One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World was the Temple of Artemis (Artemsion) at Ephesus. Although not much remains of this spectacular temple today, Ephesus has plenty of well-preserved ruins from the ancient city. Founded by the Greeks in around 1000 BC, Ephesus was the capital of Asia during the Roman empire and its building were monumental. The city was also a center of Christianity, where the apostles John and Paul lived and preached. At Ephesus, kids can see Roman life up close, the ruins are extensive and accessible.
Archeological ruins -
Tip: There are two entrances to the archeological ruins, the upper and lower entrances. The big car park is at the lower entrance, but if you start at the upper entrance, you can walk down the hill.
- As you start in to the ruins, make your first stop the theater, which has been restored so it's in great shape. Climb up and look out over the whole city. Kids can imagine boats docking at the old harbor to the north (all silted up so it's no longer visible), the agora marketplaces thronging with people, well-built houses, fountains, temples and baths along paved streets.
- Continue to Marble Street, stopping to check out the Roman public latrines, very spiffy and modern looking marble toilets. Seating was very social, and running water available. Romans didn't use toilet paper, but they had sponge sticks.
Library of Celsus
- You can't miss the multi-story Library of Celsus. Built in the 2nd century AD, the library had a huge collection, thousands of rolled-up manuscripts. The library is decorated with four large statues that represent Knowledge, Wisdom, Intelligence, and Virtue. In its day, the Library of Celsus was state-of-the-art, with clever ways to preserve the manuscripts; however, the manuscripts were all burned up when the Goths came through town. Kids can compare this library to your library at home …
- In the covered area, check out the terrace houses where the bigwigs and their families lived. These houses had mosaics on the floors, marble columns, murals on the walls, courtyards with cooling fountains and restful gardens. The frescoes, in bright ochre and red, look remarkably fresh, and the black and geometric mosaics are beautifully preserved.
Ephesus Museum -
In town, it's well worth a stop into this museum to see the original artifacts from archeological ruins at Ephesus. The big attraction is the room with two boggling statues of Artemis
(Diana), decorated with rows of tiny lions and other animals. Also, don't miss an exquisite Eros riding a dolphin and a chubby boy Eros holding a rabbit.
Artemision (Temple of Artemis)
- Just beyond the museum, between the town and the ruins, stop to look at one lone column standing in the middle of a large field. Kids will just have to imagine the majestic Temple of Artemis, 377 ft long, 180 ft. wide, 59 ft. high (larger than the Parthenon), with many columns of gleaming white marble. The temple was burned down in 356 BC, rebuilt, but later wrecked by the Goths, and dismantled by the Byzantines in the 5th century AD.
Selcuk Castle (Ayasuluk Citadel)
- For a change of pace, walk up the road so see the huge stone fortress on the hill above the town. Originally built by the Byzantines to protect against raiders, what you see is improvements by the Seljuk and Ottoman Turks. The castle has lots of excellent crennelations and fifteen towers around the castle walls, but is closed until 2012.