Have you heard of Ephesus...? yeah us neither... but surprisingly it is one of those awe-inspiring, magical places on earth. It is about 70 minutes outside of Izmir - which is the port city in Turkey where our ship docked this morning. We took a cruise organized tour, and our tour guide was once again local and fantastic. She talked about Turkey with a passion and knowledge that made you want to learn more about the country, it's people and it's history.
Ephesus was our main stop, and Andra was especially pleased with the numerous stray cats that called this historical town home. This ruined Roman city was the most complete and expansive ruins we have experienced on this trip. Many of the marble streets are fairly intact and even some of the aqueducts (yes! they had a sewer system back then!) are still visible. It is more than 2000 years old and once housed tens of thousands of Greeks & Romans. It has hosted visits from important historical figures including Cleopatra and Marc Antony. It is also said to be one of the locations that housed St. John the Evangelist, who it is claimed wrote his bible passages from
Ephesus. It was also home to the Library of Celsus, which was the 3rd largest library in the ancient (behind Alexandria and Pergamon) world. Books here where taken by Mark Antony to Alexandria, Egypt, as a gift to Cleopatra. Subsequently, these books were destroyed by fire.
After Ephesus we made our way to a Turkish carpet making school. The Turks are known for their carpets and are actually said to have invented carpet making. The school is a government funded organization and has been predominately created for women to allow them to maintain this cultural tradition and also provide some transferable skills that wouldn't otherwise be available to the rural community. We saw how silk was spun, carpets were made, and got to feel some of the exquisite finished products. If you were in the market to buy such a fine item this was certainly the time to buy. The prices were fraction of the cost of a Turkish rug that you might find in North America (but still $1500 at the low end). Alas...the Turkish rug will have to be acquired on another visit.
Everywhere throughout our day we noticed these glass blue “eyes”. Hanging in rooms,
windows, from car mirrors, set in cement walkways, on peoples wrists....our guide explained that the Turkish are a very superstitious people. And these “evil eyes” were once meant to ward off the bad luck that people from other cultures (Turks are mainly brown eyed) bring with them when travelling in Turkey. Thus today they put them everywhere they wish to avoid bad luck and bad events. We now travel with the eye.
Turkey is a fantastic country, and one we'd like to explore more.
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