The city was established as a port on the mouth of the river Cayster and was one of the foremost cities of the world for its being on a strategic trade route in Anatolia.
The city itself and the ruins are all on the sides of a fertile valley. The extensive ruins including the theatre, library or gymnasium create the special atmosphere of Ephesus, and appeal to every visitors.
Ephesus has been a "center" during the date. Once a trade center of the ancient world , a religious center of the early Christianity and today, a unique tourism center proving all its perfects to the visitors through the world.
The linguists accept that the word "Ephesus" derived from "Apasas". The town of Apasas under the rule of Ahhiyava Kingdom mentioned in the written records of Hittites of the 14th and 13th centuries BC is Ephesus.
There are mythologies about the settlement:
1- According to the famous historian Herodotes, the city was founded by Androklos, son of Kodros, the King of Athens. According to legend in the year of 10 BC, Androklos was searching a location for establishing a site. Androklos was running from the Dor invasion in Greece. He was leading one of the migration convoys. It was predicted by an Apollon oracle that a fish and a boar would show the location of the new settlement. Days later, parallel to the oracle's prediction, while frying, a fish fell down from the pan, irritating a hiding a boar behind the bushes. The feared boar escaped immediately. Androklos followed the boar and established the city of Ephesus, where he had killed the boar. When Androklos died in the wars with Carians, a mausoleum was built to memory of the first king of Ephesus. The mausoleum is considered to be placed around "The Door of Magnesia".
2- Amazons, the mythical female warriors founded Ephesus. In mythology, The Amazons were a race of woman warriors who lived in Anatolia and fought with the Trajans against the Achaeans in the Trajan wars. At that time, their queen was killed by the Achaean hero Achilles. According to legend the Amazons dealt with men for only two reasons, procreation and battle, and they reared only their female young. The Amazons were frequently depicted by artists as being in battle with men.
Ephesus has been located at different places in different times:
Ephesus 1 was located on Ayasuluk ( Selcuk ) Hill and inhabited by ancient Anatolians, Carians and Lelegians. At that time there was a cult of the Great Earth Mother which acted like a magnet attracting pilgrims and settlers even before the Ionian migration.
Ephesus 2 was on the north slope of Panayir Dagi ( Mount Pion ). As with other cities of the Aegean coast of Anatolia, Ephesus came to be ruled by Croesus of Lydia in the mid 6th century BC, before passing to the Persians after 546 BC. It joined the Delian League after the Persian wars. In 334 BC. it fell to Alexander the Great and subsequently to his successors: Lysimachus and Seleucid rulers.
In the 4th century BC the harbour threatened to silt up the settlement and it was moved to a new location between Mount Pion and Bulbul Dagi ( The Nightingale Mountain or Mount Coressus ) by Lysimachus to form Ephesus 3. The remains of city walls from this period can still be seen at the foothill of Mount Coressos.
Later it was controlled by Pergamun, eventually passing in to Roman hands in 133 BC. During this period Ephesus became the capital of province of Asia Minor and the population reached a quarter of a million. After the 6th century AD due to the persistent silting up of the harbour and repeated raids by Arabs, the city changed it's location back to Ayasuluk Hill forming Ephesus 4.
Originally Ephesus was a harbour city but due to the Menderes alluviums over the centuries, the site is now remoted from sea for about 5-6 kms.
Ephesus has played significant roles during the date, in the early Christianity, as well. The prestige of Ephesus increased with the arrival of Saint Paul, for spreading the Christianty to the Ephesians worshipping to Artemission. St. Paul and the disciplines of Christianity were strictly refused by Ephesians, elderly. With the long tiring struggles of St. Paul, Christianity was accepted by the most of the population around Ephesus. St. Paul had also sent one of his most famous letters to the church in Ephesus. Additionally, St. Jean and Virgin Mary visited Ephesus and Virgin Mary settled down the Mount Coressos, located close to Ephesus, around the years of 431 AD.
Ephesus became a state of Seljukian in the year of 1090, for a time was held by Byzantine. In 1307 Seljukians controlled the city again. However, years later, the River Caystros was silted up, leaving the site far inland. Therefore, the city of Ephesus has lost it's significance, due to the development of the ports of Izmir and Kusadasi in sea-trade.
Excavation works in Ephesus started about 129 years ago and there is no doubt that these will go on for many years together with restoration works.