Selçuk is a town in the Central Aegean region of Turkey, with a population of 36,360 in 2018. It's the original site of the city of Ephesus - those Roman ruins lie 4 km west and are described on a separate page.
An unremarkable mound 2 km south indicates settlement hereabouts from 7000 BC, the very oldest of towns. Ancient Ephesus was a port on the coast, above a wetland estuary, but the river continually shifted its course and silted up so the city struggled to retain its sea access, vital to its prosperity. The wetland was also none too good for human health or for building on, and from about 290 AD Ephesus migrated 3 km west and downstream. There it was embellished in the Roman era into the remarkable place that draws tourists to this day. It was also a major religious centre, with an early Christian population.
The new Ephesus in turn fell into ruin as the coast continued to retreat - the sea is now 15 km away at the resort of Kuşadası. A backwater settlement continued, as there was a fertile hinterland with overland routes. From the 10th century the area fell under the control of the Selçuk Turkish dynasty, from which the modern town takes its name. They were supplanted in the 14th by the Ottomans. The town never became large or industrial so many of its antiquities were preserved.
Get in Edit
By plane Edit
The nearest commercial airport is Izmir Adnan Menderes (ADB IATA), which has daily flights from Istanbul and Ankara, and occasionally from Europe. It's 55 km north of Selçuk, and both are on the IZBAN suburban railway so you don't have to travel into central Izmir and out again - see below.
The IZBAN railway extension, completed in 2017, took away most of the traffic from the local dolmuşes and airport shuttles, so these are nowadays less frequent.
By train Edit
Selçuk is the south terminus of IZBAN the Izmir suburban railway. The Green Line runs north-south from Aliağa (for Bergama), Hatundre (for Foça), downtown Izmir (where Hilal is the main interchange), Adnan Menderes Airport, and Tepeköy where you change to the Southern Extension train every 90 min to Selçuk. The trip from downtown is about an hour. Consider buying an İzmirim Kart[dead link].
A TCDD regional train (look for bölgesel) runs six times a day from Izmir Basmane via the airport and Tepeköy, taking 90 min to Selçuk and continuing via Çamlık, Aydın and a dozen other places to Denizli (another 3 hr, for Pamukkale).
The Göller Express also calls at Selçuk on the way between Isparta and Izmir, but in the early hours of the morning.
- 1 Selçuk railway station (Selçuk Tren İstasyonu), Abuhayat Cd.
By bus Edit
Buses run six times a day direct from Istanbul Esenler, taking 8-9 hours via Izmir, for a fare in 2022 of 520 TL. Operators are Pamukkale and Flixbus. Or you may find it more convenient to change in Izmir, which has frequent buses round the clock from Istanbul, Ankara and elsewhere.
- 2 Selçuk bus station (Selçuk Otogarı) (Centrally located, junction of roads D550 and D515.).
Get around Edit
Dolmuşes towards Kuşadası pass the lower gate of Ephesus. To reach the House of Mary look for a tour, else you may need to take a taxi.
Rented motorbikes or scooters can be a fun way to explore the area around Selçuk. Or cycle, but Şirince and the House of Mary are up in the hills.
ESHOT Bus 770 runs from Selçuk via Belevi (for Goat Castle) to Torbalı (for Izban) M-F hourly and Sa Su every 2 hours. It's cashless so you need an Izmirim Kart.
In town Edit
- 1 Ephesus Archaeological Museum, Uğur Mumcu Sevgi 26, ☏ . Daily mid Apr-Sept 08:00-20:00, Oct-mid Apr 08:00-17:00. An excellent collection of ancient statues, pottery, glass, sarcophagi and coins found around Ephesus. Also displayed is the cult of the Anatolian mother goddess in her guises from Kybele to poly-breasted Artemis. Adult 50 TL.
- 2 Temple of Artemis, once renowned as one of the "Seven Wonders" of the ancient world, is just a reconstructed solitary column, free to access. This stood in "Temple E", the fifth known structure, built 350-250 BC on a difficult swampy site, and the high water table has impeded excavation. Artemis was the Grecian deity known as Diana to the Romans, presiding over virginity, fertility, childbirth, the moon and hunting, a combination all the more remarkable given the size of her noisy entourage. She gives her name to the Artemis project to land a crewed spacecraft at the moon's south pole in 2024.
- 3 Byzantine Citadel and St John Basilica, St Jean Cd (enter from south by the Aqueduct). Daily Apr-Oct 08:00-19:00, Nov-Mar 08:00-17:00. Ayasuluk hill was the original site of Ephesus. The fortifications you now see were built in the 7th century against Arab raids, and the citadel continued in use until the entire site was wrecked by the Mongols under Tamerlane in 1402 AD. The basilica is older, completed in 565 AD over the site of a chapel and grave of St John the Apostle. He is believed to have died in Ephesus towards 100 AD: he wrote three New Testament Epistles and is traditionally credited as the author of St John's Gospel. (He isn't the author of Revelation, by the later St John of Patmos.) The site was partly reconstructed in the 21st century. Adult 25 TL.
