Selcuk Things to Do

  • Selcuk - Pillar of Artemis
    Selcuk - Pillar of Artemis
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    Byzantine aqueduct
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Most Recent Things to Do in Selcuk

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    Ephesus Museum

    by solopes Updated Aug 31, 2012

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    Sel��uk - Turkey
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    The best pieces in Ephesus were removed, and are now displayed in this museum.

    It's easy and quick to visit, located in a nice area of the city, being include in the packages from the harbour of Kusadasi when coming from Greece.

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    FORT

    by mtncorg Written Jun 9, 2012

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    Looking to the fort from the Basilica of St John
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    Atop Ayasoluk Hill above Selçuk is a large fort that originated as a 6th Century Byzantine fort. The Selçuks extended the fort when they took over. It is not open to the public, but the flag and Atatürk were on fine display the day I was there in honor of May 19 – commemoration of Atatürk’s beginning of the national liberation at Samsun in 1919.

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    MERYEMANA

    by mtncorg Written Jun 9, 2012

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    Maryemana - chapel on old house site
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    Legend has the Apostle John bringing Mary, the mother of Jesus, along with him to Ephesus – Jesus consigned her to John’s care at his crucifixion – John 19: 26-27. She is said to have died about 54. The small stone chapel here is built over the house where the Virgin Mary is thought to have lived out her days here. Most of the building – a red line around the walls separates original from the newer reconstruction in the 19th Century – is thought to be 6th or 7th Century but the foundations could go back as far as the 1st.

    The house was discovered in a dream by a German nun, Anne Catherine Emmerich, in 1812. Emmerich was an invalid who never left Germany, but an account of her vision was published. A visiting French priest found this place – it was a site for local Orthodox pilgrims – and follow up visits from Catholic clergy decided that this must truly be the house. Restored in 1891, the house is a sacred site for both Christians and Muslims. A spring bubbling from water running under the house produces holy water from a fountain below. There is a large prayer wall for those seeking Mary’s intercession next to the fountain.

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    EPHESUS MUSEUM

    by mtncorg Written Jun 9, 2012

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    Remains of statue of Domitian or Titus
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    The museum is downhill from the Basilica of St John in the heart of Selçuk. Many of the statues recovered in and around the area are here on display. One room features pieces of various monumental fountains found in Ephesus. I found the most fascinating exhibits to include the massive sculpture recovered from the Temple of Domitian – either Domitian or Titus – as well as the frieze removed from the “Temple of Hadrian” – there is a plaster copy in place on site – which shows the mythical Amazonian founding of Ephesus. And, of course, the two large statues of Artemis – one is 1st Century and the other is 2nd –complete with a blouse of bull testicles advertising fertility. Altogether, a fine place to further bring together all the sites of Ephesus.

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    BASILICA OF ST JOHN

    by mtncorg Written Jun 9, 2012

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    Looking towards the grave of St John
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    Built in the 6th Century during the reign of Justinian by the same architect who did the Haghia Sophia, Isidore of Miletus, the basilica is built over the supposed grave of St John. Of course that brings up two things. First, who was john? Christian leaders considered John the Evangelist, John of Patmos and the Beloved Disciple all to be the same person. He was the author of the Gospel of John which Church leaders said he wrote when they asked him for a work to counter various Jewish Christian groups a certain proto-Gnostics like Cerinthus at the end of the 1st Century. Modern scholars think differently, however. The Gospel of John is thought to actually have been a collaborative effort which evolved with time until its final form at the end of the 1st or early 2nd Century.

    Legend and tradition have John bringing Mary, the mother of Jesus, to Ephesus after Jesus’ death with Mary dying about 54. John continued to preach and it was this that was supposed to have gotten him to be banished to the island of Patmos at sometime during the reign of Domitian where he wrote the Book of Revelation. With the emperor’s death, John returned to Ephesus training Polycarp – who trained Irenaeus, in turn – to become the bishop of Ephesus after him. Then, at age 98, he died preaching still to his flock.

    Second, who is buried in his tomb? The belief that the tomb on Ayasoluk Hill, in Selçuk, was John’s dates back to the 300’s – it was marked by a modest church at that time. With the building of the basilica, the site became one of the most sacred medieval sites in Christianity. John was considered to not actually dead but only sleeping. Dust that stirred up around the altar at his grave became holy – mana, good for all sorts of cures – and the dust was collected in flasks for the many pilgrims to carry home. The tomb is now empty as it has been for centuries.

