SELÇUK — Around Selçuk

Most of the sights to be seen in Selçuk are close to the town and can be toured in one or two days.

The sights found here are:
Ayasoluk Hill
Basilica of St John the Apostle
Isa Bey Mosque
Ephesus Museum
Temple of Artemis
House of the Virgin Mary

Ayasoluk Hill

Ayasoluk Hill
This hill dominates the town of Selçuk and is the first point you should head for when visiting this area. You enter the hill from the Gate of Persecution which was named after a relief of Achilles that was once found here. It was believed that his relief depicted the martyrdom of Christians in the amphitheatre found in nearby Ephesus. On this hill is the Basilica of St John the Apostle. The view from the hill over the surrounding countryside is stunning and the shady trees provide relief from the sun on a hot day.

Basilica of St John the Apostle

Basilica of St John the Apostle
This basilica was built by Justinian 1 in the 6th century over the site of two former churches. The basilica which was one of the largest and most ornate Byzantium churches as well as being regarded as one of the most holiest churches until 1402 when it was destroyed. It has been partially reconstructed and today you will find various colonnades and walls in place. The tomb of St John can be found there under the slab on what was formerly the altar. Next to the nave is the Baptistry.

Isa Bey Mosque

Isa Bey Mosque
This late 14th century mosque is a cross between Selçuk and Ottaman styles. Notable features are the courtyard where most of the congregation would have worshipped and stalactite vaulting over the entrance. It has been restored in recent times but two of the original minarets and the ablutions fountain are long gone. Inside the main hall is a high gabled roof supported by Roman columns and some fine tiles in the south dome.

Ephesus Museum
This museum is found near the entrance to the Basilica of St John. It displays excavations from the ancient city of Ephesus. The main highlights of the museum are the two staues of Artemis and the frescoes and mosaics. The first exhibit is the Room of Findings from Houses which displays artefacts from the Slope Houses which were owned by the upper class Ephesians. Many household items were found and some of the more interesting ones include a bronze statue of Eros with the Dolphin from a 2nd century fountain as well as a 3rd century frescoe of the philosopher Socrates. There is also a Room of Findings from Fountains which as the name suggest displays sculptures and ornaments from some of the city’s fountains. Some of the highlights include the headless figure of Aphrodite and the head of Zeus. One of the most impressive sections is the one dedicated to Artemis with its two magnificent statues of the goddess dating from the 1st and 2nd centuries AD. There are many more wonderful statues in the courtyards including a reconstruction of the Temple of Augustus. The final exhibit is one of the best and it contains the magnificent statues which used to decorate the friezes of the Temple of Hadrian from the 2nd century AD. The frieze depicts the founding of Ephesus, the birth of the cult of Artemis, and the flight of the Amazons. Some of the original sections are now in Vienna.
For information about the museum visit the following website at: http://www.selcuk.bel.tr

Traveller's Tip

It is probably better to see this museum before visiting the Ephesus site to give you a better understanding.
Temple of Artemis

Temple of Artemis
If you walk two or three hundred metres past the Ephesus Museum on the righthand side of the road leading to Ephesus from Selçuk and towards Isa Bey Mosque you will see a large hole. The Temple of Artemis used to stand over this hole. The Artemis Temple was destroyed and rebuilt three times throughout its history which is thought to originate in the Bronze Age. It was eventually destroyed in 401. Today you can only see the ruins of the foundations but the best remains of this temple can be found in the British Museum in London. Other remnanats are found in the Ephesus Museum and the Archaeology Museum in Istanbul. The temple is known as one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. The statue of Artemis was the symbol of the temple and the original can be found in the Ephesus Museum.

House of the Virgin Mary

House of the Virgin Mary This stone house built in a typical Roman-style of architecture is found at Meryemana which is around 8 kilometres from the centre of Ephesus. It is thought to be the place where the Virgin Mary spent her final days having been bought here by St John the Evangelist in 37AD. The house was discovered in the 19th century following on from visions that were experienced by Anne Catherine Emmerich who was a Roman Catholic nun and visionary. The house has never been pronounced authentic by the relevant authorities due to lack of acceptable evidence but it is still visited and revered by both Muslims and Christians. The spring under the house is believed to have healing properties. The house has been visited by several Roman Catholic popes who although they haven’t necessarily prounced its authenticity nevertheless see it as a holy place. A religious ceremony is held here every year on the 15th of August.