When the Cayster (Kucuk Menderes) river that had played such a vital role in the life of Ephesus finally silted up, the town's remaining inhabitants moved a few miles/kilometers inland and established a new settlement on the site of what is now Selcuk (pronounced cell-juk), the charming small town that makes the best base for visiting the ruins.

Once a favorite with backpackers, Selcuk is moving slowly upmarket to meet the needs of a more discerning clientele. Unlike Kusadasi and Sirince, Selcuk has a life beyond tourism. The countryside around it is full of fruit trees, which makes it especially inviting in spring and autumn. Although the town center has some high-rise buildings, much of it remains pleasantly low-rise, and the oldest part around the Isa Bey Cami mosque is full of attractive historic buildings, including neighborhood mosques and tombs dating from the Middle Ages.

The heart of town is the bus station, with most accommodations and restaurants within easy walking distance. There's also a lively market. There's not much in the way of gourmet dining there, nor are there many upscale shops. However, there is a wide range of attractions, including a hammam (Turkish bath) and an aqueduct topped with storks' nests throughout the summer, as well as the impressive remains of the Basilica of St. John and the Ephesus Museum, a must for all visitors.

There's a decent beach 4.5 mi/7 km west of Selcuk at Pamucak, although it is overlooked by huge hotel developments and a large waterpark. On the outskirts of town off the road to Ephesus are the slight remains of the Temple of Artemis. A short taxi ride away is the so-called House of the Virgin Mary.

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