- The aqueduct ruins are Byzantine and stand 15 m tall, coursing west from the railway station towards Ayasuluk hill. They're crowned with storks' nests and floodlit at night.
- 4 İsa Bey Mosque, St Jean Cd. Daily 09:30-21:30. Impressive mosque built in 1374 in the reign of Isa Bey Mehmed, ruler of the Princpality of Aydin, and modelled on the Great Mosque of Damascus. It fell into ruin in the 19th century but was rebuilt in 1975. Free.
- İsabey Hamam was the associated bathhouse 100 m south of the mosque. It's dilapidated and fenced off.
Further out Edit
- 5 Ephesus upper gate off D550 is the usual entry point to that complex, but you can enter or exit by either.
- 6 Ephesus lower gate is usually the exit, but it's on D515 with public transport so you might enter that way.
- 7 Cave of the Seven Sleepers, Acarlar. Closed. This is east side of Ephesus but not within the ticketed area. It's a series of catacombs, part of the Roman city necropolis - only the highest nobles were buried within city limits. The area is free to access but a gate bars entry to the tombs. They were excavated in 1927 and findings are now in the Selçuk Ephesus museum. There's little to see here, the main attraction is the legend of the "Seven Sleepers", true believers who hid or were immured here circa 250 AD in a time of religious persecution. They re-emerged 300 years later, blinking in the sunlight to find Christianity blossomed into the official Roman religion, occasion for hallelujahs and high-fives. But these guys slept around - Ephesus is just one of seven sites with the same legend, from China to Tunisia. Best documented is the cave in al-Rajib district of Amman, Jordan, where according to the Surah al-Kahf (18th book of the Qur'an) the seven were accompanied by a dog, the one thing you will see here.
- 8 Çukuriçi Höyük means "mound in the valley" which sums it up: it's not much to look at, but is important. This tell is the heaped remains of settlements back to 7000 BC, at the dawn of Anatolian civilisation. It was excavated 2006-2016 and you may see its findings in the town museum.
- 9 House of the Virgin Mary (Meryem Ana Evi) (From Ephesus south gate continue south). Daily 08:00-18:00. Mary mother of Jesus was present at the crucifixion and almost certainly lived out her remaining life in or near Jerusalem, where there are monuments to her death and ascent to heaven. However another legend has her dwelling in Ephesus, based on John 19:26-27 whren Jesus on the cross enjoins "the disciple whom he loved" (signifying John the apostle) to look after Mary, and for her to regard John as her son. John likely moved to Ephesus but lived to a considerable age long after Mary. There was a local tradition of pilgrimage to this site, but it only came into the mainstream when Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774-1824) a German nun on her sickbed began recounting visions of a fantastical and anti-semitic nature, including the final days of Mary in Ephesus. These were recorded by Clemens Brentano, with descriptions of the house and how to find it, but he barely understood Emmerich's Westfälisch dialect and reconstructed much of it later, aided by maps and travel accounts of Ephesus, then known but unexcavated. His account published in 1852 prompted a search for the site and pilgrimage from Europe. The church studiously avoided pronouncing on the visions but beatified Emmerich, and three popes have visited the shrine.
- 10 Çamlık 12 km south of town has a railway museum, with a great collection of old steam locomotives. It's open daily 08:30-17:30 and you can get there by train.
- 11 Cittantica Ephesus Park is so bad it's almost fascinating. It's a cod-classical photo set so that couples can have their wedding photos taken as if at Ephesus but without the milling tourists, dust and trash to spoil the image - how come the ancient city architects never thought of this? The site is closed in 2022.
- 12 Belevi is a village on the bus and rail route to Izmir. 3 km east of it, the Belevi Mausoleum is a royal burial vault from around 300 BC. On the hill west is the ruin of Keçi Kalesi, Goat Castle.
- 13 Şirince is a picturesque village in the hills 9 km east of Selçuk, see separate page.
- Beach: Pamucak is closest, the most northerly of the Kuşadası resort strip. Follow D515 west, and continue west when the highway turns sharply south.
- Skydive: Efes centre and airfield are next to Ephesus north gate. The usual jump for a beginner is a tandem freefall coupled to an instructor, so minimum training, fitness and skill are needed.
- West of the railway station is the main concentration, with Nur, Ejder (below), Okumus Mercan, Köşem, Efes, Köylum, Seçkin Firuze, Tat Cafe, Eski Ev, Dönercim Ümit, Pınar Pide & Çöp Şiş and Gaziantep Kebab Salonu.