    The church was magnificent in its day – if restored today; it would be the seventh largest in the world. Some of the foundations and marble walls have been partially reconstructed to give visitors an idea of the former glories of the ancient cathedral. On the north side of the church is a large octagonal baptistery from which new converts could proceed in communion with those inside the cathedral.

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    TEMPLE OF DOMITIAN

    by mtncorg Written Jun 9, 2012

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    Arcades in the back of the Temple of Domitian
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    Here is the Imperial cult on full display. Sited on the west side of the political agora, the remnants of this large temple have been found. There is not much left since the building and much of its adornments were stripped for re-use over the ensuing years. The temple was erected it was initially thought for the Emperor Domitian – 81-96 – the last of the Flavians. Pieces of a large statue – now in the nearby Ephesus Museum – were recovered including a head and an arm were thought to be Domitian but now may actually be his predecessor and brother, Titus – 79-81. Epigraphic evidence points to the dedication of the temple to Domitian and his wife Domitia coinciding with the awarding of the title of neokoros on the city. This title was accorded by the Roman Senate to cities regarded as being worthy of being custodians of the ceremonial worship of Rome and the emperor. After Domitian’s assassination, inscriptions relating to Domitian were erased as a result of the damnation memoriae proscribed by the Senate – relations between Domitian and the Senate had always been poor, just read Suetonius. Domitian is one of only three emperors to have suffered such an ignominious posthumous fate – the others were Geta, Elagabalus and Maximinian. The Senate had wanted to do the same to Caligula’s memory but were thwarted by Claudius. After proscription by the Senate, the Temple was made into a temple to Vespasian and the Flavian family as a whole. By allowing the condemnation and by refusing to deify Domitian – normal practice for a late emperor – his successor, Nerva, ran afoul of the legions whom thought well of all of the Flavians – they did not read Suetonius. Nerva was kidnapped and forced to hand over the murders of Domitian and to publicly read a note thanking them for forcing his hand.

    The temple was later used possibly a part of the Byzantine fortification system, similar to what happened to the Theater.

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    TERRACE HOUSES

    by mtncorg Written Jun 9, 2012

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    Terrace House 2 under cover once again
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    Rising up from the Curetes Street near its end at the Celsus Library is a complex- Terrace House 2 - of some six residential homes. These were homes for very wealthy families dating back to the 1st Century BC. They were used as residences through the 7th Century CE though earthquakes in the late 3rd Century left several significant sections severely damaged. After the houses were first discovered in 1960 – and there are many more still covered on the slopes above – it took 30 years to erect a structure to cover and protect the ruins. Excavatory work is ongoing within the houses stabilizing rooms, preserving frescoes and mosaics and rebuilding fallen structures here and there. An elaborate walking system crisscrosses through and over the various houses with good signage to explain the different sights and the ongoing work. These excavations are conducted by the Austrian Archaeological Institute who have been hard at work here in Ephesus since 1895. There is an extra charge to visit the Terrace Houses. Some 1.5 million visitors file through Ephesus every year with 90,000 paying the extra to climb up the stairs. Terrace House 1 on the east side is still open to the elements, in contrast.

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    CITY WALLS

    by mtncorg Written Jun 9, 2012

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    City walls snaking along the crest of the hill
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    The walls of Ephesus date to the 3rd Century BC and wee at least 9 km long. More than 3 km are still present along Bulbuldağ rising to the south of the city. You can observe the walls probably best from the road that leads up to Meryemana. Our guide noted that he has walked the walls and it certainly looked like an interesting outing. You probably have to skirt a few sections and it goes without saying to take along water and choose a cool day – there is no shade, so August would be very brutal.

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    HARBOR STREET

    by mtncorg Written Jun 9, 2012

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    Swamps where the great harbor once was
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    Also known as the Arcadian Street since its present look comes from a restoration that took place during the reign of the Emperor Arcadius – 395-408 CE. The street was probably the main avenue of the city, dating back to Greek times and leading from the city harbor and the theater/commercial agora. Water and sewer channels ran under its marble flagstones. It was also one of the few cities in the ancient world that was lit at night – 50 streetlights were among the colonnades.

