Basilica of St John Ephesus

The Basilica of St. John

Location and Significance

Basilica of St. John at Ephesus is located on the slope of Ayasuluk Hill in Selcuk, Ephesus, where Apostle John was believed to have lived after the persecution in the Isle of Patmos. He died here at the age of 98 and was buried in the same location according to his will. The Basilica is believed to be the final resting place of John the Apostle and was constructed over what is believed to be the tomb of St. John.

Basilica of St. John Ephesus Turkey
The Basilica of St. John in Ephesus

Early Foundations and Theodosian Church

The first building was a Martyrion (Mausoleum) built on the grave of St. John, which was also used as a church. In the era of Emperor Theodosius (347-395), a basilica was built over the mausoleum.  Two hundred years later the building became nothing more than a wreck due to earthquakes.

The Basilica of St. John at Ephesus Video Guide

The tomb of St John the Apostle

Theodosius to Justinian: Architectural Evolution

And eventually above the church of Theodosius, a massive church with a cross plan was built by Emperor Justinian and his wife Theodora (548-565). The building of this basilica modeled after the lost Church of Holly Apostles in Costantinapolis had a cross plan with six domes. And the sacred burial place of St John was under the central dome.

The Tomb of St. John
The Tomb of St. John

Architectural Significance and Details

Massive marble pillars in the corners of the cross support five domes. On the capitals of the pillars, the monogram of Justinian and Theodora was placed, prior to the death of Theodora in 548. The main entrance gate to the church was called the “Gate of Persecution” and a large baptistery was replaced on the left of the persecution gate. This massive Basilica of St John Ephesus measured 133 meters to 65 meters and was regarded as one of the holiest churches of its time. 

Early Christianity in Ephesus

St. Paul in Ephesus
St. Paul in Ephesus

Ephesus served as a critical hub for early Christianity, a fact underlined by the Apostle Paul’s letters and the city’s mention in the Book of Revelation. The basilica’s construction in this historical and spiritual context highlights its importance as a light of the faith.

St. John’s Journey to Ephesus and Legacy

There were no clear written inscriptions about the travel of St John to Ephesus. However, it is believed that John traveled from Jerusalem to Ephesus, where he remained for the rest of his life after the crucifixion.  Numerous evidence confirm John’s residence in Ephesus and from there Emperor Domitian exiled him to the Isle of Patmos for 8 years, where he wrote Revelation (the Apocalypse). In the time of Emperor Nevra, John was pardoned and returned to Ephesus where he lived for the rest of his life.

Miniature of the Basilica of St John in Ephesus
Miniature of the Basilica of St John in Ephesus

St. John was the youngest of the apostles and He is said to have lived to old age, dying at Ephesus (A.D. 93-94) during the reign of Emperor Trajan. It is believed to be the same person as John the Apostle (John, son of Zebedee), and the Gospel of John.

The most important document confirming the residency of St. John in Ephesus is the letter from the Ecumenical Council held in Ephesus (A.D. 431). This letter describes “the city of the Ephesus” as where John the Evangelist and the Virgin Mary lived and were buried.

Information for Visitors

What is the Entrance Fee for the Basilica of St. John?

The entrance fee for the Ephesus Ancient City is 6 Euros per person. Children under the age of 8 are granted free admission. To verify their age, please ensure you bring along copies of their passports. Ephesus tickets can be purchased using both Visa and Mastercard as acceptable forms of payment.

Please click the link below to display the current entrance fees for the attractions around the Basilica of St. John.

https://www.bestephesustours.com/ephesus-entrance-fees.html

What is the Opening Hour for the Basilica of St. John?

The Ancient City of Ephesus is open to visitors every day between 08:00 and 18:00including weekends (Box Office Closing Time: 17:30). Please click the link below to display the current opening hours for the attractions around the Basilica of St. John.

https://www.bestephesustours.com/ephesus-opening-hours.html

Where is the Basilica of St. John and his Tomb?

The Basilica of St. John and his tomb are located in Selcuk, Izmir, Turkey, which is near the ancient city of Ephesus. It’s believed to have been built over the burial site of St. John the Apostle. According to Christian tradition, St. John spent his last years in the region around Ephesus and was buried on the hill where the basilica now stands.

Frequently Asked Questions about St John in Ephesus

Is Ephesus still a city?

Ephesus is still a city located within the borders of Izmir City in Turkey today. The current name of Ephesus is Selcuk. The Selçuk district of İzmir, that is, today’s Ephesus, has a population of 36000.

Did the apostle John live in Ephesus?

Although we do not have any written inscriptions, there is a strong belief that St. John came to Ephesus with the Virgin Mary after Jesus was crucified. However, there is a numerous of evidence confirming that Emperor Domitian exiled St. John to the Isle of Patmos for 8 years. During the period of Emperor Nevra, John was pardoned and returned to Ephesus, where he would live the rest of his life.

Does Ephesus still exist?

Today, the ancient city of Ephesus, which belongs to the Hellenistic and Roman periods, continues to be visited by millions of tourists. In addition, life continues in modern Ephesus as a district of İzmir under the name Selçuk.

How far from Ephesus to Jerusalem?

The distance between Ephesus and Jerusalem is approximately 10,500 kilometers.

When did the Apostle John go to Ephesus?

Right after Jesus was crucified, St. John immediately set out for Ephesus to spread Christianity and protect the Virgin Mary.

Where is St John the Evangelist buried?

According to the belief, St. John lived his last days in Ephesus and his tomb is in the Basilica of St. John in Ephesus today.

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If you want to explore the Basilica of St. John Ephesus on-site with us, you can reach us at the links below.

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