Often crowded with tourists, Ephesus is a must-see stop on any itinerary through western Turkey. Few archaeological sites in Turkey are as impressive as Ephesus. The excavated and reconstructed buildings bear eloquent testimony to this important and grand city of ancient Asia Minor. Strolling the streets of Ephesus, past fountains, statues, monuments, temples, a great library, residences, the agora, and the theater, the modern visitor can easily imagine the ancient city thronged with crowds engaged in the various activities of their society. Ephesus is situated near the Aegean coast, east and slightly north of the island of Samos and approximately 40 miles south of Izmir. The modern city of Selçuk is located in the general area of ancient Ephesus. In antiquity Ephesus was a major port city situated on the Aegean coast. Over the years alluvial deposits from the Cayster River, which ran near the city, filled in the harbor, and as a result, the site of the city today lies approximately 5 miles inland from the coast. In addition, Ephesus was the beginning point for the main highway that ran from the Aegean coast to the eastern part of Anatolia, which along with its harbor allowed the city to flourish as a commercial and transportation center. According to the geographer Strabo, the earliest inhabitants of Ephesus were a group of peoples called Leleges and Carians. Sometime around 1100–1000 B.C.E., a group of Ionian Greek colonists, supposedly led by the legendary Athenian prince Androclus, established a Greek settlement at the base of the northern slope of Panayïr Daǧï (Mt. Pion), one of three hills in the vicinity of ancient Ephesus. An ancient legend claims that Androclus chose this site on the basis of an oracle that said the city should be established at the site indicated by a fish and a wild boar. When Androclus and his companions landed on the coast of Asia Minor, Androclus joined some locals who were grilling fish. One of the fish, along with a hot coal, flipped off the grill.
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