Isa Bey Mosque

The history of Ephesus encapsulates to an extraordinary degree the his­tory of religion in the eastern Mediterranean: pagan, Christian, Muslim. From a single vantage point one can overlook the three monuments that symbolize this history: the Artemisium, Saint John’s Basilica, and the Mosque of Isa Bey. While the pagan worship of Artemis has no more than historical value in the present, the early Christian monuments and events at Ephesus still animate the use of the place today and endow it with contemporary religious value. This is especially true of the two monuments associated with the Virgin Mary.

Mosque of Isa(Jesus) Bey was built in 1375 and columns and stones for this mosque were recycled from the ruins of Ephesus and Artemesion, the Isa Bey Mosque is a classic example of Seljuk architecture. It is also the oldest known example of a Turkish mosque with a courtyard. It is fitting that Isabey translates into “Jesus,” as the structure owes its existence to the temples of other religions, and possibly testifies to the religious tolerance exhibited by the Selçuk Turks.

The jumble of architectural styles suggests a transition between Seljuk and Ottoman design: like later-day Ottoman mosques, this one has a large courtyard, though the interior is plain (in the 19th century, it doubled as a kervansaray). The structure is built out of spolia, or “borrowed” stone: marble blocks with Latin inscriptions, Corinthian columns, black-granite columns from the baths at Ephesus, and pieces from the altar of the Temple of Artemis. Don’t miss it if you’re visiting the St. John Basilica—it’s a three-minute walk downhill as you turn out of the gate.

Marble columns from Temple of Artemis were used while building of Isa Bey Mosque by Ottoman workers. Columns inside the mosque seems very alive and astounds you to see that kind of a workship.