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Ephesus, Turkey

The Library of Celsus, Ephesus' most famous landmark. Photo Creative Commons License Carmen.

The ancient city of Ephesus (Turkish: Efes), located near the Aegean Sea in modern day Turkey, was one of the great cities of the Greeks in Asia Minor and home to the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Today, the ruins of Ephesus are a major tourist attraction, especially for travelers on Mediterranean cruises. Ephesus is also a sacred site for Christians due to its association with several biblical figures, including St. Paul, St. John the Evangelist and the Virgin Mary. The religious history of ancient Ephesus was the subject of the webmaster's thesis at Oxford (completed in June 2007), so this section is even more comprehensive than most - including the most detailed map of Ephesus on the Web! Excerpts from the thesis are included among the background articles in this city guide - see the menu at left.

  • Ephesus Map Our detailed, interactive city map of Ephesus, showing the location of sacred sites and religious attractions.
  • Ephesus Photos Our galleries of hand-selected photos of religious sites in Ephesus.
  • Ephesus Books Selected travel guides and other books on Ephesus.
  • Ephesus Sightseeing Tours Save money and time by booking sightseeing tours and excursions in Ephesus before you leave home.

Sacred Sites and Religious Attractions in Ephesus

  • Basilica of St. John
    The Basilica of St. John was built by Emperor Justinian in the 6th century over the traditional tomb of John the Evangelist. The site became a major pilgrimage destination in the Early Middle Ages.
  • Cave of the Seven Sleepers
    According to legend, seven Christian boys were locked in this cave by the Romans in c.250 AD, fell asleep, and woke up in the 5th century. It became a place of burial and pilgrimage.
  • Church of Mary
    The walls, an arch, and the baptismal pool remain intact at the Church of Mary, possibly the first church dedicated to the Virgin Mary in the world and the site of the Council of Ephesus in 431.
  • Grotto of St. Paul
    Although not generally accessible to the public, this cave is worth mentioning for the important frescoes and inscriptions that were found inside.
  • House of the Virgin
    Discovered in a vision by a bedridden German nun in 1812, this stone building is believed by many Catholics and Muslims to be where the Virgin Mary lived her last years. There is also a healing fountain.
  • Isabey Mosque
    The Isabey Mosque was built in 1375 at the direction of the Emir of Aydin. It incorporates columns and stones recycled from the ruins of Ephesus and the Temple of Artemis.
  • Prytaneion
    A very important civic building where the sacred fire of Hestia was tended, official visitors were received by civic and religious dignitaries, and where two statues of the Ephesian Artemis were found.
  • Synagogue
    Foundations of a basilica-like building that may have been one of several synagogues known to exist in ancient Ephesus. A Jewish lamp was found on the site.
  • Temple of Artemis
    In ancient times it was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, but today the Temple of Artemis is represented by a single column standing in a swamp.
  • Temple of Hadrian
    This attractive Roman imperial temple was constructed in 118 AD and reconstructed in the fifth century. Its tympanum bears an interesting frieze that may depict Medusa.
  • Theater
    This magnificent classical theater is considered an important biblical site: the probable place where Paul preached to the pagans in Acts. It is still in use and can seat thousands.