The ancient Ruins of Ephesus may have been removed from the 7 Wonders of the World list back in the mid ’70s, but that doesn’t make this famous historical and architectural site, located in what is now present-day Western Turkey, any less wonderful.
Legend has it that the city of Ephesus was founded in the 11th century BC by the Ionian prince Androclos after “the gods” gave him a vison of a fish, a frying pan, and a wild boar.
After that, this ancient city was conquered countless times, including by the empires of Persia, Rome, Byzantine and finally, the Ottomans.
The revolving door of lord and masters included a mix of tyrants and fair-minded rulers, with the most infamous ruler being Alexander the Great. Hailed as a conquering hero to the Ephesians, this may have been the only place where Alexander’s attempt at world domination during his short, but illustrious military career, was greeted with open arms.
There are numerous “must see” wonders at the Ruins of the Ephesus. These include the Celsus Library, the world’s third largest library decorated with amazing mosaics and frescoes; the Terrace Houses, aka “Houses of Rich” that actually had underfloor central heating; The Grand Amphitheater, the site of many ancient dramatic performances—including the brutal gladiator games—that today serves as a venue for world-class musical performances; The House of Virgin Mary, allegedly Jesus’ mother’s final address and now a shrine and the Great Basilica of St. John, the 6th century tomb of the Apostle John.
Ephesus played a significant role in early Christianity. Before the birth of Jesus, it was a mecca for pagan worshippers. But by the mid-1st century AD, the city had become an important hub of early Christian worship and teachings, the most significant teacher being the Apostle Paul. Paul’s famous letter to the Ephesians was penned while he was imprisoned in Rome, and it was the church in Ephesus that we read about in the Book of Revelation as the church that had “lost its first love.”
The ancient port city thrived for several centuries until the Giant Temple of Artemis was destroyed by raiding barbarian Goths sometime in the mid-3rd Century AD. Not long after, a massive earthquake destroyed the city.
The once-bustling economy of Ephesus was further wrecked when the harbor gradually “silted” over, ending its usefulness as a seaport. By the 15th century AD, the last of the Ephesians fled and its location was not rediscovered until 1869 during an expedition led by British engineer, John Turtle Wood.
Today, the crumbling city that was once considered the most important trading center in the Mediterranean region as well as an exciting cultural hub, attracts pilgrims of all types, and for good reason. It’s both a hotbed of early Christian evangelism, and an important archaeological site, making it if not one of the seven wonders of the world, certainly the eighth.
See the once-thriving seaport where the Apostle Paul evangelized, and where
the world met to trade goods. Visit the ancient Ruins of Ephesus!
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