Selcuk in Izmir province has been the hub of many civilizations for 8000 years and hosts some of the best preserved ancient remains. Ranging from early 3000 B.C. to early Christianity to the Seljuks and Ottomans, 5000 years of history can be traced with the help of the remains that still stand today, making it one of the most attractive touristic regions on the Aegean coast. Selcuk is perfect for all kinds of visits, whether it be for a day, a weekend or longer as it has a variety of facilities and accommodation possibilities.
Selcuk is an important center for three religions, beginning with pagan worship in the polytheist world of antiquity, with the Temple of Artemis (one of the Seven Wonders of the World). Later Christianity took over, which was then followed by Islam.
The attractions that make Selcuk the popular tourist base that it is today include its magnificent history, natural features, the beautiful Pamucak beach, caves, ornithology areas, Sirince village and its friendly locals.
Selcuk’s climate is typical of the Mediterranean, with hot and dry summers and rainy and mild winters. The easiest way to access Selcuk is from Izmir Airport, which is 55km away and costs €35 by taxi, unless other transfer alternatives are considered
Historical places of interest in Selcuk:
Ephesus (in Top 10 Page) is situated just 3km from Selcuk and is the best preserved ancient city in the region. Evidence show that inhabitancy extends back to 3000 B.C. Due to its religious importance and location, Ephesus (Efes) became a very lively trading and political center in the region, with the population reaching up to 250,000. The city still bears the remains of the Ionian, Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk, and the Ottoman civilizations. After Ephesus became the provincial capital of the Romans, a significant Christian community grew. As a result, the city was visited by St.John the Evangelist in the 1st.century and by St. Paul between 51-53 A.D. Eventually, towards the 6th.century, Ephesus (Efes) started to lose its importance and wealth due to the alluvium brought by the Cayster (Kucuk Menderes) River as it blocked the harbour. The city then shifted to St. Johns Basilica. Following these events, Ephesus was seized during the 11th century by Seljuk Turks, of which the town’s current name Selcuk comes from.
As it takes a long time to see all the remains of Ephesus, we recommend that you spare at least a full day for an Ephesus trip. A brief list of the remains are listed below:
Vedius Gymnassium and Stadium:
This magnificent structure was built in the name of Vedius for sports and cultural education, with exercise fields, baths, changing rooms, etc. In the south part there is a stadium where the Olympic events took place. At the opposite side of the stadium on a hill, there is a building dating to the 6th.century B.C, known as Acropolis, and also there is a temple dating back to 350 B.C.
Byzantine Public Baths:
Along the same path, you will come across the Byzantium Public Baths after the stadium. They were built during the 2nd century A.D.
Church of St. Mary (Double Church):
Built between the 2-4th.centuries.This was the first church dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and holds special importance in Christianity.
Arkadiane (Port street):
This marble paved street was in the harbour direction, running alongside Serpais Temple and the Agora. It is 500m long and 11m wide, named after the Byzantine Emperor Arcadius. Most of the ceremonies took place on this street.
A very well kept splendid building, built in the Hellenistic period with capacity for 25.000 people.
A 400m long street between Magnesia Gate and Koreos Gate.
This building is typical of Roman architecture and was built by Asian Consul Gaius Aquila in 135 A.D.
The Love House consists of a main hall and several connecting rooms, and was built in the 1st.century A.D. There are some mosaic girl portraits in the building. There were also heating and cooling systems present in the house, much like today’s air conditioners.
Skolastika Public Bath:
These marble baths were heated by a central heating system and were built in the early 1st.century A.D.
Only one side of the Temple remains today, however this is one of the most beautiful structure in the Curetes way, presenting an interesting mythological scene of Andoklus killing a wild bear.
Now located in the Ephesus Museum, this used to be the big statue of the emperor decorating the fountain.
These were the residences of the wealthy people, and were decorated with frescoes, mosaics and marble plating.
Temple of Domitian:
This temple is located at the center of the city, and was dedicated to Emperor Domitian in 80 A.D. The entrance pedestals are in the Ephesus Museum, and the head and arms of the statue are exhibited in Izmir Archaeology Museum.
Prytaneion (City Hall):
A place for ceremonies, greetings, and religious activities, with a continuous burning fire.
The Odeon was built by one of Ephesus's wealthy citizens. In its early years the roof was covered by wood.
The Artemis temple (in Top 10 Page) was built in the early Ephesus settlement and was later ruined by an earthquake. Afterwards, with the support of the Roman Empire, it was rebuilt. It is known as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. However, only the base ruins remain today.
The Seven Sleepers consists of a building with a large monument, rock-engraved tombs, two churches and catacombs. Seven men, who were subject to some religious rumours related to Christianity, were buried in a natural cave at the foot of Mount Pion (Panayir dagi), known as Seven Sisters Grotto, which is adjacent to the building. This is why the building is named the Seven Sleepers.
The Virgin Mary House:
The Virgin Mary House (in Top 10 Page) is located on the top of Bulbul Mountain, 9km away from Ephesus and 20km from Selcuk. It is believed that Mary came to Ephesus together with St. John and spent her last days here, followed by her death in this house. Nowadays, Christian and Muslim pilgrims from all over the world visit this holy place. The house is an example of typical Roman architecture constructed entirely from stones. In 4th.century, a church combining the house and her grave was built. Every year on August 15th a ceremony is held to commemorate Mary’s assumption.
One of the biggest and highest monuments in Anatolia which dates back to the Hellenistic period. It is located 13km from Selcuk.
This rampart was built during the early Christianity period, and was restored during the Seljuk period. It is situated on Ayasuluk Hill, and was built to protect the hill. It was also used during the early Christian, Byzantine and Seljuk periods.
St. John Basilica:
The St. John Basilica (in top 10 Page) is situated on the slopes of Ayasuluk hill, just below Ayasuluk castle. It is a Byzantine church, where St.John the Evangelist, who spent the last years of his life in Ephesus writing his version of the Gospel, is buried.
These are the Byzantium period water canals which bring water from Ayasuluk hill. The aqueduct and the neighbouring area became a breeding and nesting place of storks, which are the symbol of Selcuk.
The Museum displays many splendid archaeological remains excavated from the ancient site of Ephesus as well as some artefacts from the Temple of Artemis, and many samples from the Hellenistic and Roman civilizations.
Recommended beauties to be seen in Selcuk
Between Selcuk and Pamucak, Lake Gevekirse is a conservation area for birds and some mammals. There are more than 40 species of birds including pelicans, a variety of ducks, woodcocks, divers and mammals such as wild boars, foxes, and jackals in the area.
The cave is 2km from Selcuk, located at the slopes of the valley. There are stalactites and stalagmites formed by the white coloured water in the cave.
Sirince Village is a small old Greek village, situated 15km from Selcuk. Sirince Village is famous for its stone houses, local wine, olive oil and laces made by local women. The village was founded 800 years ago. The architecture in the village displays excellent examples of well preserved Anatolian styled houses.
The beach is situated 9 km from Selcuk, located on the Dilek peninsula. Along this long beach, one can find all types of shore formations from powder sand to rocky shores, or beaches with pebbles. As well as nice restaurants and decent accommodation possibilities, picnic tables, showers, umbrellas, toilet facilities, chairs are also available for picnic lovers.
Beach at the Aegean coast
St. Peter's Castle - Bodrum
Rock tombs Dalyan
"Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life" - Jack Kerouac