Ephesus Guide

Ephesus: Guide to Visiting the Archaeological Site Ephesus – 2024

Ephesus, the archaeological site in Turkey , is undoubtedly one of the most famous in the country, as well as the largest and best preserved, as we can see from its map. If you think of a trip to Turkey, the magical scenery of Cappadocia, the minarets of Istanbul and immense archaeological parks of different civilizations come to mind. Among them, Ephesus is undoubtedly the most famous. Having become one of the most important cities along the Aegean coast , today the Archaeological Site of Ephesus is one of the most visited attractions in all of Turkey. In this article we will therefore guide you to the visit and, following the Ephesus map, we will discover where it is located and what to see in this immense archaeological park . Follow us!

The Archaeological Site of Ephesus in Brief, Useful Info

AddressAcarlar, Ephesus Ruins, 35920 Selçuk, Turchia
Number+90 232 892 60 10
How to getBus : From Selçuk bus station, in the direction of Pamucak beach. A dolmus every half hour
Car : From Pamukkale take the E87 in the direction of Izmir and exit at Germencik. Then take the D550 to Selçuk and turn left onto Meryem Ana Yolu
On foot: From Selçuk a path of about 3 kilometers starts amidst the Mediterranean vegetation that leads to Ephesus.
Opening timeFrom 08.30 to 18.30 (summer)
From 08.30 to 17.30 (winter)
Open all year
Price40 €
AdviseVisit early in the morning to avoid the hot hours and the large flow of tourists, or late in the afternoon to enjoy perfect light

Where is Ephesus located

The ancient site was the most important city in Asia Minor during Roman times and among the largest cities in Anatolia. In fact, Ephesus is located a few kilometers from the Aegean coast but in the past it was washed by the sea. Its position was decidedly strategic and today Ephesus city stands majestically halfway between the cities of Selçuk and Kuşadasi , about 80 kilometers from Izmir .

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History of Ephesus

Now that we know where Ephesus is located, let’s move on to its origins. The history of Ephesus is complex and, like many other cities in Turkey, it is surrounded by an aura of legend. In fact, Ephesus corresponds to the ancient and powerful Hittite city of Apasas , but according to Strabo its foundation was due to one of the Amazon queens .

In any case, whether you favor the historical version or the mythological one, Ephesus had its apogee during the Greek and subsequently the imperial Roman periods. Finally, the history of Christianity sees events of fundamental importance in Ephesus for its propagation towards the West.

Origins and Greek Period

As we have said, the origin of Ephesus is due to the presence of the Hittite Empire which founded the city of Apasas here . Following the invasion by the Cimmerians , it became a wealthy city-state ruled by Pythagoras of Ephesus , thus starting the city’s Greek period. Indeed, this era is characterized by great wealth, as demonstrated by the construction of the Temple of Artemis .

But the advance of the Persians also affected the fortunes of Ephesus, which was conquered and sacked by the army of Cyrus the Great. However, its population remained linked to Greek traditions, and the Ionia Dodecapolis , composed among others of Miletus, Priene, Dydima and Samos, rebelled against the Persian yoke but was definitively defeated in 494 BC

Finally, the city was definitively liberated by Alexander the Great who was welcomed as a hero. But after his death, the power games for control of this great city were violent. Therefore, Ephesus came under the rule of Pergamum and the Kingdom of Pontus , and in 129 BC it finally came under the control of the Romans .

ephesus greek history ephesus archaeological site Türkiye
Greek inscriptions on some buildings in Ephesus testify to the city’s great past

The Roman era

Under the Romans, Ephesus experienced its heyday, thus becoming the capital of the Roman province in Asia Minor . But it was above all in the imperial era that the city had its greatest architectural and cultural development.

In fact, Nero made his port practicable, while Hadrian and Domitian had large palaces built. In particular, Hadrian was a great enthusiast of oriental culture and went to the city twice to ensure that the place was perfect for the life and pleasure of its inhabitants.

Christian period

In the 1st century the Christian religion spread, above all thanks to the arrival of Saint Paul in 53 AD . In fact, after staying in Cyprus and Jerusalem, he stopped in the great city of Ephesus for a period of about two years, where he became head of the local church. After that, he continued his journey towards Rome, not before his famous shipwreck on the island of Malta. After his martyrdom, which occurred in Rome around 65 AD, Saint John was elected as successor at the head of the church of Ephesus.

