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My Favourite Planet > English > Middle East > Turkey > Ephesus > photo gallery
Ephesus, Turkey Ephesus photo gallery 1 57 of 62
Aghia Maria, Church of the Virgin, Ephesus, Turkey at My Favourite Planet

The apse at the eastern end of the Aghia Maria (Church of the Virgin), Ephesus. 5th century AD.
The Aghia Maria   (Church of the Virgin Mary)

Part 1

The church (Turkish, Meryem Kilisesi), 145 metres long and 30 metres wide, was originally a Roman period basilica built in the 2nd century AD in the southern stoa of a large building complex believed by some historians to have been the Olympieion, the sanctuary of Zeus Olympios (see note on gallery page 21). It was converted into the church of the bishop of Ephesus during the 5th century.

Immediately to the east of the church, remains of a large 5th century building complex have been identified as the bishop's palace (episkopeion). With a length of 140 metres and 30 metres wide, it was almost as large as the church.

The Third Ecumenical Council, also known as the Council of Ephesus, was held in Ephesus in 431 AD during the reign of Emperor Theodosius II, and is thought to have been attended by as many as 250 bishops from several Christian territories. The Council, which may have been held at this building, decided, among other theological issues, on the the title of the Virgin Mary as Theotokos (Greek, Θεοτόκος; literally, God-bearer or Birth-Giver of God), the Mother of God.

This church may have been named in Mary's honour at the Council or soon after, and is thought to have been the first church dedicated to her. It was rebuilt in several phases during the 6th century AD, and numerous times during the late Byzantine period. The variety of columns, capitals and other other architectural members of several styles and periods around the church make it clear that parts of other buildings were brought here over time during the various stages of construction.

The seat of the bishop was transferred to Saint John's Basilica in the 7th century, or pehaps some time earlier, but the Aghia Maria continued to be used as a cemetery church for centuries after.

See also: Saint John's Basilica, Selçuk

Many Greek Orthodox churches have been dedicated to the Virgin Mary as Theotokos, particularly commemorating her death, "Kimisis Tis Theotokou" (Κοιμήσεως της Θεοτόκου, roughly translated as the falling-asleep of the mother of God; also referred to as the Dormition), an important date in the Orthodox calendar. See, for example:

Kimisi Theotokou Church, Kavala, Greece

Kimisi Theotokou Church, Karlovasi, Samos, Greece
An Aeolic column capital in the Aghia Maria Church, Ephesus at My Favourite Planet

One of the columns around the apse with composite capitals, having
the attributes of the Aeolic and Corinthian orders. Aeolic capitals were
more common in cities such as Smyrna (today Izmir), and a Pergamene
variant was developed in Pergamon during the Hellenistic period
(see the Stoa of Eumenes on Athens Acropolis gallery page 33).
photos and articles:
© David John
See also:


the nearby town

galleries index
Selcuk photo gallery 1 - town of Selcuk, Turkey

Selçuk gallery 1
around town
Selcuk photo gallery 2 - Ephesus Archaeological Museum, Turkey

Selçuk gallery 2
Ephesus Museum
Selcuk photo gallery 3 - Serbian folk dancers in Selcuk, Turkey

Selçuk gallery 3
Serbian dancers
visit Selçuk
Part of the architrave in the apse of the Aghia Maria Church, Ephesus at My Favourite Planet

Part of the architrave supported by Aeolic columns in the apse of the Aghia Maria Church.
A plaque commemorating the visit of Pope Paul VI to the Aghia Maria Church, Ephesus at My Favourite Planet

An inscribed plaque in Turkish and Latin in the apse commemorating
the visit of Pope Paul VI to the church on 26th July 1967.
Model of the Aghia Maria (Church of the Virgin), Ephesus at My Favourite Planet

A model of the Aghia Maria (Church of the Virgin), Ephesus.

The model looks quite weather-beaten after being exhibited in the open for many years.
It is now in the Museum for the Visually Impaired in the Lower Agora.
The Aghia Maria Church, Ephesus at My Favourite Planet

As can be seen fron the model above, the Aghia Maria church was a long, slim
building, to which other parts were added over the centuries. It was entered
from an open, colonnaded courtyard at the western end, which also led to a
domed baptistry to the north (see photo on the next page), and a vestibule.
During the 6th century the three-aisled church was divided into two churches.
A column in the Aghia Maria Church, Ephesus at My Favourite Planet

A fluted column with a Corinthian capital variant in the Aghia Maria Church.
Early Christian grave at the Aghia Maria church in Ephesus at My Favourite Planet

Early Christian grave at the Aghia Maria church in Ephesus,
excavated by German and Austrian archaeologists in 1985.
The path to the Aghia Maria church from the lower entrance, Ephesus at My Favourite Planet

The path to the Aghia Maria church from the lower entrance of the archaeological site.
Photos and articles and map: © David John

Additional photos: © Konstanze Gundudis

All photos and articles are copyright protected.

Images and materials by other authors
have been attributed where applicable.

Please do not use these photos or articles without permission.

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Higher resolution versions are available on request.

Some of the information and photos in this guide to Ephesus
originally appeared in 2004 on
See also
The Cheshire Cat Blog
photo essays about Turkey:

Istanbul Essentials part 1

Istanbul Essentials part 2

Istanbul Essentials part 3
with video

Ionian Spring part 1

Ionian Spring part 2

Ionian Spring part 3
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