The Basilica of St. John

According to the historian Eusebios, St. John returned to Ephesus with Mary after being banished from Jerusalem between 37 and 42 A.D. He continued to write the Bible after a period he died here at Ephesus. Following his will, he was buried in the southern foothills of Ayasuluk Hill.

Basilica of St John
Basilica of St John today

The Basilica of St. John was constructed over burial site of John the Apostle by Emperor Justinian in the 6th century. It is located on the slopes of Ayasoluk Hill just below the fortress near the center of Selcuk, Selcuk district, İzmir Province, Turkey and about 3.5 km from Ephesus.

First wooden-roofed Early Christian church was constructed in 5th AD. The monumental Basilica of St. John which had a shape of a cross and was covered with six domes was built in 6th AD. The burrial chamber was raised by two steps and covered with marble, the tomb of St. John was under the central dome, that was once carried by the four columns at the corners. The Monograms of Emperor Justinian reveals by the columns in the courtyard. Ayasuluk Hill was encircled with walls constructed in the 7th – 8th centuries AD to protect the Basilica of St. John against the Arabian raids.

The outer part of the walls was constructed from the materials which were brougt from structures of Ephesus. In the interior the church was decorated with the impressive 10th century AD frescoes representing St. John, Jesus and a Saint, the chapel. The church was covered in mosaic while the walls and pillars were covered in marble plates and decorated in different colors. There were two square in plan towers on the other site of the strong main entrance known as ‘Gate of Persuit’. The arch entrance in the middle of these towers were ornamented with ivy frieze.

The belief that a healing dust came out of a hole in the burial chamber of St. John as St. John was not dead in, but sleeping beneath his tomb, made the Basilica of St. John one of the most visited places of the Christian world all through the Middle Ages and caused people to come here in searh of recovery from even far away lands.