More than anywhere else, the Greco-Roman world comes alive at Ephesus. After almost 150 years of excavation, the city's recovered and renovated structures have made Ephesus Europe's most complete classical metropolis – and that's with 82% of the city still to be unearthed.
As capital of Roman Asia Minor, Ephesus was a vibrant city of over 250,000 inhabitants. Counting traders, sailors and pilgrims to the Temple of Artemis, these numbers were even higher, meaning that in Ephesus one could encounter the full diversity of the Mediterranean world and its peoples. So important and wealthy was Ephesus that its Temple of Artemis (en route to present-day Selçuk) was the biggest on earth, and one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Excavations are ongoing, with new surprises popping up as archaeologists continue to dig. In 2007 a gladiator’s cemetery was discovered near the Stadium, and Roman-era synagogue remains reportedly lie behind the library; these are among several areas where new discoveries may be made.
In the future, Turkish authorities are planning to wage war against the silt accumulation that defeated all previous Ephesian civilisations. If accomplished, their marvellous idea of dredging a canal to the Aegean would allow visitors to come to Ephesus by boat, or to gaze out from it onto the sea, thus restoring the city's original identity as a romantic port.