Ephesus lies near the modem town of Selcuk, a short
distance from Kusadasi. Dolmus run regularly from Kusadasi to Selcuk,
and stop at Ephesus, so it is an easy matter to visit some of the
most impressive ruins in Turkey. Alternatively, take one of the many
organised tours available.
Ephesus lies on the Plain of Cayster, where at one time it had an
outlet to the sea. The silt carried down by the river Cayster caused
the site to be moved further and further westwards as the sea
receded from the original site. The ruins you see today are
Hellenistic, with a Roman overlay acquired after Rome made Ephesus
the capital of the province.
The original site, occupied by Lydians and Carians, was on the
northern slope of ancient Mt Pion (Paniyir Dagi). The lonians
arrived in 1000 BC and occupied the site. The new settlers modified
an existing shrine to Cybele, the Anatolian mother goddess, and made
it a shrine to Artemis, the Greek fertility goddess. The town
prospered until King Croesus of Lydia destroyed it, in 550 BC, and
forcibly moved the lonians to the plain below.
Ephesus survived Alexander's conquest and the squabbling that went
on amongst his successors. Its greatest period of prosperity began
when it was made capital of the Roman province of Asia.
As the Roman capital, it became the principal commercial city of
Asia, supported by its excellent harbour. In it was erected one
of the two wonders of the world to stand in Asia Minor, the temple
of Artemis. (The other was the mausoleum in Halicarnassus.) The
temple was rebuilt many times, the most famous occasion being after
365 BC, when Herostratus burnt it down in order that he
might achieve immortality. (He did - his name is remembered to
this day.) The rebuilt temple was enormous, four times the size of
the Parthenon, and was ranked among the seven wonders of the world
by Philo of Byzantium. It was destroyed by the Goths when they
sacked Ephesus in 263 AD.