We began a big day with brunch at the hotel before a long drive through country roads meandering between tree-lined hills. We eventually arrived at the ruins of Ephesus, a city that had been at the center of the economic and cultural life of antiquity. It was eventually abandoned as the river to its harbor dried up. Now it's a great example of what a prospering city was like back then.
While not as large as Pompeii or even Bet She'An, it does have some buildings in better repair, and some almost fully restored, making it a must-see for any tourist in the region. In particular, the theater and the library were major highlights I really enjoyed.
Once we finished wandering through the ruins, we went across the street to the Temple of Artemis, which was one of the seven wonders of the world. Sadly, it's mostly an empty swamp right now. There are a few pillars partially standing, but the site really has nothing noteworthy about it. This convinced me that visiting the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus - the last of the ancient wonders I hadn't been to I could possibly see - was not worth it, as that building is reportedly in even worse condition.
Beyond the temple lies the ruins of the Basilica of St. John the Apostle, which includes the claimed final resting spot of that man. It was built by the Byzantines about 1500 years ago, making it the youngest ruin in the area.
It was a great day for exploring the history of the region, seeing firsthand how the economic, political, and religious powers throughout time influenced the architecture of different buildings in such close proximity.