Explore The central and southern Aegean
A laid-back farming town only two decades ago, SELÇUK has been catapulted into the limelight of premier-league tourism by its proximity to the ruins of Ephesus. The flavour of tourism here, though, is markedly different from that at nearby Kuşadası; its less prestigious inland location, good-value accommodation and ecclesiastical connections (not least, the burial place of St John the Evangelist) make it a haven for a mix of both backpackers and religious tours.
Although evidence of settlement as early as 2000 BC has been found atop Ayasoluk hill, the town only really flourished as a Byzantine enterprise during the fifth century AD, after the harbour of adjacent Ephesus had completely silted up. Despite being the site of key events in the life of Sts Paul, John and (supposedly) the Virgin, local Christianity was mostly restricted to the village of Kirkince, now Şirince.
Selçuk offers a variety of antiquities from diverse eras (not least in its excellent Ephesus Museum), which can easily be toured in a single day. The town’s sights are numerous and interesting enough to warrant another night’s stay after visiting Ephesus, especially if you also plan on heading out to the shrine at Meryemana or the hill-village of Şirince.