Hmmmmm was how I went after visiting here. Here, is meant to be the last abode of the Virgin Mary who St John brought to nearby Ephesus towards the end of her life (AD 37-45). This small building has been reconstructed but is said to date back to the 6th - 7th centuries, with parts of the foundation and coal found on the site dated to the 1st century. It has since been turned into a chapel with the restored portion being distinguished from the original remains of the structure by a line painted in red.
The building was only 'discovered' in 1881 when a French priest, Abbé Julien Gouyet of Paris, discovered a small stone building on a mountain overlooking the Aegean Sea. He believed it was the house where the Virgin Mary had lived in the final years of her life on earth as described in the visions of a German nun named Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774-1824), but his discovery wasn't taken seriously. Ten years later, two Lazarist missionaries from Smyrna rediscovered the building and learned that the four-walled, roofless ruin had been venerated for a long time by the members of a distant mountain village who were descended from the Christians of Ephesus. They called it Panaya Kapulu ("Chapel of the Most Holy") and believed that the Virgin Mary had died there. Every year they made a pilgrimage to the site on August 15th, the date on which most of the Christian world celebrated Mary's Assumption.
Since then, the Roman Catholic Church has never pronounced on the authenticity of the house, for lack of scientifically acceptable evidence. However, three popes have visited the site with Pope Paul V1 'unofficially' confirming its authenticity in 1967. Pope John Paul II visited in 1979 and more recently Pope Benedict XVI in 2006. Whatever you believe, I was a little sceptical and just thought I had been had, given the high cost of entry. By the way, coming back down the hill offers some superb views of Selcuk and some of Ephesus.
Open: 8am-7pm. Admission: TL12.50.
The ancient city of Ephesus is the main reason for coming to Selcuk. Located about 3km west of the town, it was, for many years, the second largest city of the Roman Empire; ranking behind Rome, the empire's capital. Ephesus had a population of more than 250,000 in the 1st century BC, which also made it the second largest city in the world.
It dates back to around 1000 BC when it was known as Apasas during the Hittite period and became a major sea port where migrants from Greece began to live. It then moved to the surroundings of the Temple of Artemis, just outside Selcuk, around 550 BC which was said to be the largest temple in the world, eclipsing even the Parthenon at Athens and making it the Seventh Wonder of the World. However, today’s Ephesus was established in 300 BC by Lysimakhos, one of the generals of Alexander the Great. Under the Romans, Ephesus became the Roman provincial capital of this part of Asia and it blossomed into what is left today - one of the best-preserved classical cities of the eastern Mediterranean. But the port silted up during Byzantine times and the people of Ephesus were forced to move to a new settlement further inland which is now modern day Selcuk.
The Romans left behind a legacy of fine buildings including the massive 24,000 capacity Theatre which is believed to be the largest outdoor theatre in the ancient world; and the Library of Celsus, which has become a symbol of the tourist industry. If you like ancient ruined city's then there's not many that are better in the world than Ephesus. More can be found on my Ephesus page below:
Open: 8am-5pm Oct-Apr, 8am-7pm May-Sep. Admission: TL20.
The Temple of Artemis lies just off the road that leads to Ephesus, to the west of Selcuk but all that remains of the once described Seventh Wonder of the World is a single column capped with a stork's nest. It was originally built around 550 BC and was said to be the largest temple in the world, eclipsing even the Parthenon at Athens, with some 127, each 17.5 meters high.
The temple was dedicated to Artemis, a Greek Goddess, the virginal huntress and twin of Apollo, who supplanted the Titan Selene as goddess of the Moon. The statue of the multi-breasted Artemis was the symbol of the temple but also of abundance, hunting and wildlife. The genuine statue of Artemis was removed during a fire and is today exhibited in the Ephesus Museum in Selcuk. Many copies of this statue found during the latest excavations date back from the Roman period. The temple itself was rebuilt several times following fires and earthquakes but then destroyed during a raid by the Goths in AD 262. Over the course of the fourth century, all temples were declared closed by Theodosius I in 391. In 401, the temple in its last version was finally destroyed by a mob led by St. John Chrysostom, and the stones were used in construction of other buildings. Some of the columns in the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul originally belonged to the Temple of Artemis.
This is another small mosque that was built in the 14th century. It's located along the main road in front of a fountain where two pedestrian shopping streets head into the main restaurant and shopping part of the town.
This monument to the War of Independence can be found in the town centre near the train station. It's a bit strange and resembles the head of Ataturk lying on its back with a set of portraits of farmers, soldiers and such like along the sides and on the ground in an opening within the monument. It was made by the sculptor Mehmet Aksoy in '99 or 2000.
There are two Islamic tombs located either side of the main road by the junction where the road heads towards Ephesus (near the bus station). Like many of the town’s mosques, they probably date from the 14th century but I don't know for sure.
