BASILICA OF ST. JOHN

At his crucifixion Jesus asked his beloved disciple, John, to look after his mother. John and the Virgin went to Ephesus between 42 and 48 AD and lived there. John was martyred under the rule of the Emperor Trajan. There has been much discussion as to whether John the Apostle is confused with St. John the Theologian whose name, Hagia Theologos, gave the Turkish name first for the town and later only for the hill, Ayasuluk. A small church on the Ayasuluk Hill was dedicated to him in the 2C AD. This church was replaced in the 6C by a huge basilica built by the Emperor Justinian, the impressive ruins of which are still visible.

The basilica had a cruciform plan with four domes along its longitudinal axis and a pair flanking the central dome to form the arm of the cross. Under the central dome was the sacred grave of St. John. Pilgrims have believed that a fine dust from his grave has magical and curative powers. In the apse of the central nave, beyond the transept is the synthronon, semicircular rows of seats for the clergy. To the north transept was attached the treasury which was later converted into a chapel. The baptistery is from an earlier period and now located to the north of the nave.

The citadel at the top of the Ayasuluk Hill is a 6C AD Byzantine construction which was later extended by the Seljuks. Lower down the slopes of Ayasuluk Hill is the Isa Bey Camisi, a 14C AD mosque of the Aydinoglu Principality period. It was built by Isa Bey, a grandson of the founder of the Principality. This is the earliest known example in Anatolia of a mosque that has an arcaded courtyard and pool. It is also the earliest representative of an Anatolian mosque with columns and a transept. It is the last example of the consecutive different religions; pagan temple, Christian church and Moslem mosque.

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