In fact, according to tradition, Mary died here after following the apostle John, entrusted to her by Jesus. Furthermore, it was here that Saint John wrote the Gospel . But most importantly, the Council of Ephesus was held in 431 under the Eastern emperor Theodosius II . Consisting of over 200 priests, the actual divinity of Mary was debated, thus representing the first great schism of the Christian church. This city therefore remained the most important in Asia Minor even under the Byzantines .

Tomb of Saint John
The remains of the tomb of Saint John, in Ephesus

What to see in Ephesus

After consulting the Ephesus Türkiye Map, let’s see what to see in this incredible historical attraction of Anatolia.

The area is quite large and we will show you its main monuments by following the path from the main entrance, in the southern area of ​​the archaeological site. Finally, we will also discover the important monuments found around the ancient city of Ephesus.

Ancient Ephesus

By following the map of the site, you can access the area intended for the political and religious functions of the city. Furthermore, the city was divided into two neighborhoods , one dedicated to political and religious life and the other to pleasures and entertainment. Both were connected by splendid avenues which today bear the name of Via dei Cureti and Via di Marmo.

So let’s see, step by step, what to see in Ephesus!


Once you enter the entrance, the first building you come across is the Odeon . Located on the right of the main street, it was built in the Augustan era and could hold up to 5,000 people . Since this was the central area, intended for the political and religious life of the city, it was essentially used for city meetings.


The immense space that opens up in front of the Odeon and the other buildings in the area corresponds to the ancient Upper Agora . In fact, this was the business and political center of the city. Built with a rectangular plan, it was surrounded by all the most important buildings in the Ephesus district and housed in the center a large Sebasteion dedicated to Augustus, an ancient temple which had the aim of deifying the Roman emperors.

Agora - where ephesus is located - ephesus where it is located
The immense space constituted by the Upper Agora


Proceeding along the Upper Agora, next to the Odeon are the remains of the Prytaneion . This building was the seat of the city senate, where meetings, banquets, audiences, but also sacred ceremonies took place. In fact, the sacred hearth of Ephesus was kept in the Prytaneion and was protected by the Goddess Vesta, the protector of the Roman Senate.

Prytaneion Roman Senate
The ruins of the Prytaneion, the ancient senate

Temple of Domitian

On the west side of the map of the great Agora of Ephesus in Turkey you can admire the incredible remains of the Temple of Domitian . It is in fact one of the largest buildings in Ephesus, where there is a magnificent architrave supported by two splendid columns and two caryatids that have been preserved over the years. The temple was built by Domitian and, although today it bears his name, it was actually dedicated to his father Vespasian due to the damnatio memoriae pronounced against him.

temple of domitian - city of ephesus - ephesus city
The imposing columns of the Temple of Domitian, dedicated to his father Vespasian

Via dei Cureti

The last building flanking the Agora was the Memmius Monument , dedicated to an illustrious citizen of Ephesus. The Via dei Cureti , the second most important artery of the city, branches off from here . Today it still retains parts of its splendid marble flooring and the remains of the tombs, the baths and the temples that flanked the road. This important communication route connected the Upper Agora to the Civil Agora , where the popular market took place, as seen on the Map of Ephesus in Turkey.

via dei cureti - archaeological site of ephesus
All the elegance of the ancient Via dei Curetes , which connected the Superior Agora to the Civil Agora

The Terraced Domus

Walking along the entire Via dei Cureti, on the left stand the beautiful Domus Terrazzate . In fact, here stood the most beautiful and elegant noble residences in the city, which overlooked the most beautiful palaces of Ephesus. In fact, many of them are terraced and contain perfectly preserved frescoes and mosaics .

Roman terraced domus Türkiye
The frescoed walls and mosaic floors of the domus of Ephesus

Temple of Hadrian

In front of the terraced Domus of the Ephesian nobles, the Temple of Hadrian stands majestically . It was actually a rather small structure, but the remains of its columns are decidedly impressive. Consisting of four Corinthian columns supporting an arch in the centre, its decorations are still clearly visible.

Indeed Hadrian, who visited Ephesus in 128 AD, was a great lover of Greek art. As evidence of this great passion of his, a decoration depicting Medusa was found inside the temple , as well as depictions of the Amazons , Athena and Heracles .

