Located on the top of Mount Bulbul, nine kilometres from Ephesus, the Shrine of the Virgin Mary is hidden in a green and peaceful spot.
It is said to be the place where Mary passed her last days, and it's thought she came with Saint John, who came here to convert people in the local area to Christianity.
In the fourth century, a church, which combined Mary's house and her grave, was built. The house here is a typical stone-built, two-storey Roman structure. Today, just the central part and a room to the right of the altar are accessible to visitors, who light candles and leave small gifts to Mary.
Another interesting feature of this site is a spring called Mary's Water by the locals. It yields a rather salty water, said to have curative properties. Anyone is welcome to take a drink.
In the 1980s Pope John-Paul II delared the site as a Christian pilgrimage site, which instantly increased its popularity. Muslims also visit in recognition of Mary being the mother of one of their prophets. Every year on August 15 a ceremony is held here to commemorate Mary's Assumption.
It will be difficult to visit Saint Mary's shrine unless you have your own transportation. However, some tour operators do visit the area.
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