Legend has it that the Virgin
Mary lived her
last days on earth in a small stone
cottage on Mount Koressos (Bülbüldağı,
"Nightingale Mountain" in Turkish) to
the south of Ephesus (map).
Mary"), as the place is called, is
located in a municipal park on the
mountaintop 9 km (5.6 miles) from Selçuk,
5.5 km from the Upper Gate entrance
to the Ephesus
There is no regular public transport,
so to reach the site you'll
need your own vehicle, a taxi or a tour to take
you along the winding road up the steep
When you get to the entrance (open
every day from 08:00 to 19:00 [7 pm]),
you will be required to pay TL25
for your vehicle, and TL15
for each person in your party, making
this a surprisingly expensive excursion.
All of this money goes to the Municipality of Selçuk, which maintains the park. None of it goes to the shrine of the Virgin Mary, which asks for your support through donations.
Lost to history for centuries, the
foundations of the house were rediscovered
through the miraculous visions of a
German nun named Anne Catherine
Emmerich (1774-1824), who
gave detailed directions and descriptions
of the house.
Her directions were followed
by Abbé Julien Gouyet of Paris in 1881,
and by two Lazarist missionaries from
Izmir in 1891. Both expeditions
ended at the same place, a spot on
Mt Koressos which had been venerated
by local people—both Christian and
uncovered ancient stone foundations,
most from the 500s and 600s, but some
from the 1st century AD, when Mary
would have been alive.
Today the Virgin Mary's House is
a goal for pilgrims who come from far
away to visit the house rebuilt as
a chapel, to sip the waters of an adjoining
spring said to have curative powers,
and to enjoy the pine-shaded mountaintop
A commemorative service is held each
August 15th commemorating the Virgin
Mary's Assumption into heaven.
After a visit by Pope
Paul VI in 1967, the Catholic
church confirmed the authenticity
of the legend and the visions. Pope
John Paul II visited in 1979, and
Pope Benedict XVI in 2006.