KUSADASI, TURKEY (OUR BASE FOR EPHESUS)--Wednesday, May 8, 2013


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Middle East » Turkey » Aegean » Ephesus
May 8th 2013
Published: June 24th 2013
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Hotel Onder, Kusadsi

Picked up the wake up phone call to hear the chimes of “It’s a Small World” playing in my ear. Breakfast buffet was eaten outside on the patio and I had muesli with yogurt and fruit on top and Valerie had eggs. Our bus left to drive the 30 km back to Ephesus at 8:00 am this morning.

Ephesus

I am not going to go in detail into the long 1000-year history of this city that was first built in 10 BC by the Greeks, then conquered and rebuilt by the Romans, and then taken by the Ottomans in 1390. It was built/rebuilt 4 times in various places around on several separate hills and in the valley. Each site is labeled by Roman numbers and we toured Ephesus II, which is one of the largest Roman ruins in the eastern Mediterranean area. Several sites via Google offer panoramic views of these ruins.

Ephesus was a center of travel and commerce as it was situated on at the mouth of the Cayster River that emptied into the Aegean Sea portion of the Mediterranean. The city with an estimated 250,000 inhabitants in the first century BC was one of the greatest seaports of the ancient world until the river silted up the port becoming a malaria infested swamp that caused the city to be moved from the valley to the hills and then to higher hills.

Ephesus was also an important center for early Christianity from the 50 AD. The Apostle Paul lived here, wrote here, and worked with the congregation as well as organized missionary activity. He was imprisoned here before being taken to Rome and writing the Epistle to Ephesians there. The Apostle John also lived, died, and was buried here and the Gospel of John might have been written while he was in this city. Ephesus was one of the 7 cities cited in Revelations which also attests to the strength of the Christian community. Our guide pointed out early secret Christian fish symbols etched into marble and showed us where some early crosses could be seen like the Maltese Cross or St. John’s Cross.

We walked through and saw the ruins of government buildings, temples, baths, privies (a 24-holer), a 25,000 seat theater, shops, fountains, homes, a brothel, and a huge library. In several places they have tried to reconstruct parts of some of the buildings, but reconstruction is hampered by funding and the fact that subsequent builders often used blocks of granite and carvings from ruins of earlier buildings. Many of the ruins have been labeled with information in 3 languages, photos of early excavations, and a plan showing the layout of the original building.

Valerie has tried through her photos to capture some of the essence of Ephesus. She hopes that she has labeled them correctly. If you want to know more about one of the buildings, a Google search using the building title will provide significantly more information.

As we wended our way from the higher or government part to the lower or commercial/residential part, we stopped at several different places where our guide provided information that wasn’t on the signs. For example, he told us there was a tunnel under the street from the library to the brothel so that patrons could visit the brothel without being seen entering. And the first known advertisement was located on the city wall from the port giving directions to that same brothel aimed at the arriving sailors. He also told us that parchment was invented here for the Ephesus library because the Egyptians wanted Alexandria to have the biggest library, and placed an embargo on the export of papyrus paper.

As we exited this city, walking up through a long aisle of trees and the ever present souvenir vendors, there were at least 40 buses parked in the parking lot waiting for groups of tourists to return to them. We all boarded our bus, were counted, and headed to the Temple of Artemis (completed around 550 BC), one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It was destroyed in 401 AD by a mob and all that is left now are several re-constructed columns in back of a pond. Some had stork nests on top.

Temple of Artemis and Ayasoluk Hill

In the pond to the left, were geese with several goslings and I thought I saw a bird, of some sort, sitting out on a rock. When we got the picture up on the computer to ID the bird, we discovered it was a turtle sunning himself. We did see a small flock of what I believe to be warblers of some sort, as they were that size and black and white with yellow necks. The mulberry trees around had white fruit on them instead of the purple we have in the States.

From the parking lot by Artemis Temple at the base of Ayasoluk Hill we could see four major archaeological sites representing different periods of history. There was the ancient temple in front (I think this is Ephesus I), the 6th century Basilica of St. John the Apostle to the upper right (supposedly the site of the Apostle's tomb), the Ayasuluk Castle or citadel first built in the 6th century dominating the modern town of Selçuk, and the İsa Bey Mosque built by the Aydinoglu Turks in 1375 in back to the left.

Lunch

Lunch was a real treat of homemade Turkish food served by friends of our guide at a local restaurant that they operate near the Temple. It was very fresh and had a large selection. Many of the vegetables and herbs had been grown by them.

Virgin Mary's Home

Next, we visited a house that is believed, based on a vision of a nun, to be the place where the Virgin Mary lived after Jesus died. The guide stated that according to the Bible, Jesus asked John (who was the youngest apostle) to look after his mother and since St. John lived in Ephesus in “Asia” during the later years of his life, it would be logical that she went with him. “Mary’s” house is in the wooded mountains above Ephesus and is now a shrine visited by Roman Catholics and other tourists, and has been visited by three recent popes. It is a pretty setting and along with the 2-room restored house and a cistern. If you look at the photo, you will see a red line about a foot from the ground; it marks the original foundation. There is a feeling of serenity as you walk in the gardens near the house, and below it is a rock wall that pilgrims leave written messages for things they wish for.

Back in Kusadasi

We returned to the hotel by 3:00 and rested for the rest of the day. Dinner was on our own, and since we had eaten a BIG lunch, we had cheese and crackers in our room and then called it an early night.


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