Ephesus is the best-preserved Roman city in the Mediterranean region, and one of Turkey’s top sights along Istanbul and Cappadocia. If you want to visit a place where you can really get a feel for what life was like 2000 years ago during the glory-days of Greece and Rome, Ephesus (also spelled Efes, Ephesos or Ephessos) is the place. In terms of ruins, it’s better than Rome itself.
Ephesus was built in the 10th century BC on the site of the former Arzawan capital by Attic and Ionian Greek colonists. The city was famed for the Temple of Artemis (completed around 550 BC), one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. In 268 AD, the Temple was destroyed or damaged in a raid by the Goths. The town was partially destroyed by an earthquake in 614 AD.
Ephesus contains the largest collection of Roman ruins in the eastern Mediterranean. Only an estimated 15% has been excavated. The ruins that are visible give some idea of the city’s original splendour, and the names associated with the ruins are evocative of its former life. The theatre dominates the view down Harbour Street, which leads to the silted-up harbour.
Ephesus was one of the seven churches of Asia that are cited in the Book of Revelation. The Gospel of St. John may have been written here.