Have you heard of the ruins in Ephesus, Turkey? Well, you should have.
They’re my favourite ruins that I’ve ever visited, and I’ve been lucky enough to explore quite a few. I’ve been to Pompeii in Italy, the Acropolis and Parthenon in Greece, and The Forum in Rome - some of the most famous and well-known ruins in the world. So why is Ephesus my favourite, and why have so few people even heard of it?
Ephesus can be found near the port of Kusadasi on the west coast of Asia Minor. It was a city of more than quarter of a million people in the 1st century BC and the scale of it is truly awe-inspiring. When you first walk through the gates you’re confronted by what seems little more than a pile of old rocks but walk a little further and you’ll find arches, pillars, amphitheatres and whole buildings that have been excavated and restored to their former glory.
Having visited Ephesus before (yes it’s so good I’ve been twice!) I knew what to expect, but I found myself noticing things I hadn’t before, and being even more impressed by this amazing city. Some parts have been so well restored that you can truly imagine walking the streets thousands of years ago, and seeing local people going about their daily business. Ephesus was once a port, although it now sits a few kilometres inland, and as such it was a wealthy and prosperous location. This is reflected in the ostentatious and impressive architecture.
One of my favourite parts of Ephesus is The Library of Celsus. The first view you get of it is from the top of the wide, marble street which leads downhill towards the library. It is from this point that I was able to truly understand the scale, and the wealth, of a city which had this stunning library. I was stunned by how they could build something so magnificent and imposing thousands of years ago with primitive techniques and no technology to aid them.
It amazes me how they were able to build something this beautiful thousands of years ago, but also saddens me because I know our generation won’t leave anything this incredible behind. Sure the Burj Khalifa is pretty damn tall and London’s Millenium Dome was pretty cool when it was first built, but can it ever really compare to something like this? I don’t think so.
My other favourite part of Ephesus is The Great Theatre. You see it first up close, but it is best viewed from a distance. It is an amphitheatre able to seat 25,000 people. It was used for religious talks, concerts, plays and gladiator fights and is still used for concerts to this day. The sheer size of it is so impressive.
I recommend going to Ephesus first thing in the morning when it opens as it gets very busy and if you’re visiting in the summer months the sun is unrelenting and there is little shade. They also only accept Turkish Lira at the entrance gates.