Internationally-renowned Ephesus is like an open-air museum. Formerly an impressive ancient city, much of it has been preserved so visitors can experience its breathtaking grandeur.
Ephesus has had a number of functions, and each one has been crucial. It was once an important trade centre, one of the most vital ports of ancient Antolia. As Christianity started to take hold, it became a Christian centre. Today, it's a unique tourist centre and one of the most important historical sites in the world.
Wherever you are in Western Turkey, it's worth a day trip to Ephesus to witness the remains of a city that at its golden age had 250,000 inhabitants and was home to St Paul. Visitors are invited to stroll the marble streets, see the library, take a seat in the great theatre and even visit antique Roman toilets.
It's thought Ephesus' earliest settlers were Amazons - the female warriors of ancient Antolia - who came to the area around 3000 BC.
A wonderful story precedes the actual founding of the great city: in 10 BC, Androclos, the son of the King of Athens, was seeking the perfect site to build a great city. He was fleeing from an invasion of his native Greece, and had with him a great number of travellers seeking a new home. It had been predicted by an oracle that a fish and a boar would indicate the location of the new settlement. Sure enough, someone in the camp was frying a fish, which fell out of the pan and started a boar, hiding in the bushes. Androclos followed the boar and on the spot he killed it Ephesus was founded.
In the middle of the sixth century BC Ephesus was ruled by Lydian King Kreisos, who took the city into a golden age of culture and art.
Later on, Ephesus fell to the Persians, and then to Alexander the Great's armies.
The city reached the peak of its power, wealth and luxury between the years 1 to 4 AD. During this time the city's population reached around 250,000 and Ephesus became the capital of the new Asia. After cleaning the river Caystros, the city also became a great port and a gateway to faraway lands, causing the city to thrive with commerce. Improvements were made upon the city and you can see the results of much of the construction today.
During early Christian times Ephesus was a central place for Christian worship. St Paul stayed for a time, spreading the word of Christianity to the Ephesians. The city's elders didn?t like this one bit, and it took St Paul a long time before the population came round to Christianity.
Ephesus became a Seljuk state in 1090, and aside from a brief Byzantine rule, they ruled for many years.
Eventually the Caystros silted up, leaving the site far inland. Ephesus' power dwindled, and Izmir and Kusadasi took over where trade was concerned.
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