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Published: June 21st 2009
Today has been fantastic. We went out riding. There were some great roads, wide and winding through mountains, able to go fast enough to stay cool. I got stung by a wasp through my t-shirt, my leather was open, but that is no big deal.
We managed to visit 4 ancient sites. Magnesia which we came to by chance, and the three planned for, Didim because of the fantastic Apollo oracle, Miletus because it is there and interesting, and Pirene to take in the stunning views and position, and the proper theatre. Needless to say we took lots of pictures. More words on each below.
We didn't know it was there but when we saw it flash past we decided to visit. The man on the gate promised to watch the jackets and helmets so we didn't need to padlock them to the bike. He also explained the site to us. They have not excavated much of what seems to be a very large site, but we saw an Artemis temple (complete with frogs and turtles) and a small piece of fresco in the baths (which are under a shelter but seem to be exceptionally well preserved).
Whiich reminds me, the steps we take to and from town from the Homeros are covered in tiny frogs. I think they are very cute.
Not the first time we have been but it is one of the most evocative sites in Turkey. It's not over-touristed - we were not alone anywhere today, but it was really not busy. There are several finely worked Medusa heads as you walk in then these immensely high columns. We have a photo, but it's difficult to explain how immensely tall they are. Then you go through finely carved passages into the sanctuary where they have put several pediments on the ground - fantastic carvings of hippogrifs and some mythological animal that looks like a winged leopard. It's very peaceful in there. I believe it retains a lot of its original atmosphere as a very visited oracle.
Ashley found the nearby Artemis temple. Not much there. Just the floor, really, and some bits, but it was interesting.
We didn't poke around the English colony in Didim but, after a brief stop for petrol, proceeded to Miletus.
We had tea at Miletus which is much more set up for
tourists than I remember it. Not greatly - there's a few temporary looking stalls selling the usual food, drink and souvenirs. There's a massive roman theatre and a harbour monument (and no one is quite sure what it commemorates - victory either over pirates or Mark Anthony are suggested on the boards). Past that there is what was probably an Artemis temple running into a monumental fountain. What you actually see though, is a swamp. A swamp full of white birds. There were definitely storks (OK, they're not totally white, but large parts of them are). Ashley says there were avocets, though I didn't see any (I don't have prescription lenses in my sunglasses). There were some birds that looked a lot like herons. I am not sure what they were. We worked our way as close to the birds as we could then went back to the bike.
Priene is one of those sites with atmosphere. Most of what is there is fairly flat, but it's in a wonderful situation - high up with views right across the Menderes plain. They no longer label the structure at the bottom the Temple of Zeus. They have decided it
was dedicated to Asclepios. There is a nice Athena temple near to the top of the site - I think I would have been more impressed by the rather lovely ionic pillars if we hadn't been at Didyma in the morning. The theatre is also a proper hellenistic one, only mildly 'altered' by the romans. The view from it is rather obscured by trees but the trees do provide some very appreciated shade.
It was noisy there. The noise came from grasshoppers, birds and, probably, frogs. It sounded like frogs though we didn't see any. Nor did we see much water. Maybe they were tree frogs. We did see some very large and impressive lizards.
Now we are on the terrace enjoying our beer. Ashley drove wonderfully and he deserves it!
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