Temple of Hadrian
The temple of Hadrian, with the four Corinthian columns supporting the arch

Library of Celsus

A true symbol of Ephesus, the Library of Celsus is undoubtedly the best preserved ancient monument in Turkey. This point of interest is a fixed stop that we want to point out to you on the Map of Ephesus in Türkiye. This imposing building can be accessed at the entrance to the Via di Marmo, or from the Porta di Augusto which connects the library to the Civil Agora.

It was erected in 114 AD to remember Gaius Julius Celsus Polemeanus , a highly cultured and influential senator of Ephesus. In fact, the library was first and foremost his enormous burial place. Consisting of a decorated façade full of beautiful statues, over 12,000 scrolls were preserved inside and it was the largest library in the world after that of Alexandria in Egypt and nearby Pergamum.

Marble Street

Once you reach the Library of Celsus, the road naturally bends to the right, heading north. Therefore, the elegant and majestic Via di Marmo starts from here . This road entirely ran alongside the Civil Agora and was the busiest place in the city. Today its beautiful marble flooring and the remains of the statues and columns on its side are preserved.

In fact, in the past this street was lined with long porticoes, called stoà . Furthermore, Trajan’s Nymphaeum also stands along the road . This splendid fountain housed the statue of the emperor and the Latin inscription is still visible: ” I have conquered it all, now the world is at my feet “.

Marble Street Ephesus Turkey Archaeological Site
The Marble Road connected the Theater to the Library


The map of Ephesus, Turkey, could not miss the Great Theater which can be reached by following the entire Marble Road. The structure is located in the eastern portion of Ephesus and its steps take advantage of the natural slope of the land. Built in Hellenistic style, it was further enlarged under Claudius and Nero and completed by Trajan and Antoninus Pius.

It could accommodate up to 24,000 spectators and is also mentioned in the New Testament. In fact, here Saint Paul was harshly contested by the sellers of statuettes of Artemis, shouting “ great is the Diana of the Ephesians!

The imposing Theater dominates the Via Arcadiana

Via Arcadiana

Finally, a long paved road started from the Teatro Grande which led to the port. In fact, the Via Arcadiana was lined with porticoes and is one of the largest urban planning works of the time. This street takes its name from the Temple of Arcadius , dedicated to the Eastern Roman emperor, a place that we recommend you visit on your trips to Turkey, not present in our map of Ephesus.

It was located at the level of the door that led to the Civil Agora, in an area where the porticoes were dotted with shops and warehouses.

Via Arcadiana Ephesus Türkiye
The Via Arcadiana, the long artery that connected the Great Theater to the port of Ephesus

The Surroundings of Ephesus

Now that we have seen the map of Ephesus and the most important monuments of the archaeological site in Turkey, let’s discover the attractions found outside.

In fact, the original nucleus of the city was located at the foot of Ayasuluk Hill and subsequently the population moved towards the current archaeological site. Furthermore, the surroundings of Ephesus are one of the most important testimonies of the spread of Christianity towards the Mediterranean and today we find important places of worship.

Temple of Artemis

About three kilometers from the ancient city of Ephesus are the remains of what was Artemisium , the famous Temple of Artemis . This structure was decidedly impressive and was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. 115 meters long and 55 meters wide, it was, like all the temples of Türkiye, of the Ionic order. It was initially dedicated to Cybele , a divinity later assimilated by the Greeks with Artemis, daughter of Zeus and sister of Apollo.

Unfortunately today very few remains remain, but you will realize the impressive grandeur of this structure. In fact, the Temple of Artemis was four times larger than the Parthenon in Athens, as well as very rich in sculptures and decorations. Destroyed during the third holy war between the Greek cities of Asia Minor, it was rebuilt in the Hellenistic age at the behest of Alexander the Great. Finally, it was finally closed by Theodosius and destroyed by John Chrysostom , archbishop of Constantinople.

temple of artemis ephesus archaeological site Türkiye
What remains of Artemisio, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world

Basilica of the Council of Ephesus

On the north side of the Archaeological Park of Ancient Ephesus, not far from the Via Arcadiana, is the complex of the moving ruins of the Basilica of the Council of Ephesus . In fact, the famous council in which the divine role of Mary and Jesus Christ was decided was held here in 431 AD. However, the real name is Basilica of Mary Mother of God , so called to commemorate the death of Mary which, according to legend, occurred in Ephesus.

