Ephesus was an ancient Greek city on Anatolia’s western shore, on the Ionian coast three kilometers southwest of the Selçuk district of today’s Izmir province, and a major Roman metropolis. Its origins may be traced back to the Neolithic period about 6000 BC. It was erected on the site of the old capital of Arzawa in the 10th century BC by Attic and Ionian Greek colonists. In the first century BC, Ephesus had a population of over 250,000 people.

During the Classical Greek period, it was one of the twelve cities of Ionia. Following its capture by the Roman Republic in 129 BC, the city thrived.

Ephesus was included in the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List in 1994 and was designated a World Heritage Site in 2015.

It now has one of the world’s greatest collections of Roman ruins. The greatest appeal of Ephesus is because so much of it is still intact, and so little imagination is required to imagine what the Roman city would have been like. The Ephesus Archaeological Site is located 3 kilometers southwest of the town of Selçuk in the Selçuk district of Izmir Province, Turkey. Archaeologists only investigated 15% of its total area. This might sound low but you can spend a full day exploring Ephesus. The visible remains offer some notion of the city’s previous glory, and the names linked with the ruins are evocative of its former vitality.

The neighboring Temple of Artemis (finished approximately 550 BC), one of the ancient Seven Wonders of the World, is well-known throughout the city. Among the various antiquities are the Library of Celsus and a theater that can seat 25,000 people. Ephesus was one of the seven Asiatic churches listed in the Book of Revelation. It’s possible that the Gospel of John was written here.

Several Christian councils were held in the city throughout the fifth century (First Council of Ephesus). The Goths devastated the city in 263 and, while it was restored, the city’s role as a commercial hub declined as the harbor was eventually washed out by the Küçük Menderes river. In AD 614, an earthquake largely destroyed it. The Ephesus ruins are located around 30 kilometers south of Adnan Menderes Airport or 17 north of Kusadasi Port.

Interested in a tour to Ephesus & its surroundings? Check our tours.

For more on the history of Ephesus, feel free to check Britannica or History.