. Of course, it’s not as beautiful as exploring inside. Authorities have banned entry because the areas where visitors step on have been damaged. After taking our photos, we left the area to go to the house of Mother Mary. If interested, you can read our post about the history of seven sleepers.
The House of Virgin Mary
The House of Mother Mary is approximately 8 kilometers away. The road is quite winding and located among the trees. Before arriving at the House of Mother Mary, you will see the statue of Mother Mary. Since there is a huge mountain behind it, the view is perfect. We went there around 5:00 p.m. You can see in the photos how the sun shining behind the statue creates a beautiful image.
At the entrance of the House of Mother Mary, you will come across barriers. After paying the entrance fee, we parked our car in the parking lot. After passing by the shops and cafes, the first place you will come across is the Baptistery. There are many seats around the place where the pool is located for monthly ceremonies.
Although the lower half of the house is original, the rest of it has been restored by the church. After passing through an iron gate, we took our candles and went to the place where the statue of Mother Mary is located. Considering that this is a temple, we recommend that you be quiet. If interested, you can read our post about The church of Virgin Mary’s history.
Holy Water and Wishing Wall.
After taking a sip from the metal taps, you can make your wish. According to legend, each tap offers a different wish, usually related to health, money, and love. It’s not written which tap corresponds to which wish, but your wish will find you. When you reach the Wishing Wall, you can write your wish on a tissue and hang it on the wall. Since you’ve come this far, it would be a shame not to do it.
The Way Back to Home from Ephesus Ancient City
Visiting all the places mentioned in the first part of our article took us a total of 9 hours, without even finding time to eat. As writers, our first recommendation is to spend 2 days in the city of Selcuk. On the first day, you can visit the Ephesus Museum, St. John’s Church, and Ayasuluk Castle until noon.
In the afternoon, you can go to the Şirince district, which we haven’t even written about yet, and enjoy the area. If you choose to stay in a hotel there, you can have a peaceful evening after tasting wine at the local shops in the evening, and then you can visit the ancient city of Ephesus with less fatigue. It was a great pleasure for us to visit these places. We are happy to help you by indicating what you should and should not do in our article. See you on our next trip. Goodbye!
How to Get to The Ancient City of Ephesus from Different Destinations?
How to Get to The Ancient City of Ephesus from Izmir?
The Ancient City of Ephesus is located about 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Izmir in western Turkey. Here are a few ways to get there from Izmir:
By Car: You can rent a car or take a taxi from Izmir to Ephesus. The journey takes about an hour and a half, and there is ample parking available near the ancient site. If you want to go there by your own car, here is the link of the route from Izmir to Ephesus.
By Bus: There are regular buses from Izmir to Selcuk, the town closest to Ephesus. The journey takes about an hour, and there are frequent departures throughout the day. From Selcuk, you can take a short shuttle bus or a taxi to the ancient city of Ephesus.
By Train: You can take the train from Izmir to Selcuk, which takes about an hour and a half. Trains run regularly throughout the day, and the station in Selcuk is just a short distance from the ancient city of Ephesus.
By Private Tour: There are many private tours available from Izmir that will take you directly to Ephesus. These tours typically include transportation, a guide, and entrance to the ancient site.
How to Get to The Ancient City of Ephesus from Marmaris?
The Ancient City of Ephesus is located about 190 kilometers (118 miles) north of Marmaris on the western coast of Turkey. Here are a few ways to get there from Marmaris:
By Car: You can rent a car or take a taxi from Marmaris to Ephesus. The journey takes about three hours and there is ample parking available near the ancient site. If you want to go there by your own car, here is the link of the route from Marmaris to Ephesus.
By Bus: There are regular buses from Marmaris to Selcuk, the town closest to Ephesus. The journey takes about five hours, and there are frequent departures throughout the day. From Selcuk, you can take a short shuttle bus or a taxi to the ancient city of Ephesus.
By Private Tour: There are many private tours available from Marmaris that will take you directly to Ephesus. These tours typically include transportation, a guide, and entrance to the ancient site.
How to Get to The Ancient City of Ephesus from Antalya?
The Ancient City of Ephesus is located about 470 kilometers (292 miles) north of Antalya on the western coast of Turkey. Here are a few ways to get there from Antalya:
By Car: You can rent a car or take a taxi from Antalya to Ephesus. The journey takes about six and a half hours and there is ample parking available near the ancient site. If you want to go there by your own car, here is the link of the route from Antalya to Ephesus.
By Bus: There are regular buses from Antalya to Selcuk, the town closest to Ephesus. The journey takes about eight hours, and there are frequent departures throughout the day. From Selcuk, you can take a short shuttle bus or a taxi to the ancient city of Ephesus.
By Plane: You can take a flight from Antalya to Izmir, which takes about an hour. From the airport in Izmir, you can take a bus or train to Selcuk and then take a shuttle bus or a taxi to the ancient city of Ephesus.
By Private Tour: There are many private tours available from Antalya that will take you directly to Ephesus. These tours typically include transportation, a guide, and entrance to the ancient site.
How to Get to The Ancient City of Ephesus from Dalaman and Dalaman Airport?
The Ancient City of Ephesus is located about 270 kilometers (168 miles) north of Dalaman on the western coast of Turkey. Here are a few ways to get there from Dalaman:
By Car: You can rent a car or take a taxi from Dalaman to Ephesus. The journey takes about four and a half hours and there is ample parking available near the ancient site. If you want to go there by your own car, here is the link of the route from Dalaman to Ephesus.
By Bus: There are regular buses from Dalaman to Selcuk, the town closest to Ephesus. The journey takes about six hours, and there are frequent departures throughout the day. From Selcuk, you can take a short shuttle bus or a taxi to the ancient city of Ephesus.
By Plane and Train: You can take a flight from Dalaman to Izmir, which takes about an hour. From the airport in Izmir, you can take a train to Selcuk, which takes about an hour and a half. From Selcuk, you can take a shuttle bus or a taxi to the ancient city of Ephesus.