Ephesus, an ancient Roman city in the Anatolian region of Turkey, was an extremely large and important port city during the time of the Roman Empire. Its origins actually date to the time of Alexander the Great, about 400 B.C., and its influence continued unabated until about 600 A.D. Due to the receding of the Mediterranean Sea, Ephesus is now almost 7 miles from the coast, so access is normally via the coastal city of Kusadasi. Ephesus is remarkably well preserved, considering that it has been abandoned for so long. The city streets are made of marble. Tours usually begin at the highest point, the Government Center, which includes the Town Hall, Agora, etc, and then visitors walk downhill toward what used to be the port. Some of the notable and best preserved structures include the Celsius Library, one of the three major libraries of the ancient world, (along with Alexandria and Pergamum), the Fountain of Trajan, a two-story structure which reminds visitors of the Trevi Fountain in Rome, and the Amphitheater, one of the largest remaining from ancient times, and which is still in use today for summer concerts. Recent archaeological excavations have revealed human bones near the Amphitheater, so historians believe that gladiatorial combat was conducted here as well as theater.
Ephesus also has some religious significance as well. The disciple, John, came here as did St Paul, who preached in the Amphitheater (remember his Letters to the Ephesians). Mary, the mother of Jesus, had a house just outside the city. The city is also famous as the location of one of the original “seven wonders of the world”. The Temple of Artemis was nearby.
Near the top stair of the walk down to the Celsius Library is what many call the first-ever advertisement. The symbols, etched into the marble, point prospective male clients toward the area of the city frequented by prostitutes.