Basilica of the Council of Ephesus Basilica Maria
The ruins of the Basilica of Mary Mother of God, where the famous Council of Ephesus was held

Basilica of San Giovanni

Another extremely important place for Christianity is the Basilica of San Giovanni . The remains of this large sacred building are located at the entrance to the city of Selçuk, a couple of kilometers from the Temple of Artemis. Built at the behest of Emperor Justinian on the site of the tomb of St. John , the church was probably destroyed and sacked by the Goths.

The basilica was decidedly large in size, as can be guessed from its remains. Today the beautiful central nave , the monumental entrance and some tombs of various shapes are still visible .

Basilica of San Giovanni
The area corresponding to the large Basilica of San Giovanni, the apostle’s burial place

Mary’s house

Finally, one of the most important places in Ephesus and all of Turkey is the House of Mary . Located in the surrounding hills, about five kilometers from ancient Ephesus, this stone house is a place of pilgrimage for Christians and is considered sacred by Muslims . In fact, according to tradition, Mary lived and died here. In fact, her writings tell us that Jesus on her cross entrusted her mother to the apostle John, who took her to Ephesus until her death at the age of 101.

Today you can see the small chapel built in the nineteenth century, but it is still possible to admire the red line that demarcates the border with the original foundations .

House of Mary Türkiye
The small stone building that hosted Maria until her death

Visit to the Archaeological Site of Ephesus, FAQ

How long does it take to visit Ephesus?

The entire archaeological site can be visited in about three hours . If you also intend to visit the monuments outside, consider about four hours .

What are the opening hours of the Archaeological Site of Ephesus?

The site is open all year round from 8am to 6.30pm in summer and from 8am to 5.30pm in winter . Furthermore, opening is guaranteed 7 days a week.

How much does the ticket to the Archaeological Site of Ephesus cost?

The entrance ticket costs € 40 .

What to bring when visiting Ephesus?

Ephesus and Turkey can be very hot during the summer. Therefore, if you decide to visit the archaeological site during the summer period we recommend you bring a supply of water , a hat and/or sun protection .

How to get to Ephesus?

The Ephesus Archaeological Site is located a few kilometers from the city of Selçuk. You can then reach it via the D550 , which takes you to the archaeological site in five minutes. If you are coming from Izmir, just take the E87 , exit at Belevi and follow the signs for Ephesus.

How to get from Pamukkale to Ephesus?

If you plan to reach Ephesus from Pamukkale you can take the E87 in the direction of Izmir and exit at Germencik . Then take the D550 to Selçuk and turn left onto Meryem Ana Yolu . The journey takes approximately three hours .

How to get from Bodrum to Ephesus?

If you instead intend to visit Ephesus during a beach holiday in Bodrum, just drive in the direction of Milas and then take the D525 . Then you will have to take the D550 at Ortaklar which will then lead you to Ephesus. The journey takes two and a half hours .

Where to sleep to visit Ephesus?

If you plan to visit Ephesus during your tour of Turkey, we recommend sleeping in nearby Selçuk . However, the modern city has little to offer and it might therefore be a good idea to stay overnight in Izmir .

Who burned the Artemis of Ephesus?

Many legends are told about the destruction of the Temple of Artemis. In fact it is said that Herostratus , a poor Ephesian shepherd, set fire to the Artemis with the aim of going down in history. However, this building was of a very large size to be able to create a fire individually and it is therefore very likely that the Artemis of Ephesus was destroyed during the holy war between the various Greek cities of Turkey.

Who attended the Council of Ephesus?

The Council of Ephesus was called by Theodosius II because of the heresy of Nestorius , ancient archbishop of Constantinople. In fact, he stated that Christ was first of all a man as well as divine. He therefore participated in the Council of Ephesus, together with 200 other priests .

What is the matron of Ephesus?

The Matrona of Ephesus was an important narrative work of the 1st century AD, written by the poet Gaius Petronius Arbiter . This important literary testimony allows us to understand how influential the city of Ephesus was for the world of the time.

What other visits can you combine with Ephesus?

Ephesus covers a very large area and the complete visit takes about four hours. We therefore recommend visiting it in the morning, while in the afternoon we recommend visiting Izmir or Pamukkale .

Our advice for visiting the Archaeological Site of Ephesus

We recommend visiting Ephesus early in the morning , or in the late afternoon , where the temperature is favorable for the visit. In fact, during these hours you will avoid the great heat that characterizes this area of ​​Turkey during the summer period. This way you can explore the archaeological park in complete tranquility.

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