The Great Theater, part of the archaeological site of Ephesus, is a dramatic and impressive sight. It is included in our list of sacred destinations for its biblical significance: this is traditionally where St. Paul preached against the pagans.
In the Bible
In the 1st century AD, the Apostle Paul spent over three years in Ephesus preaching the Gospel. According to tradition, he delivered a sermon condemning pagan worship in this theater.
And according to the Acts of the Apostles (19:23-41), the theater was the site of the "riot of the silversmiths" in which those who made silver figures of Artemis rioted because Paul's preaching was bad for business:
History of the Theater of Ephesus
Construction of the Great Theater of Ephesus may have begun during Hellenistic times: Lysimachus (d.281 BC) is traditionally credited with building the theater, but so far there is no archaeological evidence for its existence before 100 BC. However, Lysimachus may have chosen the building site and begun the preparation of the site, a process that required 60 years of digging in the mountainside.
A small Hellenistic theater was probably built here around 200 BC, but the theater seen today dates almost exclusively from Roman times. Constructed primarily in the 1st century (beginning about 40 AD), it was expanded periodically and used continously until the 5th century.
Earthquakes damaged the theater in the 4th century, after which it was only partially repaired. By the 8th century, the theater was incorporated into the city defense system.
Today, the theater is restored and is put to use every May during the Selçuk Ephesus Festival of Culture and Art.
What to See at the Theater of Ephesus
Built into the northern base of Panayirdag (Mt. Pion), the theater rises 30m (100 feet) high and can seat 25,000 people. There are magnificent views to be had from the top. Most of the marble paving and some lower elements of the backdrop remain on the stage.
Quick Facts on the Theater of Ephesus
|Theater of Ephesus
|theaters; biblical sites; city ruins
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|37.940847° N, 27.342782° E
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Map of the Theater of Ephesus
Below is a location map and aerial view of the Theater of Ephesus. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.