- Ejder Restaurant, Cengiz Topel Cd 9 (50 m west of railway station), ☏ , email@example.com. Daily 12:00-00:00. Consistently good reviews for this friendly place, wide menu choice with vegetarian options.
- West of Atatürk Cd near the museum are Ali Baba & Mehmet Kebab House (below), Agora, Selçuk Pidecisi, Amazon Cafe Bistro and Ayasoluk Hotel Restaurant.
- Mehmet and Ali Baba Kebab House, 1047th Sk 4 (next to museum), ☏ . Daily 09:00-22:30. Cheap, big portions and tasty kebabs and desserts. They serve beer.
- Efes Restaurant, 1006 Sk 13 (by the aqueducts straight from the train station), ☏ . M-Sa 09:00-00:00 Su 12:00-00:00. Kebab, fish and Turkish homemade food with vegan options and a good variety of Turkish meze with rakı.
- Town centre between highway and railway station has Deniz, Dolphin (below), Pink Bistro (below) and Cessna Bistro.
- Dolphin Cafe & Bar, 1005th Sk 7. This remains closed in 2022.
- Pink Bistro, Siegberg Cd 26. This remains closed in 2022.
- Around the museum are Nazdrave, Destine and Skopje Otantic (below).
- Skopje Otantic, Kallinger Cd 15 (50 m south of İsa Bey Mosque), ☏ . M-Sa 12:00-02:00, Su 15:00-02:00. Pleasant bistro and late spot in an old house near the citadel.
- Kallinos Cafe, 1045 Sk. No. 6 (across Ayasoluk Castle, 50m in to the left), ☏ . Daily 10:30-00:00. Cozy cafe with great coffee, cold beverages and desserts. Has outdoor seating as well. 30-50 TL.
- Efes beer is named for nearby Ephesus and is the most popular beer in Turkey, a Pilsener-type pale lager. The brand is owned by Anadolu Efes, founded in 1969, who have five breweries in Turkey (the nearest is in Izmir) and others in Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova and Kazakhstan. Efes is a reliable choice for drinking by itself on a hot day or to accompany a meal.
- 1 Ephesus Palace, 4027th Sk 15, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Cosy hotel in a quiet neighborhood east with a nice view of the citadel. It's decorated in traditional Ottoman style and has a warm family atmosphere. B&B double 700 TL.
- Ephesus Centrum, 1016th Sk 19 (one block north of bus station), ☏ , email@example.com. Central hotel, clean and spacious with welcoming staff. B&B double 700 TL.
- Urkmez Hotel, Namik Kemal Cd 20 (opposite railway station), ☏ . Clean central place, most rooms have A/C and private balconies. B&B double 500 TL.
- Boomerang Guesthouse, 1047th Sk (by museum), ☏ . Great reviews for this friendly small place, clean with private bathrooms. Peaceful welcoming atmosphere, drinks and dinner on the roof-top terrace. Wifi, laundry and bikes available. B&B double 500 TL.
- Homeros Pension, 1048th Sk 3 (by museum), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. An old house converted into a pension which has been richly decorated by the owner. The rooms are full of charm and the meals are very good. B&B double 600 TL.
- Bella Hotel, St John Street 7 (200 m north of Otogar), ☏ , fax: , email@example.com. Vine-wreathed small hotel with trad ceramic and textile decorations. Very convenient location. Excellent dinner on the roof terrace. Remains closed.
- 2 Atilla’s Getaway, Hwy D-550 Acarlar, ☏ . Resort hotel on highway 2 km south of town, convenient for motorists, and they have a free shuttle to Selçuk and Ephesus. Pleasant hotel with garden swimming pool. Camping €9-12, dorm €10-16, double €24-40.
Selçuk and its approach highways, and ancient Ephesus, have 4G from all Turkish carriers. As of July 2022, 5G has not rolled out in Turkey.
Go next Edit
- Izmir is a busy modern city with lots to see and do.
- Bergama is the site of ancient Pergamon, a well-preserved acropolis.
- Sardis, another of the "Seven Churches of Asia", has another Temple of Artemis plus gymnasium and synagogue.
- East is the fertile valley of the Küçükmenderes River, with old towns such as Tire, Ödemiş and Birgi the most picturesque.
- Aphrodisias is an extensive site east reached via Nazilli.
- Kuşadası is the raucous beach resort only 15 km west.
- The three archeological sites of Priene, Miletus and Didyma are over the hill south of Kuşadası.
- Denizli is the transport hub you pass through on the way to Pamukkale geothermal travertine pools.
- Bodrum is the next big resort heading down the Aegean coast.
|Routes through Selçuk|
|Çanakkale ← Izmir ←||N S||→ Denizli → Antalya|
|Merges with ← Izmir ←||N S||→ Muğla → END at|
|END at ←||N S||→ Ephesus → Becomes (S)|