Turkey's colourful past means that the nation is littered with historical sites dating from many centuries. The ancient city ruins of Ephesus are arguably the most well-known of them all, attracting many visitors every day.
According to mythology, Ionian prince Androclus established Ephesus in the 11th century BCE, but much of the settlement's early history is lost or uncertain. When the Lydian monarchs of western Anatolia ruled Ephesus in the 7th century BCE, more definite historical information about the city emerged.
Built by the order of Lydian King Croesus, Temple of Artemis has remained an important focal point of the settlement throughout the centuries. After being destroyed by arson in 356 BCE, the Temple of Artemis was rebuilt on a massive scale (four times the size of the Parthenon in Athens) and became one of the Ancient World's Seven Wonders. Unfortunately, the temple no longer exists as it was destroyed by a Christian mob in 5th century.
Ephesus was ruled by the Persians, Alexander the Great, the Egyptians, the Seleucid Kings, and the Romans during the ages. The majority of what is visible now at Ephesus dates from the Roman era, which lasted from 129 BCE to the 3rd century CE.
The city's population grew dramatically after the first Roman emperor Augustus relocated it to its current location and named it the capital of Asia Minor. It peaked at about 400,000 people in its heyday. By the first and second centuries AD, it rivaled Rome in terms of importance, but like other major cities, it succumbed to illness and a failing harbor.
The remains of the once-great metropolis continue to tell a magnificent story today, especially given their exceptional preservation throughout time. Visitors to Ephesus can walk along cobblestone lanes, watch archeological excavation and restoration in progress, marvel at the enormous amphitheater and facade of the Library of Celsus, and learn about the centuries of history here and across the Mediterranean and Aegean civilizations, thanks to its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015.