Selçuk, Turkey is known as one of the closest town to the more famous Ephesus ruins and travertines of Pamukkale. Having said that, Selçuk is a perfect base if you want to get to these attractions. However, some tourists just pass Selçuk by and stay someplace else. I liked my stay in Selçuk and find it to be a charming little town.
From Adnan Menderes Airport in Izmir, we took the one hour train ride to Selçuk town, for only 5 TL (train schedule here). As we were approaching Selçuk, the views of breathtaking mountain ranges came as a surprise. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take pictures as I wasn’t seated at the window side of the train and my camera was tucked in my bag. Even so, I took the opportunity to stay away from my viewfinder and just take all the sights in.
Selçuk is home to Ephesus Museum, the Basilica of St. John, and the Temple of Artemis. Likewise, as mentioned, it’s close to the Ephesus ruins, House of Virgin Mary, the coastal town of Kuşadası and the equally charming little village of Şirince.
Find out more about some of the places you can visit within and a little outside the charming little town of Selçuk.
Isa Bey Mosque
Isa Bey Mosque’s architecture was inspired by The Great Mosque or Umayyad Mosque of Damascus, and is uniquely asymmetrical. Columns and stones from the ruins of Ephesus City were incorporated in the structure.
Isa Bey Mosque viewed from Basilica of St. John
The mosque being one of the Islamic centers for scientists and scholars bears some calligraphy inscriptions on stone
Basilica of St. John
As a Christian, the visit to Basilica of St. John was very meaningful for me. After Christ’s death, St. John, often referred to as the “Evangelist” or the “Beloved” fled to Ephesus from Jerusalem to avoid the persecution of King Herod. Having entrusted the Virgin Mary to St. John before Jesus died on the cross, it is believed that St. John brought the Virgin Mary with him to Ephesus (more about the House of Virgin Mary in Ephesus on my next blog).
St. John lived his last days in Ephesus. As a memorial, the Basilica of St. John was built over his grave at the foot of Ayasoluk Hill (Ayasoluk, which means Divine Theologian, is the former name of Selçuk, in honor of St. John).
The way up to Ayasoluk Citadel, the highest point of Ayasoluk Hill, north of the Basilica. It is believed that St. John wrote his gospel and letters on this hill. Also worth noting is that The Seven Churches mentioned in St. John’s Book of Revelations are all in Turkey.
Temple of Artemis
The Temple of Artemis, considered as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, used to be a massive temple for the worship of Artemis, the goddess of fertility. The oldest finds trace back to the Mycenaean age or the 14th to 13th century BC. The temple’s center used to be surrounded with many columns. Unfortunately, only a single column remains standing at this time in this swampy area.
The Selçuk market, located just behind the Otogar (bus station) is open only during Saturdays. We went here in the afternoon after our visit to Ephesus and the House of Virgin Mary. We found some of the fruit and vegetable vendors were close to calling it a day as their products are almost sold out. An early morning visit would have been more ideal.
Nevertheless, the Selçuk market is my kind of market. It truly represents the vibe of the town. It’s not the kind that caters to tourists. In this market, you’ll see locals selling their produce from village farms. It’s amusing to see fruits, vegetables, cheeses and other products that are typically what’s on a Turkish table’s meals, especially breakfast.
A Turkish breakfast wouldn’t be complete without olives. After Turkey, I will never again think that olive only comes in black.
Selçuk’s version of a “bayong” (woven basket) in the Philippines is this steel cart with plastic container
I realized this is the only non-food product I photographed in Selçuk market and I wonder why
North of Selçuk is Kuşadası, a resort town in Turkey’s Aegean coast. From the Selçuk otogar, we got a public dolmus (something in between a mini van and mini bus) ride to Kuşadası, which took around 30 minutes.
For visitors of the more popular Ephesus, Kuşadası is the closest place to enjoy nightlife along the coast. There are old houses near the seafront, but in the same way, there are plenty of bars and cafes. Nearby are also large hotels and resorts. We met other travelers staying at Kuşadası for the beer and nightlife but to each his own because we prefer the quieter (and to some, the boring) Selçuk.
We had to seek refuge from a heavy rain before we even reach Kusadasi’s Aegean coast. Luckily, we were rewarded with a fine view after the short downpour.
I did not see any turtle on the shores but good thing that they are placing importance on the protection of these beautiful animals
Just earlier in the day when I took this photo, I was marveling at the beauty of sunrise along the Mediterranean coast of Antalya. Now, I’m watching sunset over the Aegean coast of Turkey
Ephesus Museum, the place where most of the archaeological finds in ancient Ephesus is deposited, is also located in Selçuk. It seems more fitting, however, to write about the museum together with the story of our visit to Ephesus. Hope you’ll follow this through on my next blog.
Selçuk might not be for nightlife seekers, but I like it just the way it is – quiet, historic, traditional and hospitable. If you’re visiting Ephesus, it’s worth it to pay Selçuk a visit, too.
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