In Ephesus, ROL Cruise recommends…
1. The Temple of Artemis
Before it was destroyed in 401 AD, the third and final version of the Temple of Artemis was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient world. It is thought to have been completed around 550 BC on a sacred site that dates back to the Bronze Age and was dedicated to Artemis, the Greek goddess of the hunt, wild nature and virginity. Though only foundations and fragments remain, a visit to the site of this multi-columned marble masterpiece is a must.
2. The Library of Celsus
The best known monument in Ephesus is the Library of Celsus, which dates back to 110 AD. Built in memory of Tiberius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus, it was capable of holding 12,000 scrolls in its wall niches. The structure that now stands has been extensively restored and displays clever architectural features that enhance its perceived size.
3. The Theatre
Thought to be the largest outdoor theatre in the ancient world, The Great Theatre was reconstructed by the Romans in 41 AD. Around 24,000 spectators were able to be seated in the 66 stone rows of the cavea, the lowest levels of which had marble backs for important personalities, while the higher levels were pitched to afford better views and acoustics.
4. The House of the Virgin Mary
Just outside Ephesus on Mt. Koressos is the House of the Virgin Mary. A Catholic and Muslim shrine, it is believed to be where Saint John took Mary, the mother of Jesus, to live until her assumption into Heaven. The modest church now has a wishing wall on which pilgrims place their intentions and is surrounded by flowered gardens.
5. The Cave of the Seven Sleepers
Legend has it that the slopes of Mt. Pion in Ephesus are the site of the Cave of the Seven Sleepers. Here, in 250 AD, seven Christian youngsters refused to idolise Roman Gods and became enclosed in a cave. They fell asleep and awoke 180 years later to find a city of churches and free Christian worship. Visit the grotto and the several tombs believed to be those of the sleepers after they died.