Ephesus has had a long tradition of being a centre of religious pilgrimage. The earliest pilgrims arrived to worship the Anatolian goddess known as Kybele. Later, this deity merged with the Greek goddess Artemis and was venerated at the great Artemision, attracting the pilgrims from all over the Mediterranean region.
These ancient cults of female deities were later echoed in the worship of St. Mary, mother of Jesus, that supposedly spent the last years of her life in Ephesus. According to this tradition,
Mary arrived at Ephesus together with St. John and lived there until her Assumption (according to the Catholic doctrine) or Dormition (according to the Orthodox beliefs). The House of the Virgin Mary (Meryem Ana Evi in Turkish) which can be still visited today, is a place where, according to the beliefs of many people, Mary, the mother of Jesus, spent the last years of her life. However, similarly to the history of St. John, there are many questions and uncertainties regarding this location.