Amazon Queen or Honey Bee

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Middle East » Turkey » Aegean » Ephesus
March 30th 2018
Published: April 1st 2018
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Hot on the heels of our visit to Troy, today we are off to see another ancient city, this time Ephesus. This city was named after one of two things; either 'Efersia’ - Amazon Queen - named after the legendary wacko Amazonian women who cut off their left breasts to make it easier to use their bows and who are said to have founded the city OR after the symbol of the city, 'apis’ - honey bee. I know which I prefer, take your pick.

There are also two reasons to explain why Ephesus is situated where it is. There's the highly implausible: access to the sea for trading and between mountains as it's easier to defend OR the much more likely: Ionian Prince Androclos was given a sign by the Delphi oracle who said to make the city where a boar and a fish told him to. That night while frying a fish it jumped out of the pan and landed in a bush whereupon a boar ran out. So Ephesus was built where the half cooked fish landed. As I'm sure you'll agree - eminently more plausible!

Near to our hotel in Selcuk is where one of the seven wonders of the world used to stand, the Temple of Artemis. It had previously been a less opulent building but fell victim to a crazed fire starter Herostratus who burnt it to the ground. A bigger, better temple was erected and Artemis was well pleased. What relevance does this have to Ephesus? It's another case of not having the Broads Authority dredging know how to get rid of all the silt build up that meant losing access to water. The city had to be moved to a new location near to the sea where the ruins of Ephesus now stand.

Once the city came under Roman rule they blinged it up in a pimp my city kind of crusade and named it ‘the first and greatest metropolis of Asia’. 250,000 people lived at Ephesus during the Roman era and it was the trading and banking centre of Asia'.

Guess what? More river silt kept blocking the harbour, but as dredging wasn't a thing then the city gradually got too far from the sea and the great city began to lose its usefulness.

Walking around what is left of the city of Ephesus is utterly awe inspiring. The ingenuity and skills used to create decorative splendour, entertainment, baths to keep citizens clean and illness free, gymnasiums, theatres, libraries, the impressive Curetes Street, many temples, and even a brothel. The houses were laid out in a grid system making it easier to install water supplies via clay pipes and cisterns.

As with all trips to such places the little things are sometimes the most interesting. We are shown a cross section of a column with two square holes each side each with a gulley running off to the edge.these were filled with lead to strengthen the columns and ensure they remained standing. We also see a relief carving of Nike the Goddess of Victory - so that's where the sports brand name comes from.

I forgot to mention, every so often there's a little cat sunning itself on one of the columns or statues. Most of them are happy to be stroked and get their heads scratched in just the right spot. They are adorable and make the place seem more lived in.

Ephesus is so huge, it's really quite overwhelming. At one point I’m busy taking photos of some of the gorgeous mosaic patterns on the floor when I look up to find my group has disappeared. I fail to find them so go into a covered area called the ‘terraced houses’ to try and find them.
There's not a single person in here despite the hoards outside, maybe because it costs extra to get in. I just wave my VIP museum card at the barrier an in I go. There are tables laid out with jigsaw puzzles of wall and floor coverings that archaeologists are usually busy working on. I also get to see some amazing wall frescos and mosaic floors of the terraces of houses that I get to walk around on ever higher walkways. The detail in the decorations is stunning. Ephesus was one major show of wealth and opulence. I still can't see my group so carry on down the famous Curetes Street and see the huge library building. I have a quick look at the amphitheatre but because I think I'm way behind my group keep on heading towards the exit. I wait around here for ages, check out the buses to if they're waiting for me in the car park, but nope not there. Sod it, I'm having an ice-cream. Still no sign of them so I get a re-entry ticket and eventually find the group trailing way behind where I'd been. Somehow we'd missed each other and I wasn't in the group when they were told they had some free time to wander about so missed the instructions on where to meet and when! Since I'd been expected to mind read these instructions I figured it was only fair if my tour leader had to mind read that I wasn't going to revisit all the places I'd already been so didn’t tell him I was off to sit with the kitty cats instead. I even got one to sit on my lap, yay.

Ephesus done it was time to go get some lunch. Bye bye Amazon Queen. Bye, bye Honey Bee and bye, bye kitty cats.

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