Mirror, mirror on the wall, which is the most ancient of them all? Definitely, the answer to this question is Ephesus -or also known as Efes-, in İzmir, Turkey! İzmir is blessed with amazing beaches, gorgeous nature, incredible neighbor cities, such as Alaçatı, Marmaris, Bodrum and of course ancient places like Efes! In fact, the last one is one of the most visited tourist destinations in Turkey. While in Efes, you can check out the Magnesian Gate, the Roman basilica, the Memmius Monument, the Hercules Gate, the Curetes Street, the fountain of Trajan, the Temple of Hadrian and many more! But the most impressive ones are definitely the Temple of Artemis, The Library of Celsus and of course, the Great Theatre. When you enter Ephesus from the south entrance, its breathtaking theatre will salute you. This theatre has also witnessed amazing performances by Elton John, Ray Charles, Jethro Tull and many more! But of course, the Great Theatre is not the only dazzling sight in this UNESCO World Heritage Site! So if you want to explore more, here is your guide.
The Temple of Artemis, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, is sadly nothing but a graceful column today. This temple was dedicated to the goddess of the wilderness and fertility, Artemis, the daughter of Zeus and the twin sister of Apollo. It is known that the temple was completely rebuilt three times and in its last form was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World! To check out the ruins of the temple you can visit the site and explore the incredible Ephesus Archaeological Museum.
The Library of Celsus is probably one of the most fascinating ancient ruins to gaze at. It was the "third-largest library in the ancient world" behind both Alexandria and Pergamum. This library was built in honor of the Roman Senator Tiberius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus in 117 A.D.. The grave of Celsus was beneath the ground-floor as well. In the entrance of this impressive library, you will find the statue of Athena, the goddess of wisdom. There are several columns to gaze at and the statues in the niches of the columns today, are the copies of the originals. The statues represent the virtues of Celsus, which are the wisdom (Sophia), knowledge (Episteme), intelligence (Ennoia) and valor (Arete).
At the top of the mountains, the house of the Virgin Mary, located a little bit far away from Ephesus, is definitely worth a visit! This is the place, where the Virgin Mary is said to have spent her last days! The building is entirely made of stones, as a typical Roman architectural example. Today, only the central part and a room on the right of the altar are open to visitors. In the 1960s, Pope Paul VI, was the first pope that visited this sacred place. Later, in the 1980s, during his visit, Pope John-Paul II declared the Shrine of Virgin Mary as a pilgrimage place for Christians, and nowadays, this ancient and sacred house is visited frequently by believers.
To complete this otherworldly experience, you have to check out the Ephesus Archaeological Museum. In this extraordinary museum, you can check out remnants of the Temple of Artemis and findings from Ephesus’ dazzling Hellenistic and Roman periods, as well as amazing sculptures (without noses)! There are also a lot of ethnographic exhibits with a variety of good objects, worth admiring. If you want to get some fresh air, you can wander around the courtyard, which also displays full-size sculptures and sections of columns.
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