Kusadasi resort, which is located on the Aegean coast of Turkey, is enjoying the advantage of being just a stone’s throw from numerous fascinating attractions. Among them, the historic sites of Ephesus, Miletus and Priene or the famous settlement of Sirince which produces the equally famous Greek wine. Do not forget Dilek National Park, a protected area in which there live numerous species plants and animals.
The beginnings of Christianity more than 1000 years ago have a strong connection with this region. Many historians say that the Roman city of Ephesus is the place where St. John wrote his Evangelic texts and furthermore, up on the green hills of Selcuk, is home to the Virgin Mary, which is believed to have died here. Nearby, but rarely mentioned in travel guides, lies the cave of the Seven Sleepers. Do you believe in miracles or not, it is impossible to miss this cave, once arrived in the area.
The seven sleepers were seven young men who believed strongly in Christianity and were brought in front of Decius, the leader of that time, to give explanations about their actions. Following their refusal to repent for deeds that they had been accused for, they were closed by force in a cave, hoping that the lack of food, water and natural light, will kill them.
But they fell into a deep sleep and woke up 200 years later; as they started to walk on the streets of Ephesus, they were amazed by the changes that have occurred in the city, especially the existence of churches and freedom enjoyed by Christians. They lived quietly and then they and died in the end, only to be buried in the same cave where they slept the sleep of long hundreds of years.
The Bishop of Ephesus recalled their legend for the first time in the year 481 B.C., but it appears in Islam – written in the Qur’an (Surah 18, verse 9-26). The story is different in the sense that there is also a dog who accompanied the seven individuals, who stood guard at the entrance of the cave, removing anyone who tried to enter inside.
Although it is now forbidden to enter the cave nowadays, visitors can see inside it and can visit the church built on land above the cave. Interesting artifacts are on display, including lanterns and stones with different notes, unearthed in excavations sometime around 1930. Here there are other graves, because long after the death of the Seven Sleepers, the cave was a place of burial for other Christians as well. Historians also suspected that the pagans have joined the Christian faith, thanks to the discovery of the miraculous artifacts.
In order to get to the cave, you have to go downtown the town of Selcuk and then just follow the signs.
Photo source: Picture 1: panoramio.com; Picture 2: katolsk.no; Picture 3: ephesusprivatetour.net; Picture 4: panoramio.com; Picture 5: magical-steps.com; Picture 6: ancientephesus.com