This hall has one of the icons of the town in the form of the multi-breasted Artemis that once adorned the Temple of Artemis. In fact there's two of them in this hall along with a scale model of how the temple would have once looked (all that exists today is a single column).
This hall is full of statues, busts and friezes with highlights including the original friezes of the Temple of Hadrian, statues of Augustus and his wife Livia, fragments of a once 7-metre high statue of Emperor Domitian, and some fragments of the Parthian Monument.
This section of the museum is located on the left after you buy your ticket. It's dedicated to the finds that were found during the excavations at the Terrace Houses in Ephesus and the majority of which belong to the Roman period. On the left are the plans and excavation photographs of the houses as well as the statues of Asclepius, the God of Medicine and his daughter Hygieia. There are also busts of Emperor Marcus Aurelius and the heads of Priapos, the God of Fertility, Bes, Emperor Tiberius and Livia. There's also an interior house scene with wall frescoes, statues and a mosaic.
With the epic remains of Ephesus just a few kilometres down the road, Selcuk, unsurprisingly, has a top-notch museum dedicated to not only Ephesus but to the sites in the town such as the Basilica of St John and the Byzantine Aqueduct. The museum is different from other museums as it's not designed according to chronological order but to rooms with a theme. For example the rooms are called Terrace Houses & Hall of House Finds, The Hall of The Fountain Relics, The Hall of The Funerary Relics, The Hall of Emperor Cults & Portraits, The Hall of Artemis, The Gladiators Section etc. There's also a courtyard which exhibits sarcophagi, capitals and marble blocks recovered from Ephesus and the Artemision that were used in the pillars of the aqueduct. There's some top exhibits here which make it an unmissable stop before heading to Ephesus.
The Isa Bey Mosque is one of the most delicate examples of Seljukian architecture, situated below the Basilica of Saint John. The mosque was built by the master Syrian architecture Ali son of Mushimish al-Damishki, between the years of 1374 and 1375.
The mosque was styled asymmetrically unlike the traditional style, the location of the windows, doors and domes were not matched, purposely. The rims of its domes (of diameters 9.4m and 8.1m) are decorated with Iznik tiles. 12 round columns from Ephesus stand inside its courtyard encircled with porches. Its brick minaret is built on an octagonal base, and the upper part from the balcony is ruined. The mosque had another minaret on the west, which is totally destroyed now. The mihrab (niche or altar) was moved to another mosque.
Three hundred years after the death of St. John, a small chapel was constructed over the spot that is believed to be his grave in the 4th century. The, then, Church of St John was changed into a marvellous basilica during the reign of Emperor Justinian (527-565 AD). Raised by two steps and covered with marble, the tomb of St John was under the central dome, that was once carried by the four columns at the corners. The columns in the courtyard reveal the monograms of Emperor Justinian and his wife Theodora.
It is believed that the evangelist St. John had spent his last years in the region around Ephesus and buried in the southern slope of Ayasuluk Hill. Three hundred years after the death of St. John, a small chapel was constructed over the grave in the 4th century. The church of St John was changed into a marvellous basilica during the reign of Emperor Justinian (527-565 AD). The monumental basilica was in the shape of a cross and was covered with six domes. Its construction, being of stone and brick, is an extremely rare find amongst the architecture of its time. Raised by two steps and covered with marble, the tomb of St John was under the central dome, that was once carried by the four columns at the corners. The columns in the courtyard reveal the monograms of Emperor Justinian and his wife Theodora. Constructed in the 5th century AD, the baptistery to the north of the nave, has a key hole shape. Rampart walls around the church were constructed for protection from the Arabian attracts in the 7th and 8th centuries. The impressive 10th century AD frescoes representing St John, Jesus and a Saint, are located in a small chapel treasury. With the invasion of the Turks, the chapel was used as a mosque in the 14th century. Unfortunately the Basilica became unusable due to a serious earthquake in 1365-70.
Another major landmark in the town is the Byzantine Aqueduct which cuts right through the middle of the town from the cisterns near the Basilica of St John, past the train station and into the eastern part of the town before continuing along the Sirince gorge and then northwards. They brought drinking water, which was supplied from the springs in the east of the Pranga district between Belevi and Selcuk, to the Byzantine period settlement on the Ayasuluk hill and the Basilica of St John, which was a pilgrimage centre in Medieval times. Marble blocks recovered from Ephesus and the Artemision were used in the pillars of the aqueduct as well as Ionic capitals dating back to the Archaic period which can now be seen in the courtyard of the Ephesus Museum. A cistern has been recently unearthed and restored in the place where the aqueduct reached Ayasuluk hill. Fluted columns and capitals date back to the 2nd century AD, which were brought from Ephesus, were used in the water cistern with an arched and vaulted structure.
Not to be confused with the much larger and one of the town's top attractions, Isa Bey Mosque, this small mosque was built in the 14th century (like many in the town). It's located along the main road near the footbridge and Ephesus Museum and features a brick minaret.