On the western coast of Turkey, Ephesus has some of the Mediterranean’s best-preserved, grandest ruins. As a major port for trade routes to Asia it grew from a coastal town in the 10th century BC to the second largest city in the world. A series of rulers over the years left their mark – from the Greeks and Romans to the Byzantines and Ottomans. But when its port silted up, Ephesus was abandoned and fell into ruins. It was rediscovered in 1863 by a British archaeologist and it’s been excavated ever since, but still only 15% of the whole site has been uncovered so far. You can still get a good idea of its scale though as you wander through a mix of ruined temples, colonnaded streets and theatres.
History comes to life all around you as you stand in the amphitheatre where St Paul preached in Biblical times or follow in the footsteps of Alexander the Great and Cleopatra along the Arcadian Way. The city’s most famous building was the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, but that’s long been destroyed. The centrepoint today is the two-storey Celcus Library – as impressive now as back when it was one of the ancient world’s largest libraries, filled with 12,000 scrolls.
Ephesus is near Selçuk in Western Turkey, between the resorts of Izmir and Bodrum, and around 12 miles from the cruise port of Kusadasi. Entry costs 40 Turkish Lira (£8.50), plus an extra 15 Lira (£3) for the Terrace Houses. The site is open 8am–7.30pm from mid-March to late October and until 5.30pm off-season.
I visited Ephesus on a Celebrity Cruises ‘Discovery Walk in Ephesus’ shore excursion on their Venice to Istanbul cruise. Many thanks to Celebrity for hosting us. All views and opinions are, as always, my own.