In 250AD seven young Christians, having refused to denounce their Christian beliefs, were said to have hidden in a cave close to Ephesus to escape religious persecution by the Roman Emperor Decius. The young men went to the cave to pray and fell asleep prompting the Emperor to have the cave sealed. The men were awakened 300 years later by a landowner wanting to use the cave as a cattle pen. Thinking they had only been asleep for one day one of the men returned to Ephesus to find Christian churches and their 200 year old coins long out of date. The local bishop was summoned to meet the Seven Sleepers and declared the events a miracle and the men were later buried in the cave when they died. The Grotto of the Seven Sleepers is also an important Muslim site and the story is referred to in the Qur’an as the People of the Cave.
Things to do in Ephesus tip: we found the Grotto of the Seven Sleeps interesting to visit but it should be noted that the site is in a state of disrepair and only viewable through a fence.