Selçuk might have been just a small agricultural town on the Aegean coast had it not been for the fact that it is the focal point for some of Turkey’s most important and impressive historical sites. Situated just 3 km from the famous ancient city of Ephesus ( Efes ), and just 9 km from the coast, Selçuk is one of the most visited tourist destinations in Turkey.
The House of the Virgin Mary is 7 km from the town, and along with Ephesus, they are both the subject of separate videos on our You Tube channel and this website. Within Selçuk itself, you can visit the 14th century Isa Bey Mosque and St Johns Basilica. The Basilica on Ayasoluk hill ( the hill itself is part of Ephesus UNESCO World Heritage Site ) is the tomb of St John the disciple who wrote the Gospel of St John and who accompanied the Virgin Mary to Selçuk. The Isabey Mosque is one of the oldest works of art from the Anatolian Beyliks. Built by Şamlı Dımışklıoğlu Ali in honor of the Aydinid İsa Bey the mosque was also used as a caravanserai during the 19th century. Ayasoluk Castle by the Basilica has some impressive looking Byzantine fortifications. The views from this vantage point are quite spectacular.
The town of Selçuk has a lot to offer. It gets its name from the Selcuk tribes that lived in this area. It has its own railway station so you can travel here by train. The Adnan Menderes Airport is just 60 km away and the popular tourist resort of Kuşadası is only 19 km. On the edge of town along the road out of Selçuk towards Ephesus there is also the Temple of Artemis which was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It was dedicated to the goddess Artemis and was destroyed in AD 401. The foundations and fragments of the temple can still be seen although it was re-built three times.
If you are lucky enough to visit Selçuk during the months April through to September you are likely to see plenty of storks nesting from telegraph poles, trees and even along the ruins of the towns old Roman aquaduct which stretches for 9 km out of town and which used to bring water directly to the centre.
Be sure to visit the Ephesus Museum preferably before you visit the actual site of Ephesus itself. The history and artifacts on display here will give you a better appreciation as to the grandeur of this ancient civilisation.
The town plays host to numerous festivals which include the Camel Wrestling festival, oil wrestling festival, and the Efes Festival which is dedicated to culture, art and life. If you are totally maxed out with historic sights and need to unwind then the Pamucak Beach is just 9km out of town. If you have a car and are travelling with family then you might want to visit Aqua Fantasy ( 12 km ) and Adaland ( 13 km ) which are two of the largest water parks in Europe. The kids will love these fun parks. The popular tourist attraction of Şirince village is also nearby.
Selçuk is a pleasant town to walk round. It is not a large town but it offers good family run guest houses and boutique hotels, restaurants and excellent transport routes. Further out of town between Söke and Didim you should add Priene, Miletus and Didyma to your list of places to see. Spending less than two days is not recommended and preferably 3 days is advised. There is a lot to see and do in this area.