The Location and Environment of Ephesus

Part 2 of series:
Ancient Ephesus and the New Testament

The Location and Environment of Ephesus

Ephesus, or what is left of it, lies on the western edge of modern day Turkey, just about five miles inland from the Aegean coast. The picture to the right shows the location of Ephesus. It is close to the modern town of Selcuk. Most tourists visit Ephesus by way of the port city of Kusadasi, which is about a 45-minute drive from Ephesus. The countryside between these two cities is fertile, lush with agriculture. It reminded me of farmlands inland from San Diego, California.

Given the current location of Ephesus, you might be surprised to learn that it was once a major port city. No, Ephesus didn’t move, or not much, anyway. Ancient cities did tend to move around a bit. When a city burned down, they’d rebuild it nearby. Ephesus was no exception. But it wasn’t a change of location that made Ephesus a port city. Rather, it was the changing shoreline. In ancient times, Ephesus had a harbor, such that the city went right up to the water. But sediment from the Cayster River eventually filled in the harbor. (The photo to the right shows the location of the ancient harbor, with the ruins of the city in the center and foreground of the picture.)

Ephesus itself lies in a valley. It is protected by steep hills on either side. In days gone by, this would have helped to guard the city from enemy attack. The valley also adds to the beauty of the location, even today.

One of the most famous of Ephesus’s ancient structures, the Temple of Artemis, was not located in the center of the city as it was found in Roman times. Rather, the Artemision was a mile or so out of town. All that remains of the temple is a single pillar, which lies just to the left of the center of the picture to the right. (In the photo to the right, Ephesus lies on the other side of the two low hills in the middle of the picture, and at the bottom of the larger hill in the background. If you look carefully at the center of the picture, you can see the single pillar that remains of the Temple of Artemis. Ironically, you can see much more of this Temple in the British Museum or in the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.)

Tomorrow, we’ll begin our online photo tour of Ephesus.


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