The story surrounding the Cave of the Seven Sleepers recalls the story of a several young men who sought refuge in a cave out outside Ephesus to escape persecution under Decius, roughly around year 250. Indeed, this courageous group refused to obey the greedy king, which had forced his entire kingdom to worship idols he himself selected, and chose to flee their homeland and pursue their faith in God instead. They woke up some odd 200 years later, only to find out the world had completely changed and Ephesus had become a place of freedom for all Christians. They all died a natural death many years later and were all buried in the cave in which they had slept for so long. The grotto was quick to become a major pilgrimage site, and several people asked to be buried there along with the Sleepers over the following centuries.
Today, the area surrounding the Cave of the Seven Sleepers is technically fenced off but most visitors take advantage of the poor state of the structure to climb over and get full access to the cave, where they can visit the church in which the sleepers were buried; there also are numerous 5th-century terracotta lamps, which depict scenes from the Old Testament and various pagan scenes from Greek and Roman mythology and prove the existence of paganism in the region.
The Cave of the Seven Sleepers in located on the eastern slope of Panayirdag Hill near Ephesus, Turkey. From the Vedius Gymnasium in Ephesus, it is possible to reach the cave via a clear, half-mile pathway.