Second day in Izmir

Visit to Ephesus Ancient City and House of Mother Mary.

On the second day of our meeting ,  we were in the House of Mother Mary and then Ephesus Ancient City.

The second day in Izmir offered an important and very interesting history lesson. We learned that Ephesus was the second most populated town in the Roman Empire for about 2000 years ago with 250 000 inhabitants. Before that Ephesus was the most important Greek city in Ionian Asia Minor, the ruins of which lie near the modern village of Selƈuk in western Turkey. A bus ride for about one hour from the school in Izmir. According to legend, Ephesus was founded by the Athenian royal son Androklos about 1100 BC, but probably was not colonized by Greeks until in the 6th century BC; the local goddess came to be identified with Artemis. King Croesus (he who invented the money) destroyed the city and moved it towards the northeast about 560 BC.

The Macedonian general Lysimachus re-founded it in about its former place and expanded the population by forced displacement. At his death, 281 BC, Ephesus become part of the Seleucid Empire, in 190 a city of Pergamum and 133 BC an urban area under Rome.

The city’s most glory period came during the imperial era, the inscription material is extensive, as you could see today during our walk through the city, and it later became an important centre for Christianity. In Roman times the town was situated on the northern slopes of the hills Coressus and Pion and south of the Cayster (Küçükmenderes) River, the silt from which has since formed a fertile plain but has caused the coastline to move ever farther west.

The city’s settlements lay between the hills of Panayir dağ and Bülbül dağ on either side of an angled marble-covered main street. The extensive ruins, mainly from Roman times, have been subject to Austrian excavations since 1894. The Temple of Artemis, or Diana, to which Ephesus owed much of its fame and which seems to mark the site of the classical Greek city, was probably on the seaboard when it was founded (about 600 BCE), one mile east by northeast of Pion (modern Panayir Daǧ). In Roman times, a sea channel was maintained with difficulty to a harbour well west of Pion. By late Byzantine times, this channel had become useless, and the coast by the mid-20th century was three miles farther west. Ephesus commanded the west end of one great trade route into Asia, that along the Cayster valley, and had easy access to the other two, along the Hermus (Gediz) and the Maeander (Büyükmenderes) rivers.

Ephesus had two squares, great temples to Serapis and Domitian, and one smaller to Hadrian, bouleuterion (city hall) and prytaneion (town hall), stadium and theater. Furthermore, there were high schools, well houses, bathing facilities and libraries. Near the harbor was the 260 m long Maria church, where the church meeting in 431 took place.

The Temple of Artemis, which was counted as one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, lies to the northeast of Ephesus on the outskirts of Selçuk. It was found by the Englishman J.T. Wood 1869 after a formal detective work; much of the architecture is in the British Museum.

In the year263 AD, Ephesus was plundered by the Goths and the Temple of Artemis was destroyed. The city lapsed as the river slammed again and the coastline was moved. The current shopping town of Selçuk was significant during the Seljuk period and is now an important tourist resort.

According to a tradition, the Virgin Mary lived in Ephesus at the end of her life. On a mountain south of the city there is a building which at the beginning of the 19th century was designated as Maria’s house by the German visionary A.K. Emmerich; under the name Meryem Ana, it has become an important pilgrimage site. Also from the Islamic period, there are memorials in Ephesus; below Ayasoluk is the Seljuq Isa-bey Mosque from the 11th century.

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