The planet is full of unique and amazing places. I personally make it a point to see as many as possible. Most of them are off the beaten path, places you may have never heard of. The fact is, most of the coolest places you can go are not the usual places you would think of like the Bahamas or the Grand Canyon. One of my favorite places I have ever visited is without a doubt Ephesus. Whether you love a beautiful view, Roman History, Bible history, Greek history, incredible food, or just about any other kind of history, you can find roots to it in Ephesus and Turkey (where Ephesus is located) in general.
Here are several reasons why you need to visit Ephesus in your lifetime.
When you are standing on the ancient stone streets of Ephesus surrounded by pillars carved by a diligent craftsman thousands of years ago, your breath can’t help but to catch. The broken pieces and ancient Greek writings are so full of mystery. Who wrote this, who made this symbol and why is there a lone foot carved into the street, and what hooligan did this act of what can only be a first century equivalent of a gang symbol spray painted onto a wall under a bridge (first evidence of the Foot Clan perhaps?).
I mean, Constantine the Great ruled here, it was the first Christian nation in the world (not the U.S. believe it or not), gladiators fought here, the “many-breasted Lady of Ephesus,” Artemis had a temple here (one of the Seven Wonders of the World … not the breasts, the temple), Alexander the Great conquered the city and was welcomed with great celebration, the Apostle Paul, and Timothy both lived in Ephesus. I could go on and on about so much more. All these things in this one place.
When you go to Ephesus, you aren’t just standing in some ugly, overgrown location that once must have been amazing, but has since been so overgrown and untended you can only imagine what it must have been. No, when you visit Ephesus today you can still walk the same streets and imagine the Roman soldier marching through. You can still go sit in the incredible amphitheater that could seat 25,000 people, you can touch the ancient statues and walk through the narrow streets.
Dear Lord is the food in Ephesus (and all of Turkey) amazing. I would fly back there right now for one of those Yogurt Kabobs (pictured above), and that I am totally serious about. There is a restaurant right outside of the ruins of Ephesus that serves great food. Although I will say if you rented a vehicle you can drive twenty or thirty minutes to one of the may nearby towns and probably get the same thing for cheaper. That said, wow is it worth it. I’ve been to some countries where the sights are amazing but the food is something like a live tarantula wrapped in a starfish. Or jellied moose nose. Yes, that’s a real thing.
Let me tell you something. You can go to all kinds of beautiful places in the world. But a trip to Israel is going to cost you up to $5,000 or more. I went on my two week trip to Turkey, saw all the sights, had great flights, stayed in nice placed (not five star hotels but not hostels either), for half that. Now, going with a full-on tour company will run you more, but my friend and I rented a car and drove from Kusadasa to Ephesus for about $40 (25 minutes), and then just paid our way in for 45 Turkish Lira (about $10 at that time), and spent pretty much the whole day there. If you go make sure you bring a bottle of water though, I didn’t because I thought I could buy water in the ruins, but it turns out all the shops are on the OUTSIDE and you have to leave to get them.
Aside from that we stayed in hotels with an average price of $30 ($15 per person). Food is cheap too. You can get a delicious pide for $3-$4.
Lastly, renting a car (our $40 car was overpriced, but we were in a hurry) or scooter is very reasonable in Turkey, and usually cheaper than taking taxis. For me, I didn’t know much of the language so buses were pretty terrifying because I had no idea when to get of or what to say TO get off, so renting a car was way more comfortable.
The Other Sights
Did I mention the main ruins of Ephesus are not the only amazing things to see in the Ephesus area? Oh, I didn’t? It’s a surprise bonus! That’s how I felt when I was driving away from Ephesus and saw a random little sign that said something about a “Grotto of the Seven Sleepers” and I suddenly realized there was MORE. We didn’t spend much time there, but from that little adventure not only did we learn that you can go visit that sight, but also St. John’s church nearby, and probably others I didn’t find out about.. To be honest I basically just got out of the car and asked about these places, but I now regret not going in. When I go next year I definitely will visit to a greater depth.
As you can clearly see, I absolutely loved my visit to Ephesus. I am already planning my trip back and am super excited about seeing more and exploring as much as I can. It is breath-taking for anyone. I would defy any human to go in and not be amazed by it. Only the too-cool teenager could even pretend not to be in fat-guy-in-Dairy-Queen-on-a-hot-summer’s-day glee in Ephesus. And I know, I was just in Dairy Queen yesterday and I was getting all kinds of looks.