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Izmir, Selcuk (Ephesus Ancient City) Travel Guide

Izmir, Selcuk (Ephesus Ancient City) Travel Guide

Selçuk district of İzmir is one of the most popular travel routes of the city. The biggest reason for this is, of course, that it hosts the Ancient City of Ephesus, but Selçuk is not limited to that.

The history of the district, which welcomes thousands of visitors especially in the summer months , goes back to 8,600 years ago . Selcuk, a valuable geography that has been populated since the Neolithic Age, is famous for Paganism, the House of Virgin Mary and St. It is a geography where 3 religions spread, reflecting the periods of Christianity with the St. John’s Church and Islam with the Isa Bey Mosque. Known especially for the Ancient City of Ephesus , Selçuk has hosted many civilizations and is one of the rare world heritage sites that can still keep this historical past alive today.

In Selçuk, which is home to many structures in the UNESCO List, Ephesus, Ephesus Ruins, House of Virgin Mary, Ayasuluk Hill and St. Jean Basilica and Çukuriçi Höyük are on the UNESCO World Heritage List .

Selcuk Attractions

It would not be a lie to say that the Selçuk district of İzmir is the largest open-air museum not only in our country but also in the world. Let’s examine the list of places to visit in Selçuk that we have compiled for you.

1. Ephesus Ancient City

Ephesus Ancient City

“Ephesus” World Heritage Site, which was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2015; Çukuriçi Höyük consists of four components: Ayasuluk Hill (Selçuk Castle, St. John’s Basilica, Isa Bey Bath, Isa Bey Mosque, Artemision), Ephesus Ancient City and Virgin Mary’s House.

Ephesus, one of the most important centers of the Antiquity, has been inhabited continuously for approximately 9000 years, starting from the prehistoric period throughout the Hellenistic, Roman, Eastern Roman, Principalities and Ottoman periods, and has been a very important port city and cultural and commercial center at all stages of its history.

In Ephesus, which houses symbols that shed light on the superior urbanization, architecture and religious history of the Hellenistic and Roman Periods, there are outstanding examples of architecture and urban planning from different periods.

The ancient city is 3 km away from the Selçuk district of İzmir   . Whichever way you come, you can reach it by following the signs that direct you to Ephesus around Selçuk.

  • 2022 Ephesus Ancient City Entrance Fee: 150 TL
  • Ephesus Slope Houses Entrance Fee: 65 TL

Entry is free for teachers and students.

If you have a Müzekart, you can enter Ephesus for free.

If you do not have a Müzekart, the most logical option is to issue a Museumcard for 60 TL before you go.

With the Müzekart, you can enter all museums free of charge for 1 year.

Ephesus is open to visitors every day of the week, and visiting hours may vary depending on the summer and winter seasons.

Summer Period Visiting Hours (1 April – 31 October)

  • Opening Time: 08:00
  • Closing Time: 19:30

Winter Period Visiting Hours (Between 31 October – 1 April)

  • Opening Time: 08:30
  • Closing Time: 18:00

2. Ephesus Museum

Ephesus Museum

The Ephesus Museum, located in the Selçuk district of İzmir, houses the finds from the Ephesus excavation site located nearby.

The most well-known artifact is the Statue of Artemis found in the Temple of Artemis .

The museum, which is divided into two sections as archeology and ethnography, is open to visitors every day of the year between 08:30 and 17:30 .

The entrance fee to the Ephesus Museum is 50 TL as of 2022 and it is possible to enter with a Müzekart. If you do not have a Müzekart, you can buy it from the box office in the museum for 60 TL (annual) and visit many museums around Turkey free of charge.

If you are planning to visit the Ancient City of Ephesus, it would be a logical choice to take out a Museumcard, so you can visit both the museum and the Ancient City of Ephesus with the same card.

3. Sirince Village

Sirince Village

This small and charming village, which is connected to the Selçuk district of İzmir, is 8 km from the district center . (about 15 minutes by car)

In Şirince village, where you can also reach the turquoise minibus departing from Selçuk district bus station, you can eat fruit from the branches of beautiful fruit trees and  taste Şirince’s famous fruity wines . In this charming village, you can have a village breakfast, buy olive oil, taste the herb and potato pancakes of Şirince and enjoy coffee against the village view.

For those who are curious, the story of the name of Şirince village is also very interesting. The Greeks called Şirince Village, which was a Greek village before the population exchange, as Kırkince (Kirkince). Later, Turks from Rumelia started to live in this village and the Turks started to call it Çirkince, but later on, it was named Şirince because it was not an ugly place but a cute place.

