The Church of Virgin Mary, which is 9 kilometers from Selçuk district of Izmir, is located on Bülbül Mountain. When you leave the upper gate of the ancient city of Ephesus, you can reach it through winding roads. On the way, you can see a very impressive statue of the Virgin Mary next to a sign indicating that it is 6 kilometers to the church.
The House of the Virgin Mary is one of the few important places in the world that tourists visit especially for pilgrimage. It is a highly spiritual place where people can perform their religious duties.
On the way to the church, after passing the souvenir shops, there is a baptismal pool in the shape of a key in the middle of a large garden. Christians, who come into the world as sinners, are baptized in this key-shaped pool at the age of infants and open the gates of heaven. Right next to the baptismal pool is a statue. The small bronze statue of Mary, which you can see in the company of olive trees planted by Lazarist priests, was a gift from a religious community from Izmir in 1867.
Information about the history of the Church and House of the Virgin Mary
How did the Virgin Mary come to Ephesus? Before Jesus was crucified at the age of 33, he entrusted his mother to his friend and apostle St. Jean (John). St. Jean found it inconvenient for Mary to stay in Jerusalem due to Roman persecution and came with Mary to Ephesus, the largest and most peaceful city of the age. St. jean, who had a sacred duty to spread the Christian religion, hid Mary from the public and hid her in a secret hut covered with dense trees on Bülbül Mountain. It is believed that Mary spent her last days in the House of the Virgin Mary, which was declared sacred by the Vatican, the administrative center of the Christian religion. Christian historians state that the Virgin Mary lived in the place on Mount Bülbül until she was 101 years old and that her tomb is also on Mount Bülbül in an unknown place.
In Germany, a bedridden patient named Anna Katharina Emmerick consoled herself with private visions of the life of Jesus and Mary. As these visions progressed, she was able to describe historical places, people and events in more detail. Her story attracted the attention of the German poet Clemens Brentano, who moved to a place near her and began to take notes of what she said. After Anna’s death, the poet published a book called The Life of Mary according to the visions of Anna Katharina Emmerick, and in the book, there is the following passage about the House of the Virgin Mary.
After the ascension of Jesus, Mary lived three years in Sion (Jerusalem), three years in Bethany and nine years in Ephesus. St. Jean brought her here after the Jews abandoned Lazarus and his sister at sea. Mary did not live in Ephesus proper, but a little further away, where some of her friends had settled. Her house was on the top of a mountain, to the left of the road from Jerusalem, 3.5 miles from Ephesus. From the south of this city, a number of narrow paths lead to the top of a mountain covered with wild vegetation. There is a rugged plateau towards the summit. This is also covered with vegetation and is about half a mile wide. It is here that the Virgin Mary’s residence was established. The area is quite desolate, dotted with lovely and fertile hills, caves can be seen in small gaps in the earth; it is beautiful, with regular but untouched hills, sparse trees in the shape of pyramids, shady and with straight trunks.
The story of the discovery of the House of the Virgin Mary
A group of people who had read the story of the Virgin Mary in books, to make sure that the story was true, took into account the descriptions in the books and set off with a compass in their hands. In those times, when there was no asphalt on the roads and no cars under them, it took a lot of effort to climb a mountain. On the mountain where they set out with the desire to see the House of the Virgin Mary, they asked for water from the women they came across, exhausted from the heat. They headed towards the small forest, which was 10 minutes away, where the women pointed them to find water.
Near the water source, they saw the ruins of a church and tried to connect the surrounding landscape with Emmerick’s book. They found the place with Ephesus on one side and the sea on the other. With the expeditions in the following days, the house where the Virgin Mary lived became clear.
If you want to enter the House of the Virgin Mary, built of stone and in the shape of a pilgrimage, it is necessary to wear a scarf on your head out of respect. You can see Christians worshipping sincerely in the house where the statue of the Virgin Mary is located. You can buy up to two candles inside, with or without a donation, and when you leave, you can light them and plant them in the areas prepared for candles.
On the left as you leave the house, you can read the suras and verses of the Koran that mention Mary in both Turkish and French. In 1985, at the request of the governor of Izmir, these inscriptions were placed to remind us that Muslims also glorify and respect Mary.
O Mary, bow down to your Lord, prostrate yourself and bow down with those who bow down before Him! – Surah Al-Imran, Verse 43
After leaving the Virgin Mary’s house and lighting the candles, you are presented with the Prayer of Praise to the Virgin Mary.
Hail, holy Queen, holy Theotokos, Mary, you who by your chastity formed the Church, and the Holy Heavenly Father has chosen you. He has blessed you with his beloved holy Son and with the consoling Holy Spirit. Thou art always full of all graces and favors, Hail, O palace of God, Hail, Holy Eucharistic Box of God, Hail, House of God, Hail, Garment of God, Hail, servant of God, Hail. O holy virtues, hail all of you, awaken the hearts of the faithful by the grace and light of the Holy Spirit and transform their disloyalty into fidelity to God. – St. Francis of Assisi
After the House of the Virgin Mary, you go down the stairs and drinkable water flows from three fountains flowing from the stone blocks. Some of the people think that the water is healing and fill their bottles with it for later use.
The pieces of paper or napkins that start right next to the fountains in the Church of the Virgin Mary and continue along the entire wall are the prayers of those who come here to make a wish. The wishes written on the napkins or papers are somehow attached to thousands of other wishes and in this way a wish-making routine is carried out.
What are the entrance fee and visiting hours of Virgin Mary House?
When you arrive at the Virgin Mary House, in addition to the parking fee for the vehicle, you are charged for the number of people. The price paid as an entrance fee goes to the Selçuk Municipality, and it is especially stated on a sign that you will see after entering that the Virgin Mary Church survives with the donations made and the souvenirs bought at the entrance.
Where is the House of Virgin Mary and how to get there?
Virgin Mary House is located within the borders of Meryemana Nature Park. The distance between Ephesus Ancient City / Ephesus Ruins and the House of Virgin Mary is 9km (15 minutes). Tourists coming to Kuşadası also visit the House of Virgin Mary, which is on the list of places to visit around Kuşadası. The distance between the two tourist spots is 25km. If you are coming from Izmir Airport, a 70km road awaits you.