Yesterday I wrote all about the ancient city of Ephesus and what makes it a great World Heritage Site. Today I want to talk about the modern Turkish town of Selcuk that has grown up around Ephesus and has a lot more to offer.
We spent a late August day exploring Selcuk and started by visiting the Byzantine Citadel (cover photo) and St. John Basilica on Ayasuluk Hill. It was built for defensive purposes in the 6th century and used during the early Turkish period. The Citadel is interesting to walk around for a bit and I found it fascinating that the small church in the middle of the fort at the highest ground was converted into a cistern during the Turkish era. Right next to the castle is St. John’s Basilica, which was built in the 7th century over the tomb of the apostle John’s grave. This hill is also where he wrote many of his scriptures.
From here we drove down the street to see the Museum of Ephesus, which houses all the artifacts found in the ancient city. While it was cool to see, we had just spent three hours in Ephesus the day before and I was more excited to see the Temple of Artemis. This huge temple was built on the ruins of two previous temples and started in 323BC. It ended up being one of the Ancient Seven Wonders of the World, but today all that remains is a bit of the foundations and on hastily rebuilt column.
From there we continued a few kilometers to the Cave of the Seven Sleepers were legend says seven persecuted Christians fled to a cave and feel asleep around 250AD. Almost 200 years later a rancher opened the cave to use it as an animal pen and found them still sleeping. The awoke and were surprised to learn Christianity was now the national religion and the local population were perplexed as they tried to use such old coins. Since then the site has been turned into a church and is now a ruins, but still pretty cool to see.
The last place we visited was the House of the Virgin Mary, which is where she supposedly lived later in life since John was suppose to take care of her and he was here. The house is now a very small church and sits way up at the top of a hill south of Ephesus.
In the evening we drove up into the mountains about 9km to have dinner at Şirince, which is a really cute town that use to be Greek until the population exchange in 1923. Today it is known for its wine making from various fruits, but we did find the wind that great. What to do?!?!
All in all I really liked this area because outside of Ephesus, which is what I really wanted to see, there was way more for us to explore!!!!