Ionian Coast

Most magnificent of all is ancient Ephesus, site of another of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Temple of Artemis. Famed from earliest times as a centre for the worship of Cybele, the great Mother Goddess, it grew to be the most important port of the Aegean – with a population of some quarter of a million people – as well as being a place for Christian pilgrimage. It is said that the Virgin Mary lived out her life nearby, and that St John the Evangelist came here from Patmos to look after her. Among the highlights of this extensive site are the façade of the Celsus Library, two stories high and decorated with columns and statues, the theater seating 24,000 spectators and two private houses built for rich Ephesians, complete with mosaic floors and vivid frescoes.

Library of Celsus, Ephesus

Private Houses, Ephesus


Further north lies a choice between the hillside city of Priene, the theater of Miletus and the massive Temple of the Oracle at Didyma, famed almost on a par with Delphi for its prophetic powers. The Oracle was particularly fond of predicting the rise of future rulers, and it was in thanks for this honour that Alexander the Great ordered the temple to be rebuilt in the 4th century BC. Imagine the awe with which those consulting the oracle must have approached its shrine, surrounded by 108 20m-high columns.


Halicarnassus was just one of a group of towns that made up ancient Caria. Indeed Mausolus originally came from Mylasa, modern day Milas, and it is to Milas that one must return to begin an exploration of the ruins. Here, well signposted from the centre of town, is the Gumuskesen or Slipper Tomb, an intact mausoleum of fragile beauty said to be influenced by, though on a far smaller scale, the great mausoleum of Halicarnassus. The town itself contains crumbling Ottoman town-houses and traditional han courtyards, where merchants would lodge on the night of the all-important market, stabling their pack animals below.

Map - Byzantine Chapel - Halicarnassus
Ionian Coast - Inner Ionia - Carian Coast