Basilica of St John

sights / Religious

Basilica of St John information

Selçuk , Turkey
St Jean Caddesi
incl Ayasuluk Fortress ₺10
Opening hours
8am-6.30pm Apr-Oct, to 4.30pm Nov-Mar
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Despite a century of restoration, the once-great basilica built by Byzantine Emperor Justinian (r 527–65) remains a skeleton of its former self. Nonetheless, it is an atmospheric site with excellent hilltop views, and the best place in the area for a sunset photo. The information panels and scale model highlight the building's original grandeur, as do the marble steps and monumental gate.

Over time, earthquakes and attackers ruined Justinian's splendid church dedicated to the Apostle John, who reportedly visited Ephesus twice. His first visit (AD 37 to 48) was with the Virgin Mary; the second (AD 95) was when he is thought to have written his gospel on this very hill. These legends, and the existence of a 4th-century tomb supposedly containing the saint's relics, inspired Justinian to build the basilica here and it drew thousands of pilgrims until the late Byzantine period. The tomb of St John , marked by a marble slab in the sanctuary, is surrounded by the cruciform outlines of Justinian's basilica. Note the 12 pillars that supported the dome with Christian symbols etched onto them and a full-immersion baptistery which dates from the 4th-century.