Ephesus is the biggest and best-preserved ancient city in the country and is one of the world's spectacular historical sites. The city was established with a harbour on the mouth of the Cayster River, and in the 2nd century BC it became the most important port and commercial trading centre in Anatolia, from Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic period to capital of Roman Asia under Augustus in 133 BC. The city went into final decline during the Byzantine era with the silting up of the harbour and by 527 AD it was deserted. The city is also important as the early seat of Christianity, visited by St Paul, whose letters to the Ephesians are recorded in the New Testament. The site needs little imagination to see what a functioning Roman city would have looked like, but guides are available and can offer a rich insight into the history and architecture of the ruins. Among the amphitheatres, murals and mosaics, baths, fountains, brothels and columns, the chariot-worn streets lead to some of the highlights, including the enormous Library of Celsus, the impressive Temple of Hadrian, a row of public latrines and the Grand Theatre where Paul preached to the Ephesians. The city was originally dedicated to the goddess Artemis and her once-magnificent temple was considered to be one of
the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Kusadasi is one of the most swollen resort towns on the southern Aegean Coast, overflowing with shiploads of tourists in summer who enlarge the year-round population several times over. Once a small fishing village, today the busy town is packed with curios and carpet shops; its proximity to the ruins of Ephesus making it an ideal base for Aegean cruise ships. Despite the frenzied tourism, Kusadasi is situated amid splendid coastal scenery and several significant archaeological sites, including the three well-preserved Ionian settlements of Miletus, Priene and Didyma. There are plenty of good hotels and restaurants, and ferries link it with the nearby Greek islands of Samos and Mykonos.