The Legend of the Seven Sleepers
Biblical Attractions Around Ephesus

The Legend of the Seven Sleepers

The Seven Sleepers legend is a story that has been circulated in Anatolia and around the world for centuries. It is claimed that this story, which is even mentioned in the holy books, took place in Anatolian lands. Although this legend has been told in different ways over time, we can say that the general lines of the story are repetitive in many versions.

Cave of Seven Sleepers in Ephesus
Cave of Seven Sleepers in Ephesus

According to legend Christianity was spreading rapidly around the year 250. Decius, the Roman Emperor of the period, who was a complete Christian enemy, wanted to stop the spread of Christianity. Decius’ aim was to make Christians worship idols again. Some Christians left the region after Emperor Decius had the captured Christians burned alive, put them on stakes and killed them with various terrible tortures.

Tomb in the Cave of Seven Sleepers in Ephesus
Tomb in the Cave of Seven Sleepers in Ephesus

There were 7 friends who left the city. These 7 friends, were known to be from Ephesus, escaped at the hands of Decius’ soldiers and hid in a cave on the skirts of Mount Panayır in Ephesus. In the meantime, the Emperor, who learned the hiding place of the 7 friends, immediately sent his men to the cave and had the cave’s entrance sealed with large stones.

People forgot about the seven boys hiding in the cave over time. The stones in front of the cave were taken years later by the workers who wanted to make the cave a shelter for the nearby people. While the works in the cave were going on, 7 young people woke up and the young man, whose name was Yemliha, went to Ephesus to find food with the fear of getting cought by the soldiers.

Grotto of Seven Sleepers in Ephesus
Grotto of Seven Sleepers in Ephesus

Reaching the city, Yemliha bought bread from a bakery and gave to the baker some coins he had in his pocket. The baker was suddenly surprised when he saw the money and asked Yemliha where he got this money. This question surprised Yemliha even more. Thereupon, the baker said that these coins were used 200 years ago during the reign of Emperor Decius, whereas Theodosius was the emperor now. Surprised by the baker’s words, Yemliha said that he slept yesterday and woke up in the morning. Yemliha, who went back to the cave, told his friends what happened. Not knowing what to do, the young people finally decided to go back to sleep and unfortunately they could not wake up again. Emperor Theodosius, who was aware of the situation, went to the cave with his men and found 7 young people sleeping. It is said that the faces of the seven young men were shining brightly.

The Legend of the Seven Sleepers is known to both Muslims and Christians. Although the story is told in different ways on both sides, the general lines of the stories are similar.

Read more – The Cave of the Seven Sleepers nearby Ephesus