I wouldn’t have enough space here to fit all that can be said about Ephesus.
But if you’re interested in the ancient world and visiting what’s left of it during your cultural travel, this early city is one of the most amazing places in antiquity.
I’d heard about Ephesus in passing when somebody mentioned it relating to the Bible when I was little, but to be quite honest with you I never knew whether Ephesus was a real place or not.
Well, it is a very real place with a remarkable story and many interesting facts to share!
So I’m going to make this a two part series. In this first part, I’ll cover the historical background and in the second part, I’ll focus on visiting it today in modern Turkey.
Update: It wasn’t possible to fit all the interesting information in two posts, so this is actually a three part series. See the end for links.
What is Ephesus?
The origins of the city can be traced back to the Neolithic Age, around 6000 BC, but the foundation per se is thought to have happened during the 10th century.
It was a Greek city, part of the Ionian League (A confederation of twelve Greek cities), then a Roman city, later Byzantine, with some invasions along the way by Persians and other cultures.
Why is Ephesus important?
Ephesus has been in the middle of some pretty significant events throughout history and there have been some very noteworthy people who walked its streets.
Visiting it today is going back in time thousands of years, seeing the influences of the many cultures that went by it and the historic facts that occurred there.
Here’s a summary.
Even though there’s a legend about the founding of Ephesus which attributes it to the mythical Amazons, it is also said that an Athenian prince called Androklos (son of king Kadron) founded it sometime during the 10th century.
It was originally a sea port but with time, the sea has moved away about 8 km west.
Androklos and his dog are depicted on the Hadrian temple frieze at the site in Ephesus today.
After a series of invaders taking over the city and revolts by the people, the city was ruled by a council called the Kuretes.
Later on the Lydians invaded Persia who in return defeated them, forcing Ephesus under Persian control.
At this stage there were many revolts and wars between Greek cities and Persia.
Alexander The Great, liberator
When Alexander died in 323 BC, Lysimachus who was one of his generals, stepped up and became ruler.
Lysimachus moved the city to a nearby location, due to the marshes created by the river. He then built the walls around it.
After some other Greek rulers disputed control over Ephesus, the city fell under Egyptian rule from 263 to 197 BC.
When his grandson died with no heirs, he left it back to the Roman Republic.
Ephesus reached a high level of prosperity under Augustus when he became Emperor in 27 BC and appointed the city the capital of the New Asia.
At this time the city grew its population to about 400.000 people making it the second most important city in the Roman Empire, after Rome.
Baths and aqueducts were built as well to supply the needs of the growing population.
Ephesus and the Temple of Artemis were destroyed by the Goths in 263 AD, marking the decline of the city.
With the advent of Christianity Ephesus regained some importance.
The city was then completely abandoned during the 15th century.
In the next article I’m going to tell you how you can get to this amazing ancient site and the places that you can visit!
So meet me here to read about the interesting places on site and what they mean.
Have you been to Ephesus before?
Did you know about its intricate history?
Or perhaps you’ve never been there and now you’re intrigued by it?
Tell me in the comments field or join the conversation on Facebook!