Exploring Selçuk, Ephesus & Kuşadasi, Turkey

After tasting some Turkish wines (which weren’t that great in my opinion) and wandering through the streets in pretty Şirince in September 2013, we headed over to Selçuk to spend the night. While we were there, we got to visit the ruins of Ephesus, check out a historic Basilica in Selçuk town, and experience the nightlife in Kuşadası, a lively resort city nearby.

The Ancient City of Ephesus
Upon checking in at our hotel, our group set off to enjoy an afternoon exploring the beautiful ruins of Ephesus, a magnificent ancient city that is one of the country’s most important archaeological sites, located only 2km away from Selçuk.

Me & Ryan by the Library of Celsus (135 AD), which one housed 12,000 scrolls in two floors!

Me & Ryan by the Library of Celsus (135 AD), which one housed 12,000 scrolls in two floors! – September 2013

Starting off as a Greek city in the 10th Century BC, Ephesus was eventually taken over by the Romans and grew to become one of the largest cities of the Roman Empire around the year 100 BC. While the site was the home to the now mostly non-existent Temple of Artemis (one of the original 7 Wonders of the World, from which only a single column remains), it is mostly recognized today for the well-preserved remains of magnificent buildings and statues spanning many eras, most notably the two-story Library of Celsus (completed in 135 AD), and a large outdoor theatre with a 25,000-spectator capacity. St its peak, Ephesus also had a large system of bathhouses and was notorious for being home to various brothels, many of whose ruins still stand today.

Historic Selçuk
Selçuk has become a popular stop in Turkey mainly because of its closeness to the ancient city ruins of Ephesus; yet, Selçuk has its own charm, and even a bit of history to offer for those that want to discover a little more.

Remains of Basilica of St John the Apostle

Remains of Basilica of St John the Apostle

The main highlight of Selçuk is the Basilica of St John the Apostle, a 6th Century AD basilica which, although in ruins, is beautifully well-kept. According to theologists, St John himself is buried underneath the ruins of the Basilica, so the site has large historical and theological significance, and is visually a beautiful place to visit.

Another point of interest in town is the Isa Bey Mosque (1375 AD), which is located next to the Basilica. While interesting on the outside, the Mosque doesn’t really have much charm inside, so feel free to skip it if you don’t have time to visit! As the Basilica and the Isa Bey Mosque are located right in the centre of the town, it was easy enough for us to visit them, even though we had little free day time in Selçuk.

The Isa Bey Mosque

The Isa Bey Mosque and the green fields of Selçuk

As many other Turkish places, Selçuk is home to a large fortress which overlooks the town from above a hill. Although we didn’t visit the fortress due to our tight time constraint, we were able to admire it towering above the rest of Selçuk from any point in the town, most memorably from the rooftop terrace of our hotel. At the rooftop, our group had a lovely alfresco dinner followed by smoking of a hookah, all with the view of the Selçuk Fortress towering above the town, illuminating slowly as the sun set.

Nightlife in Kuşadası
When the sun had fully set, the hookah had been smoked, and a couple of beers had been consumed in the rooftop of our hotel, my friend Ryan and I took a cab to the nearby resort city of Kuşadası, about 30 minutes away, to discover the town’s nightlife.

The View of Selçuk Castle Over the Town at Dusk, From Our Hotel's Rooftop

View of Selçuk Castle over the town at dusk, from our hotel’s rooftop, before heading out to Kuşadası!

We had been told Kuşadası was lively, and I got to say the resort city didn’t disappoint, even though we were only there for one night! The streets were busy with local and international tourists, the stores were open until late, and the bars were full… but not before the clock hit midnight!

Kuşadası Pedestrian Street

Kuşadası Pedestrian Street

We went to a funky bar to grab a beer, as we waited for the big nightclubs to open (many of them remained closed until 11pm and were even then empty until well past midnight). At midnight we headed to Tattoo, the first gay bar we were able to find in Turkey outside of Istanbul during our three weeks of traveling the country! The place, which resembled a small warehouse, was virtually empty even after midnight, but by the time 1am rolled around, the place was suddenly packed, and we had a good time enjoying some cocktails and dancing with the (pretty) crowds.

We had to leave Tattoo just past 2am as we needed to find a cab to take all the way back to Selçuk and get a decent night sleep before heading off to Ayvalik the next morning, but we enjoyed our night out (and plenty of eye candy) in funky Kuşadası!

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