Kusadasi Ephesus – Image courtesy of azamaraclubcruises.com

Top Attractions in Kusadasi

Discover a choice of must-see Kusadasi attractions, which are also some of the world’s greatest sites of antiquity, just a short drive away from the resort town, including…

Ephesus

(Efes) – Explore one of the most evocative archaeological sites in the world. Stroll marble-paved avenues that lead to remarkably well-preserved ruins and partially reconstructed buildings.

See grooves in the ground made by chariot wheels and admire an amazing collection of Roman ruins, including a 1st century AD stadium, where gladiators met wild beasts in combat before 70,000 spectators and a 25,000-seat 2nd century AD theatre lined with rows of curved bench seats that are still used annually in May during the music and dance performances of the Selçuk Ephesus Festival.

Marvel at the stunning two-storey Library of Celsus, where you can still see rolls of papyrus in the ancient reading room. See slender columns of marble on the Arcadian Way and wander down the Street of Kuretes to a large house believed to have been a brothel and containing a mosaic floor depicting three women.

Admire the Corinthian columns and serpent-headed hydra on the facade of the Temple of Hadrian and ponder the collapsed row of columns that once supported the vast Temple of Domitian.

Visit also the Upper Agora (market), the Magnesian Gate and the Odeon, where spectators once listened to poetry readings and music.

Plan on at least four hours for a casual stroll through this immense site and double that for a comprehensive visit to all the sites.

Doomed by the silting of its harbour in 6th century, the city of Ephesus relocated to what is now known as Selcuk. Ephesus is just 20km north of Kusadasi.


Selcuk

Explore the 15 towers, mosque and cisterns of the ancient fortress, then stroll through the marble courtyards and halls of the impressive Basilica of St John, built atop the 2nd century tomb believed to have once held the body of St John the Evangelist.

At the Ephesus Müzesi (Ephesus Museum), which houses some of the finest collections of Roman and Greek artefacts found anywhere in Turkey, see two white statues from the 7th century BC Temple of Artemis – once one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

Or visit the actual site on the Selcuk–Ephesus road to see a lone column soaring over a rubble-strewn green field – all that remains of a temple that was once four times the size of the Parthenon in Athens.

Other fragments from the temple were ‘borrowed’ to build the Isa Bey Cami (Isa Bey Mosque), one of the oldest mosques in Turkey, dating from 1375. Visit in January to witness the annual camel wrestling festival.


House of the Virgin Mary

(Meryemana) Pay your respects or simply visit out of curiosity, at this small church built atop an ancient house believed by many to have been the place where St John took the mother of Jesus following the crucifixion. Mass is celebrated here every morning.

The surrounding national park is filled with natural springs said to cure all sorts of ailments; it is usually crowded with pilgrims. Meryemana is 5km south of Ephesus, Selcuk.


Pamukkale

See mineral-rich hot volcanic spring water cascade over nature-sculpted basins and terraces, crystallising into calcium-rich curtains of solidified water. The stunning chalky white cliffs of Pamukkale rise 100m above the surrounding plains.

Some of the hot spring water, believed to cure rheumatism and other ailments, has been diverted to fill thermal pools in nearby luxury hotels.

Go swimming in the effervescent waters of the Sacred Pool, which sits in the middle of a lush garden and is the main source for the eternal springs feeding the terraced basins.

The thermal water maintains a temperature of 35°C, so you can feel comfortable taking a hot dip even in the cold of January. Pamukkale and nearby Hierapolis combine to form a UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site.


Hierapolis

Explore the ancient city of Hierapolis, founded in 190 BC and famous for its Roman ruins, which include: the thermal baths; the Temple of Apollo; the monumental fountain of Nymphaion, dating from the 4th century AD; and a 2nd century AD Roman theatre that is still used for performances during the Festival of Pamukkale, held in late May.

Hike up to the Martyrium of St Philip to see remains of a church built on the site where Philip is believed to have been martyred.

Ponder the monumental 1st century triple Arch of Domitian, stroll among 1000 cut-stone sarcophagi in the city’s vast necropolis (cemetery) and see a fine collection of marble statues at the Pamukkale Müzesi – a stone building that once enclosed Hierapolis's baths.


Aphrodisias

Explore this ancient site crammed with some of the best-preserved examples of Hellenistic culture in Turkey.

Admire the 1st century BC Temple of Aphrodite, the Portico of Tiberius, the Baths of Hadrian and the immense (262m-long and 59m-wide) Stadium of Aphrodisias, a one-time Olympic-size swimming pool. Aphrodisias is 41km from Pamukkale and 130km north of Kusadasi.


Priene

Scramble over of the ruins of this ancient Greek city dating back to 300 BC. Visit the oldest remains at the Temple of Athena, which crowns the highest point of the city atop Mount Mykale, together with a small Greek theatre featuring typical ‘armchair’-style seating.

Don’t miss the square-shaped bouleuterion (Senate House), with its rather modest 640-tiered seating. Priene is 38km from Kusadasi.


Miletus

Discover this vast site – larger even than Ephesus and mainly overgrown with shrubs. Miletus is famous as the home of ancient scholars, philosophers and scientists such as Miletus, who gave the alphabet to the classical world, and Thales, who calculated the precise time of the solar eclipse.

Ponder the remains of the Roman Theatre and the Baths of Faustina, among other Hellenistic and Roman remains.

Miletus is 22km from Priene and 60km from Kusadasi.


Didyma

Admire the 6th century BC Temple of Apollo (or Didymaion), once the largest building of its time with columns towering more than 20m high and still mainly intact.

Didyma is 22km from Miletus and 82km from Kusadasi.


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Latest update: Kusadasi Attractions: 29 November, 2019


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