City of Ephesus

Ephesus, in Greek Ephesos, was the most important city in Ionian Asia Minor, the ancient ruins lie near to the modern village of Selcuk in Western Turkey.

The city was famed for the Temple of Artemis (completed around 550 BC) which was considered one of the seven wonders of the Ancient world. When Augustus became emperor in 27 BC, he made Ephesus the capital of proconsular Asia. Ephesus then entered an era of prosperity. It was second in importance in size only to Rome. The city was also famed for the Library of Celsus, and a theater which was capable of holding 25,000 spectators. Ephesus is one of the largest Roman archaeological sites in the eastern Mediterranean.

The visible ruins gives to the splendor and wealth to the site. The theater dominates the view down Harbor street. The city was partially destroyed in the earthquake of 614. The importance of the city as a trade center declined when the river slowly evaporated and lost its access to the Aegean Sea. Today the harbor is 5 km inland. Ephesus was one of the seven churches of Asia that are cited in the Book of Revelations.

The Gospel of John may have been written there. The Basilica of St. John was built in the 6th century during the reign of Emperor Justinian. Ephesus was an important center for Early Christians. According to the Acts of the Apostles, Paul attended a Jewish Synagogue in Ephesus, but also organized mission activity and developed the first Christian community which had been started by John. The Ephesians derived the argument from John’s presence in the city that Mary was with him. The House of the Virgin Mary since the 19th century has been considered to be the last home of Mary, (mother of Jesus). It is a popular pilgrimage site and has been visited by three recent popes.