Hometown of the philosopher Heraclitus, and possibly the final home of the Virgin Mary, Ephesus was visited by Cicero, Julius Caesar, Cleopatra and Mark Antony, as well as by the emperors Trajan and Hadrian. Saint Paul may have written his first letter to the Corinthians when in prison here, and Saint John's tomb is in the ruined basilica, next to the Byzantine citadel overlooking the nearby town of Selcuk.
Ephesus was the first city in the world to have street lighting, and also boasts the earliest known advertising. The largest of the two theatres could hold an audience of 24,000 spectators, which gives an idea of the scale of the city at its peak. In 262 AD, Ephesus was destroyed by the Goths and, although it was not abandoned until several centuries later, the city's glory was eclipsed forever. Excavation of the remains was begun in the nineteenth century, and it is estimated that a scant twenty percent has yet come to light, although already what has been uncovered offers a fine open-air museum on a scale that will impress even those usually unmoved by ancient ruins.