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.

Ephesus Street

The main commercial street in Ephesus, which connected the upper and lower parts of the city. Shops would have lined both sides. Rich merchants lived above or behind their shops, so this would have been a classy neighborhood.

Ephesus Temple

The Temple of Hadrian, showing Roman influence.

Ephesus Bathroom

Public bathrooms. Not much privacy!

Ephesus Library

The Library of Celsus, which sits at the intersection of the merchant street and the theater street. It's a really impressive building that's had some nice restoration work done. There might have even been a third story above the two still standing. You'll notice that the upper story is shorter than the lower - this was a purposeful design to create the optical illusion of the building being taller than it really was. Lots of statues and inscriptions can still be found throughout.

Ephesus Theater

The view from the top of the theater. This was the main source of entertainment and social life for the Ephesians. It's massive - bigger than any other ancient theater I've been to. You can also see the long road heading out to where the harbor was.

Ephesus Theater

This is looking back at the theater. The huge building is the first thing a boat entering the harbor would see.

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.

Temple of Artemis

The remains of the Temple of Artemis, a lone column standing in the middle of a swamp.

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.

Basilica of St. John the Apostle

One of the entrances to the Basilica of St. John the Apostle. The building must've had some pretty impressive domes, but the roof is totally gone now.

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.