Ephesus was one of the most important cities of the Roman Empire and an influential center for the early Christian church. The apostle Paul lived here for a time and addressed one of his letters to the community at Ephesus. The apostle John is also associated with Ephesus, and tradition says that the Gospel of John was written here and that the mother of Jesus spent the last years of her life in Ephesus under the care of John.
Pilgrims to this site in western Turkey gather at two major landmarks: the House of the Virgin Mary (located on top of a mountain several miles from the city) and the ruins of the Basilica of St. John, where the remains of the apostle are said to lie. The city’s many well-preserved Roman-era sites provide an evocative backdrop for imagining the earliest years of the Christian church.
Did You Know? Ephesus is also the site of the ruins of the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Next site: Mt. Sinai and St. Catherine’s Monastery, Egypt
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Lori Erickson is one of America’s top travel writers specializing in spiritual journeys. She’s the author of the Near the Exit: Travels With the Not-So-Grim Reaper and Holy Rover: Journeys in Search of Mystery, Miracles, and God. Her website Spiritual Travels features holy sites around the world.