During the excavations at Ephesus, more than 3,500 inscriptions have been found. Some of the most interesting are in a small cave on the slope of Bülbül Mountain (Nightingale Mountain). According to a local legend, when St. John brought the Virgin Mary to Ephesus from Jerusalem, they had no place to stay. John found this cave and hid Mary there for her safety. It was not until some time later that John located a more suitable home for Mary higher up on the mountain, known as Panaya Capoulu. In more recent years, the cave has been re-named “the Cave of St. Paul” due to the frescoes and inscriptions on the walls which refer to St. Paul.
The cave has been a Christian sacred site since the 1st or 2nd century. The walls were decorated with frescoes and inscriptions and white-washed several times, then re-painted with new images. Discovered under plaster on the walls are important 5th-century frescoes, with inscriptions, depicting the Virgin Mary, St. Paul and St. Thecla (a female disciple of Paul). This is the only known depiction of St. Paul at Ephesus and the earliest known appearance in the world of Paul and Thecla together.
The cave was discovered by a group of priests in 1892, while looking for the tomb of the Virgin Mary. Under the layers of plaster on the corridor walls are Greek phrases such as “the hidden of Mother of God” and “Paul help your servant”-written in charcoal and chalk. To protect these delicate and ancient wall frescoes, the cave is not open to the public. Unfortunately this site can not be visited during the private tours of Ephesus.
We offer private biblical tours of Ephesus, focused on St. Paul and conducted by expert Ephesus tour guides. For more information, please contact us.
Documentary of Cave of St. Paul in Ephesus:
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