THE ancient city of Ephesus – over an hour away from Didim – is set to once again have a harbor on the Aegean coast, according to an ambitious new project.

In the ancient era Ephesus, which is today one of Turkey’s top tourist attractions, was connected to a harbor on the Aegean Sea with a broad canal, but the port and the canal have silted up by the Cayster River (Küçük Menderes) in the years since.

The area around Ephesus has turned into near-swampland and currently the city is six kilometers from the sea.

The 2nd regional director at State Hydraulic Works, Ali Fuat Eker, was quoted as saying by state-run Anadolu Agency that an “Antique Canal Project” would refill the canal and eventually link the ancient harbor to the sea once again.

A 6,130-meter section of the canal has been covered with alluvium over the centuries.

Eker said the project would also deepen and enlarge the canal, adding the tender for the project will be held on October 19 this year, with construction starting in February or March 2018.

He claimed that it would be carried out “carefully in order to not damage the historic fabric.”

“We have received the environmental impact assessment report needed for the tender process … The first stage of the project will be finished by March 2019,” Eker said.

The first stage of the project is forecast to cost around 30 million Turkish Liras ($8.5 million), he added.

“With the realization of the Antique Canal Project, we will return the region to its situation 2,500 years ago,” ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) İzmir deputy Atilla Kaya claimed, saying the project would further boost tourist numbers visiting Ephesus as they would be able to visit via the new canal route.

Ephesus, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was one of the seven churches of Asia that are cited in the Book of Revelation, and the Gospel of John may have been written in the ancient city. The city, the library façade of which is particularly famous, was also the site of several 5th-century Christian councils.

The ruins of Ephesus are a favorite international and local tourist attraction, partly owing to their easy access from Adnan Menderes Airport and via the port of Kuşadası.