Şirince, where olive oil, wine and other agricultural products are produced, has become a famous village visited by local and foreign tourists as it has become known over the years. In 2012, he became famous. As you will remember; In 2012, the whole world was shaken by rumors that the apocalypse would break on December 21. According to the Mayan Calendar, it was claimed that the apocalypse would break out in 2012 and that only Şirince Village would be saved when the apocalypse broke out. Of course, all this remained a claim and the apocalypse did not break, but Şirince Village became more well-known.

4. House of Virgin Mary

the House of the Virgin Mary

The House of Virgin Mary, which is about 9 km from the center of Selçuk and about 15 minutes from the Ephesus Ruins, is one of the most valuable places in the world in terms of spirituality. Pope IV. Every year, tens of thousands of Catholic Christians visit the House of Virgin Mary, which was declared an official pilgrimage center for the Christian world by Paul.

So why is this such an important place?

House of Virgin Mary, St. Mary’s, St. Recognized and declared as the mother of Jesus, St. A place where it is believed that he spent the last years of his life with John. A German nun named Katherina Emerich sees this house and it is found by researching what she saw in her dream. Later, this area becomes a sacred and religious center, a sacred temple where healing is sought and sacrifices are made.

Visitors from the Christian world, who are believed to have ascended to the sky on August 15, come to the region every year on these dates and perform their traditional rituals. Christians become pilgrims here by lighting candles and drinking water from the three fountains symbolizing money, love and happiness.

The entrance fee to the Virgin Mary’s House, which can only be visited by taxi and private vehicle, is 10 TL.

5. Temple of Artemis

The Temple of Artemis

The Temple of Artemis, also known as the Temple of Diana, was one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world .

Dedicated to the goddess Artemis, the temple was built in Ephesus in 550s BC. Only a few pieces of marble remain from the temple, which was built entirely of marble .

It is estimated that the temple, which was built by the greatest sculptors of the period in ancient times, was 125 meters long, 65 meters wide and 25 meters high.

Two statues unearthed from the Temple of Artemis are now exhibited in the Selcuk Museum.

You can visit the Temple of Artemis for free.

6. Ayasuluk Castle (Selçuk Castle)

Ayasuluk Castle

Another name for Ayasuluk Castle  is Selçuk Castle . Ayasuluk Castle, located at the top of Ayasuluk Hill, is located just at the entrance of Selçuk. If you ask where Ayasuluk Hill is, you should open a small parenthesis for this place. Ayasuluk Hill is a very important place in terms of archeology and the first settlement of Ephesus.

Ayasuluk Castle, which was also used in the Byzantine, Aydınoğulları and Ottoman periods, has 15 towers and 2 gates. It is in a perfect location to watch Selçuk from a bird’s eye view and witness the beauty of the geography. The entrance fee to the castle is paid and as of 2022, the entrance fee is 15 TL.

7. Cave of the Seven Sleepers

Cave of the Seven Sleepers

The Cave of the Seven Sleepers is located near the ancient city of Ephesus, at the foot of Panayır Mountain. This cave is known as the cave where the seven young people in the story of the Seven Sleepers, both in Islam and Christianity, slept. While it is generally accepted that the Ahsab-ı Kehf Cave, mentioned in the Qur’an in the chapter of Kehf, is in Tarsus or Afşin, Christians have adopted this location in Ephesus.

Speaking of the cave, the legend of the seven sleepers cannot be overlooked. The legend of the Seven Sleepers tells the story of a group of people who slept for centuries without getting old. In 250 AD, seven Christians defied the young emperor and refused to offer sacrifices to the temple in his honor. When they receive death threats, they take shelter in a cave. The Emperor orders a wall to be built at the entrance of the cave, and after a while the Seven Sleepers fall asleep. When the teenagers wake up, one of them goes to the city to buy food. When the young man gives the old money to buy bread from a bakery, he realizes that he and his friends have not slept for just one night, but for two centuries. Because it is no longer the Decius period (249-251), but II. Theodosius period (408-450) is going on.

A church and many tombs were unearthed here during the excavations carried out in the past. When the inscriptions about the Seven Sleepers, which are considered sacred, are seen in the tombs and on the walls of the church, it is accepted that this place is a legendary church. Seven Sleepers Cave is one of the popular free tourist places to visit in Selçuk.

8. St. John’s Basilica (St. John’s Basilica)

st.  John's Basilica (St. John's Basilica)

st. Jean’s Basilica is located on Ayasuluk Hill, close to Selcuk Castle (approximately 3 minutes walking distance). It was built by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I on the site of the previous wooden roofed building that was damaged by the earthquake. It was built with a cross plan, six domes and three naves. It is thought that the tomb of St. Yohannes, one of the 12 apostles, who played an influential role in the spread of Christianity in Ephesus and Western Anatolia, is under this basilica. In this respect, the basilica is a very important building for Christians. 

The entrance fee to St. Yohannes Basilica is 40 TL as of 2022. You can visit the place where the museum card is valid between 08:00 – 18:30 every day.

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