Ephesus archeological site may be best known for its stunning monuments, first among all Celsius' Library, or for the wealthy decorations of Terrace House 2. In reality the boundaries of the UNESCO designation go beyond the center of the ancient city and comprise a few sites of later periods as well as historic areas of the municipality of Selçuk.
Among these "minor" sites we may mention the Grotto of St. Paul and the Cemetery of the Seven Sleepers, two highly significant places in terms of historical, artistic but also spiritual value. Usually, the access to these two sites is limited to the public, for ensuring the stability of the environment, in St. Paul's Grotto, and for safety and stability reasons in the Cemetery of the Seven Sleepers. However, thanks to a kind permission of the ÖAI, the MCC group was allowed a visit to these two interesting places.
The Grotto of St. Paul
The Grotto of St. Paul lies on the northern slop of Bulbul Mount, not far from the exit gate of the Terrace House 2. This place is decorated with 4 wall paintings which date from the late 4th up to the 12th-13th century A.D. The western painting represents the central moment of the legend of St. Thekla, who embraced the Christian faith after having listened to St. Paul's sermons. While, the central painting shows a typical "Theophany", or the Triumph of Jesus Christ, flanked by apostles, prophets and saints. The original function of this cave is not known, but it seems that during the Byzantine period it served as a chapel.
The Cemetery of the Seven Sleepers
This burial complex, which dates back to the 3rd century A.D., lies on the eastern slope of Panayir Mount. According to the legend, seven young men, during the reign of Emperor Decius (249-251 A.D.) sought refuge in a cave from the persecutions of Christians, which they avoided by sleeping for centuries. Above a catacomb of ten chambers, a church was erected and their cult was finally established. Until the Middle Age this complex remained a site of Christian pilgrimage.
The richness of the artistic and cultural heritage of Ephesus site and its surrounding area is really impressive, and it was a great privilege for MCC participants to have access to these to "hidden" jewels.
See you soon!