Basilica of St. John

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St. John came to Ephesus with Mother Mary after the crucifixion of Jesus. He first wrote the Book of Revelation where he was on exile on Patmos Island and completed The Gospel of John at Ephesus where he lived here for the rest of his life. He requested to be buried on Ayasuluk Hill in Selcuk because he found it peaceful.

The Basilica of St. John on Ayasulk Hill in Izmir. It was built during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian I over what was believed to be St. John’s burial chamber. When first constructed, it was a simple, mausoleum-like structure that also served as a church. In the 4th century AD a basilica was built over the existing church, but much of it was destroyed by earthquakes and the raids. Two hundred years later, Emperro Justinian ordered a much larger basilica to be built in the same place.

The Basilica of St. John was constructed in a cross form which was covered with six domes. The construction was unique for its time. The structure is beautiful but constructed for defense in case of the raids during the 7th – 8th centuries AD.  The builders used as it used marble stone and brick covered to fortify the walls then covered them with marble. The tomb of St. John was located beneath the central dome. The columns in the courtyard have the monograms of Emperor Justinian and his wife Theodora, and the basilica is adorned with impressive frescoes representing St. John, Jesus and an unknown Saint, These frescoes have been dated to the 10th century AD.

Mosaics and marble plates of varying colors decorated the entire inside of the church. The effect was to make the whole church seem as if it was covered in grand oriental carpets.  Even the large domes located over the central crossing, choir, transepts and the nave were covered in mosaic tiles. Massive marble pillars were built to support these domes and the tile pieces.

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