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Apostle Paul spent nearly 3 years in Ephesus. Several Biblical events took place during Apostle Paul’s time in Ephesus such as Burning of the Books on Magic in Ephesus, Riot of Silversmiths in Ephesus, Incident with the Seven Sons of Sceva, Preaching in the Hall of Tyrannus and many more.
The Grotto of Apostle Paul in Ephesus is one of the most special attractions in Ephesus Archeological Site. The Grotto is located off the main touring route in Ephesus. Also reaching the Grotto of Apostle Paul requires a special permission to be acquired from the Ephesus Archeological Museum. There is a certain amount of extra admission money to be paid too. You can contact me for arranging everything needed to have a perfect visit to the Grotto of Apostle Paul during your tour of Ephesus.
Maybe Paul’s Cave is very well known but at the same time it might be the least visited attraction in Ephesus. I believe it is mainly due to the location of the cave. Also, delicate contents such as fragile frescoes on the walls of the cave should be protected that’s why it is not a good idea to open the cave to the large number of everyday visitors of Ephesus Ancient City. I joined an expedition to the Grotto of Apostle Paul and made some exclusive photos for you. Also, you can find an exclusive video which shows detailed scenes from the interior of the Paul’s Cave in Ephesus.
Road to the Grotto of Apostle Paul in Ephesus
I recommend using the lower entrance of Ephesus ancient city since it will be closer to the road leading to the Grotto of Apostle Paul. After walking through Tetragonos Agora or the Harbor Street by the Ephesus Grand Theater you will come across a stairway. You should climb the stairs located in between Library of Celsus and Terrace Houses to reach the gate leading to the cave. I will get the keys from Ephesus Archeological Site management which will unlock the doors located on our way to the Cave of Paul.
Entrance of the Grotto of Apostle Paul in Ephesus
After walking a very scenic road and enjoying views of the ruins in Ephesus, you will reach the entrance of the Cave of Paul in Ephesus. The Entrance of the cave is protected by a padlock and I will have the key for it. Gate’s height is about one and a half meter, so you should be careful while getting into the cave. Cave’s inner height is about two meters making it very comfortable to walk inside.
Things to See in the Grotto of Apostle Paul in Ephesus
First Frescoes on the Right
There will be three frescoes from the 6th century welcoming you on the entrance of the Grotto of Apostle Paul. The first one is Saint Thecla. The second one which is in the middle is Apostle Paul and the third one is Theoclia. This painting tells us the story of Saint Paul with Saint Thecla in Iconium.
Apostle Paul and Thecla met for the first time in Iconium (today's Turkish city of Konya). When Paul came to Iconium to spread Christianity, Thecla was an engaged young girl belonging to one of the most important families of the city. Paul gave a sermon in the house of Onesiphorus about virginity and chastity. Listening to Paul's sermon from the window of his adjoining house (as it is shown on the fresco painted on the wall of the Grotto of Apostle Paul in Ephesus) for three days and three nights, Thecla was so impressed that she gave up marrying and devoted herself to Christianity. The mother of Thecla, Theoclia who did not want her daughter to become a Christian, and Thecla's abandoned fiancée could not pursue her giving up her decision, prepared a conspiracy against Apostle Paul. They have Paul thrown into the dungeon and tried to prevent Thecla seeing him. But Thecla managed to enter Paul's cell by giving the guards her jewels and continued to listen to his teachings in the dungeon. Learning that their daughter was with Paul in the dungeon, the family took Saint Paul and Thecla out of the dungeon, and they were questioned again. At the end of the interrogation, it was decided that Paul would be whipped and thrown out of Iconium.
Graffities on the Wall
So far 300 different graffities were identified on the walls of the Grotto of Apostle Paul in Ephesus. Graffities can be seen on both sides of the cave. They are all written in Greek which makes us to believe local people who visited this cave left them on the walls. Translations showed that the main theme of these graffities is asking for forgiveness and good health.
Fresco of Jesus and Saint George in the Grotto of Apostle Paul
You will see an amazing fresco when you reach to the end of the Grotto of Apostle Paul. Fresco of Jesus and Saint George covers three walls of the cave. Jesus Christ stands in the middle. Jesus Christ is shown as a young man, and he does not have any beard. Saint George is on the right side. We realized it is Saint John thanks to his well known spear. Unfortunately so far the other figures could not be identified.
Fresco showing Binding of Isaac
Biblical story of Binding of Isaac can be seen on the walls of the cave. It is Abraham standing on the left and hand of Isaac on the altar can be seen on the right.
Then God said, "Take your son, your only son, whom you love--Isaac--and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you." - Genesis 22:2