Ephesus Ancient City, House of Virgin Mary, Artemis Temple,
Basilica of St John and around.
The enclosure for archaeological remains at Ephesus elegantly reconciles historic conservation with accessibility for visitors. The site of a succession of great ancient civilizations, Ephesus, on the south-west coast of modern Turkey, embodies a peculiarly fertile synthesis of architecture and culture. In 356BC the Greeks built the Artemesium (a colossal Ionic temple dedicated to Artemis, the fertility goddess) which was one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. During the 2nd century BC, Ephesus was the fourth largest city in the eastern Roman Empire, famous for its Artemesium, the Library of Celsus and its medical school.
Located on the top of the "Bulbul" mountain 9 km ahead of Ephesus, the shrine of Virgin Mary enjoys a marvelous atmosphere hidden in the green. It is the place where Mary may have spent her last days. Indeed, she may have come in the area together with Saint John, who spent several years in the area to spread Christianity. Mary preferred this remote place rather than living in crowded place.
The house of Virgin Mary is a typical Roman architectural example, entirely made of stones. In the 4th century AD, a church, combining her house and grave, was built. The original two-stored house, which consisted of an anteroom (where today candles are proposed), bedroom and praying room (Christian church area) and a room with fireplace (chapel for Muslims). A front kitchen fell into ruins and has been restored in 1940's. Today, only the central part and a room on the right of the altar are open to visitors. From there one can understand that this building looks more like a church than a house. Another interesting place is the "Water of Mary", a source to be found at the exit of the church area and where a rather salt water, with curative properties, can be drunk by all.
The temple of Artemis is known as one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. It was built in the areas of Ephesus on a flat area which has over the centuries turned into a swamp. Today one can only see the ruins of the foundations of this marvellous construction of the Hellenistic Age, entirely made of marble and full of sculptured columns' capitals and shafts.
The new Artemis was rebuilt in the 2nd century BC. Located on top of the previous one, it had tremendous dimensions: 127 columns of each 17.5 metres high. Unfortunately, this one has also been destroyed by fire, reconstructed and again demolished by earthquakes, rebuilt and at last looted by Goths one year later.
The statue of many-breasted Artemis was the symbol of the temple but also of abundance, hunting and wild life. The genuine statue of Artemis, removed during the fire, is today exhibited in the Selcuk Museum. Many copies of this statue found during the latest excavations date back from the Roman period.
It is believed that the evangelist St. John had spent his last years in the region around Ephesus and buried in the southern slope of Ayosolug Hill. Three hundred years after the death of St. John, a small chapel was constructed over the grave in the 4th century. The church of St John was changed into a marvelous basilica during the region of Emperor Justinian (527 -565 AD).
St John or the Apostle John was the writer of the Fourth Gospel and the book of Revelation. The accounts of the Gospels agree that he is the son of Zebedee; together with his brother James, and began to follow Jesus while fishing in the Lake Galilee. He became one of Christ’s closest disciples and was with him on various significant events such as the Transfiguration and the Crucifixion. At his writings when Jesus was on his torture stake he said that : ‘Mother, this is your Son’. And to his beloved disciple, ‘this is Your Mother’(John 19:26-27).The beloved disciple is thought to have been St John.
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