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    GATE OF MAZEUS AND MITHRIDATES

    by mtncorg Written Jun 9, 2012

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    Triple arches of Gateway of Mazeus and Mitridates
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    The large triumphal archway to the right side of the Library of Celsus leading on to the commercial agora dates to 40 CE. Augustus is honored as “the Son of God, greatest of Priests, Consul 12 times and Tribune 20 times” atop the western arch while his right-hand man Marcus Agrippa is honored on the eastern arch. The gate was built by Mazeus and Mithridates, two slaves who had been freed by Octavian/Augustus. There is some interesting graffiti inside the eastern arch noting a particular penalty for those who tried to use the throughway as a urinal. Reconstruction of the gate was completed in 1988.

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    THEATER

    by mtncorg Written Jun 9, 2012

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    In the theater of Ephesus
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    The old Greek theater which dated to about 200 BC was vastly expanded upon and modified during Roman times. The theater seats 25,000 though I have also seen figures of 40,000. Most of the reconstruction took place in the 1st Century. The theater was badly damaged by a 4th Century earthquake. It is currently undergoing major renovations to stabilize and to reopen it for cultural events - it should hold somewhere in the vicinity of 6-8,000 when completed. Finish date is tentatively set for 2018. Paul traditionally preached against paganism as well as the site here and it was the site of a riot of silversmiths who thought Paul’s entreaties were bad for business – the little silver figurines of Artemis they created for visitors.

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    LIBRARY OF CELSUS

    by mtncorg Written Jun 9, 2012

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    Library of Celsus and Gate of Mazeus/Mithridates
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    The library was built between 110 and 135 CE by Gaius Julius Aquila, the Roman governor, in honor of his father Julius Celsus Polemaenus who had also served as a Roman governor here. Celsus was buried beneath the library at the back. Some 12,000 scrolls were said to be have stored here at the library. Facing east, the reading rooms thus could best use the morning light. Fire destroyed the reading rooms after only a couple centuries and an earthquake brought down the front façade in the 10th Century. The Austrian Archaeological Institute rebuilt the library to its present state between 1970 and 1975. The four statues in front represent the four virtues – Wisdom, Knowledge, Destiny and Intelligence. The originals have been removed for safekeeping to the Ephesus Museum in Vienna.

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    CAVE OF ST PAUL

    by mtncorg Written Jun 9, 2012

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    Paul and Theoklia holding forth in front of Thecla
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    John Dominic Crossan refers to this as the Cave of Thecla. Dating as a sacred site to the 1st or 2nd Century, the cave was decorated with frescoes from the 6th to 11th Centuries. Rediscovered in 1906 by the Austrian excavators, the frescoes were found underlying plaster on the cave walls. There is a 15 meter long corridor that leads back into a small sanctuary buried deep within a mountain. On the right hand side are 6th Century frescoes showing Paul, Thecla and her mother, Theoklia. It is the only known depiction of Paul here at Ephesus. As well, it is the earliest known appearance of Paul and Thecla together. The cave is generally not open to the public, but when you pay the big bucks and know the right people ….

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    ARTEMSION – TEMPLE OF ARTEMIS

    by mtncorg Written Jun 9, 2012

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    The single column of the Artemision standing
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    Only a single column of the original 127 still stands from the Wonder of the Ancient World. It was four times as large as the Parthenon with a huge cult statue of Artemis at its center. The original temple was built around 650 BC as the Anatolian Mother Goddess Cybele transformed herself into Artemis, virginal huntress and twin of Apollo. Splendor, treasure and pilgrims soon followed only to have the temple burnt by a fame-seeking arsonist in 356 BC. Legend has it that the day of the arson was the same day as the birth of Alexander the Great. Plutarch has Artemis too preoccupied with that auspicious birth to be able to save her temple. On his way through Asia Minor, Alexander offered to rebuild the temple, but the townspeople refused his help saying it was not right for one god to build a temple to another. Eventually, rebuilt, it was partly destroyed again by invading Goths in 263 CE. Reconstructed one more time, the temple quickly lapsed into insignificance with the onset of official Christianity, becoming a marble quarry for new buildings by the end of the 4th Century.

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    Seven Sleepers Cafes

    by toosahn Written Feb 8, 2012

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    One of my favorite things to do when I lived in Selcuk was to go to the cafe in front of the Seven Sleepers Grotto and sit Turkish style on the cushions and just read and enjoy the afternoon. They serve beer, Turkish tea of course, juices, andthey have a pretty good menu, but not the cheapest. The gözleme, a thin pancake-like (not a crepe!) bread stuffed with savory goodness of your choice, is one of the best around. I love the potato and cheese myself. They sometimes have music at night and in winter, one section is enclosed and has a fireplace. This is a great place to go alone or with a group, service is exellent, and the menu is in English, as is the service.

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