Ephesus


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Middle East » Turkey » Aegean » Ephesus
January 10th 2013
Published: January 12th 2013EDIT THIS ENTRY

Very cold again this morning for our visit to Ephesus, but with a clear blue sky and sunshine - fantastic. We left the hotel at 9.00am and we were being dropped off at the Eastern (uphill) side of Ephesus by about twenty past. What a difference from last year! We were very close to being the only tourists at the Eastern Gymnasium and Baths of the State Agora as Yalçin introduced us to the ancient city of Ephesus. Last year our guide stood with us under a lovely, leafy tree. It was strange to see that tree without its leaves today. While the ruins may endure the seasons with little visible change, the surroundings certainly reflect the passage of the year.

We took our time strolling through the Upper (State) Agora (the city's centre of commerce and administration), the Basilica and the Odeon (small theatre). An occasional busload of tourists overtook us but, on the whole, we were able to snap away to our heart's content without having to wait for tourists to move out of shot!!

Once again there were cats everywhere. There was a private guide with a couple of tourists who had a bag of cat food with her that she was doling out along the way. That certainly caused some squabbles amongst the cats. Even in winter there must be quite a few guides and tourists bringing food for the cats, because they looked to be reasonably well fed. With quite a few cats sporting shaved sides we wondered if there is a de-sexing program in place to try to reduce the number of stray cats??

Last year we weren't given the option of visiting the terrace houses, but Yalçin told us that we could go into the terrace houses if we wanted to pay the additional fee. We opted to go in to view the remains of the dwellings of the wealthy residents of Ephesus. We are glad that we paid the extra to look at this section of the site on the side of Mount Bülbül as the floor mosaics and walls decorated with marble and frescoes where impressive.

Next, the Library of Celsus - constructed by Consul Gaius Julius Aquila in 117 AD as a monumental tomb for his father Celsus Polamaeanus, the General Governor of Asia. The facade is so spectacular ... and we had it to ourselves for photographs! We were very excited to be able to take photos of the temple and the Tetragonas Agora (adjoining marketplace) without any other tourists in them. So what it it's freezing cold - it's worth it for the photo opportunities!

From the library square we strolled along the marble street to the Great Theatre. Located on the southern flank of Mount Panayir, the theatre was first constructed in the Hellenistic Age. Today's ruins are Roman and date to the 1st and 2nd centuries AD. With a capacity of 24,000 people the theatre at Ephesus was the greatest in the ancient world.

Today we had the opportunity to visit another section of the city that we didn't see in May 2012 when we walked over to the remains of the Church of St Mary. The ruins are extensive and the church must have been an impressive monument to Christianity in its heyday.

After some lunch - cafeteria style food today - we were taken to a leather manufacturer. The factory's new season's styles were modelled for us and then we were taken into the showroom where we were told that only sheep's leather is used as it is much finer than the leather from other animals. The leather was very soft and the coats and jackets beautiful, but we resisted the temptation to make any purchases. Even tax free and with factory discount (about 25% off European RRP) the coats were pretty expensive - between US$600 and US$900.

After the leather factory we drove to the ruins of the Temple of Artemis - one of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World. There's not much of it left today but, once again, it must have been an impressive building when it was constructed. Archaeological work on the site is hampered by the fact that the temple was constructed on swampy land and any excavations tend to fill with water. The temple materials were re-used to construct the ****Basilica of St John on the site of his grave. In time the Christian monument was sacked and a mosque was built. Today you can stand in one spot and see the remains of the pagan temple and the ruins of the Christian church with a Muslim mosque nestled between them.

We were back in Kusadasi by mid-afternoon so we took a walk along the waterfront before retiring to our room for a couple of hours before dinner. It is very quiet in Kusadasi at the moment but, come summer, it will be inundated with tourists taking in the ancient Greek and Roman sites on their Mediterranean cruises.

Steps for the day: 16,803 (11.47km)


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