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Ancient City of Ephesus to Reunite With Sea After 2,500 Years

Ephesus sea
The ancient city of Ephesus boasts the Celsus library with its magnificent façade. Credit: Benh LIEU SONG –CC BY-SA 3.0/Wikipedia

The ancient Greek city of Ephesus on the coast of Ionia, located in the western province of İzmir, is set to once again have a harbor on the Aegean coast, according to an ambitious new project.

Turkish daily Hurriyet reports that major progress has been made in the first phase of the Ephesus Ancient Canal Project first announced in 2017.

A Turkish official said that more than 90 percent of the project had been completed.

“We are building a 600-meter-long canal and a 250-meter-long marina with a width of 100 meters that will provide short-term accommodation for excursion boats. We achieved a physical realization rate of 94 percent in its construction.

“Our goal is to complete the first phase of the Ephesus Ancient Canal Project by the end of April,” State Hydraulic Works (DSI) official Saadettin Ceylan told Hurriyet.

The ancient city of Ephesus and harbor were located at the starting point of the royal road where western and eastern cultures intersected for thousands of years. However, in 2,500 years, due to the alluvium brought by the Little Maeander and Marnas watercourse, the ancient city shifted nine kilometers away from the sea and took its present form.

Ephesus is a UNESCO World Heritage site

Ephesus is one of the greatest archeological treasures on Earth, with the entire city listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The great city, which went through endless transformations over the years as a result of earthquakes, wars and conquests, was founded in the tenth century BC on the site of the former Arzawan capital by Attic and Ionian Greek colonists.

During the Classical Greek era, it was one of the twelve cities of the Ionian League.

The city was famous in its day for the nearby Temple of Artemis (completed around 550 BC), which was considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Its many monumental buildings included the Library of Celsus and a theater capable of holding no less than twenty-four thousand spectators.

Archeologists estimate that the population of any ancient city was ten times that of the capacity of its largest theater; therefore, they believe the population of Ephesus was approximately 250,000.

Apart from the ancient city of Ephesus, the Ephesus archeological site contains the Celsus library, the fabled House of the Virgin Mary, the Church of St. John the Evangelist, and the prehistoric Çukuriçi mound.

Considered one of Christianity’s holiest sites, the House of the Virgin Mary merited a trio of papal visits: Pope Paul VI visited the shrine in 1967 while Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI visited in 1979 and 2006, respectively.

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