Ancient city of Ephesus meets sea again

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The ancient Greek city of Ephesus, one of the premier tourist sites in Turkey readies to have a harbor on the Aegean coast again. Ephesus used to have a harbor on the Aegean coast, İzmir Culture and Tourism Provincial Director Abdülaziz Ediz recently told Anatolian news agency. The city’s importance as a commercial center declined as the harbor was slowly silted up by the Cayster River (Küçük Menderes). 

Ancient city of Ephesus meets sea again
The Library of Celsus at Ephesus [Credit: Wikimedia]

Ediz said they had been working to realize a project called “Ephesus Reunion with the Sea” with the support of the Culture and Tourism Ministry, as well as the Transportation, Maritime Affairs and Communications Ministry. Currently, the city’s distance is six kilometer to the sea. 

Noting that the project was launched in 2012, the official said: “We are conducting the works within the scope of a common project and under the direction of the Transportation, Maritime Affairs and Communications Ministry. The transportation from Ephesus Harbor to the Pamucak Coast [on the Aegean] will be possible with boats. Our aim is to revive history again. Recreation areas will be established with proper landscaping. We want to make the ancient city of Ephesus more attractive to tourists. 

The visitors will have a chance to live the experiences and ambiance of the old times.” Ediz, however, said it was not currently possible to give any indication as to when the project would be completed. Although Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay recently announced that tourist numbers to Turkey as a whole through the first seven months of the year had declined close to 2 million on the back of regional tensions in Syria and Israel, visitor numbers to Ephesus continue to increase. 

Welcoming more than 1 million tourists 

This year welcomed more than 1 million tourists in the first seven months of the year, Ephesus is bringing in 4.6 million Turkish Liras in revenue. 

Some 1,023,000 tourists visited the ancient city along between Jan. 1 and July 31, İzmir Culture and Tourism Provincial Director Abdülaziz Ediz recently told Anatolian news agency. The ancient city possesses a 6,000-year-old past and has hosted many important civilizations throughout its history, Ediz said, adding that excavation works have been continuing in the region for the last 110 years. 

One of the most significant benefits of Ephesus is that it serves as an “advertisement” for Turkey, the provincial director said, adding that visitors coming to the region contributed to economy with specific expenditures like eating and accommodation. 

Important site for early Christianity 

The city was famed for the Temple of Artemis (completed around 550 B.C.), one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Emperor Constantine I rebuilt much of the city and erected new public baths. Following the Edict of Thessalonica from emperor Theodosius I, the temple was destroyed in 401 A.D. by a mob led by St. John Chrysostom. The town was partially destroyed by an earthquake in 614 A.D. The city’s importance as a commercial center declined as the harbor was slowly silted up by the Cayster River (Küçük Menderes). 

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Ephesus, which is today a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was one of the seven churches of Asia that are cited in the Book of Revelation, and the Gospel of John may have been written in the ancient city. The city was also the site of several fifth-century Christian councils. 

Today’s archaeological site lies three kilometers southwest of the town of Selçuk in the south of İzmir. The ruins of Ephesus are a favorite international and local tourist attraction, partly owing to their easy access from Adnan Menderes Airport and via the port of Kuşadası.  

Source: Hurriyet Daily News [August 23, 2012]

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