The Ancient City of Ephesus


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Middle East » Turkey » Aegean » Ephesus
July 17th 2013
Published: July 28th 2013
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Ephesus was going to be "my highlight" of the trip. I had heard so much about this ancient city that I was busting to get there to see what all the fuss was about. I had learnt that this city is where the bibical book of John had been written and the Virgin Mary was thought to have lived. The city itself is an amazing example of an advanced civilisation so many thousands of years ago.

Our trip started at 6am! (bearing in mind that our bodies were still 2 hours behind) this made for a VERY early start! Armed with oversized waterbottles, sunscreen and a wide brimmed hat, we were collected from the resort and after picking up numerous people from around Bitez, Gumbet and Bodrum were taken to a "meeting point" where our highlight trip slowly began to unwind. To cut a long story short, after waiting for about 1 hour we were finally asked to get out of the bus and relocate to another bus before sitting there for a further 30 minutes. We finally started to move, only to stop at another "meeting point" where more people came on board after about 15 minutes. Up until
Aqueduct Aqueduct Aqueduct

That used to help provide water to the City of Ephesus
this point we had heard nothing from our tour guide. Moving off again, we stopped at another place, where we waited for another 15 minutes, before a very irate lady and her family arrived and started to shout at our tour guide for a further 20 minutes (she had apparently been left behind) and was now refusing to get on the bus. Finally after some time (and the rest of the bus getting rather anxious) she got on the bus, having to sit separately with her son from her husband and other son. We moved off again....1 hour later we stopped at a place for breakfast, where we could purchase a traditional turkish breakfast for 10 TL - we did not, all we wanted to do is get to Ephesus (it was only a 2.5 hour drive from Bodrum!) After what seemed like an eternity at breakfast, we finally set off and our tour guide finally spoke trying to explain what we would be doing that day - not that it is his fault, but his English was not very good and I could not understand him. The only words I got were "important information..." which was repeated about six times, but unfortunate I still do not know what this "important information" was! Another hour into the journey and we stopped at a jewellery manufacturer! I did not sign up for this! at this point I'm getting a little past boiling point, we are supposedly meant to be at the jewellery place for 1 hour! Now don't get me wrong, I like to see other things in a new country and if this had been a village handcrafted jewellery maker I would have thought this was a nice bonus to the trip, however in this instance it was not....this was just another jewellery manufacturer like any other jeweller in a western country, way out of my price range and nothing to different from normal. Back on the bus again....30 mins later we finally see a ruin!

This first ruin was quite significant, as this was an aqueduct that directed the river, that used to flow, through pipes that supplied water to the city a few miles away. Moving on we FINALLY reached Ephesus and were told we had a mere TWO HOURS to see the city!!! I knew for a fact that this place needed a good day (which is what I thought I'd signed up to) but here we were at least, lets get a move on! In our wee group we were shifted into the shade and our guide spoke about the history of Ephesus and what we were about to see, this was repeated a few times - I was thinking I actually want to stop talking about what we are about to see and actually SEE the ruins!...my patience was wearing very thin by this point. We finally moved on...

We were told that the city had a population of 250,000 - this is calcuated by the fact the Grand Theatre in the city could seat 25,000, so they base the population on 10x this number. The city fell due to a series of earthquakes. It also used to have a harbour where trade would have been prevalent, but there is no sign of the sea now!

The State Agora is the first area that you come to when you enter the Magnesia Gate to Ephesus. This was the religious, social and political meetings were held. This area consists of a rectangular temple, Basilica, Varius Bath (complete with hot air pipes for underground
IXOYZIXOYZIXOYZ

IXOYEZ (can't do greek letters on keyboard) - Jesus Christ God's Son, Saviour - these symbols were etched into many of the stone around the city
heating!), The Prytaneion, Temple of Dea Roma and Julius Caesar, the Odeion and a monumental fountain.

White marble is easily found in the area, so many of the buildings in the City are made of this. The Odeion was an impressive looking structure, built around 150 AD and was used as a concert hall and council chamber. This seated approx 1400 spectators. We climbed around this and could see entering this the infrastructure that surrounded this - water/air pipes running beneath the structures displayed a civilisation well before it's time.

The Prytaneion was a tall structure behind where the basilica would have been and was a temple in which the "Eternal Flame" burned. This was where political issues were debated and religious ceremonies held. The Prytans were a distinguished class of people in the city who were in trusted with keeping the eternal flame burning day and night. Along from this were the remains of temples that were dedicated to Roman godesses and Julius Caesar. The Domitian Square and Pollio Fountain is also found adjacent to this. The Pollio Fountain has a huge arch above where water used to flow into a semi-circular pool.

Curetes Street is the main street leading from the State Agora down the hill towards the Celsus Library. It is paved with white marble, which make for very slippery walking! I did see a few go down! Lining the street is a row of marble columns and mosaic flooring on the side. Spaces between the columns were where statues of notable people stood - many taken for the Ephesus Museum in Europe.

The Trajan Fountain was built in 102-114 AD and is still in pretty good shape! The most interesting thing about this was the globe that sat at the feet of a statue of the Emperor Trajan. This is perfectly cylindrical and leads you to believe that they may have philosophised that the world was round, well before this was known science.

The Skolastikia Baths was a three story building which housed the roman baths. This was divided into to three areas the Apoditerium (where they disrobed), the Tepidarum (where hot air would be circulated from pipes - like a sauna) and the Caldarium ( where the slaves used to massage and wash their masters). After bathing they would all hang out and talk about political stuff, finishing off with a dip in the elipital pool which was full of cold water. It was amazing to see the remains of the pools - even a wee piece of mosaic from the original flooring of the baths.

The infamous Latrina were also attached to this area - dating back to 1st century AD - this was like the public toilet of the city! The stone commodes line the room and are connected to a very advanced sewage system below - as far as toilets go this was very impressive!

By this point we had been looking around mostly by ourselves, listening in on the group when we caught up. I was surprised to hear our tour guide say that the terraced houses were here, but you had to pay extra, which you can if you like, but really it's just more ruins with a fountain....err, no I had heard that these were a must see...so being my stubborn self we paid the extra 15TL to go inside to see these - I say inside as the site is completely covered by a semi-permanent structure to protect it. The houses were worth every extra penny! These were private houses owned
Pillars Pillars Pillars

These would have formed part of the State Agora Temple
by the wealthy and only uncovered in recent years. A channel system bought running water to the houses and some even had their own private well. Hot air pipes ran under the floor, providing underfloor and central heating! They have erected steal staircases surrounding the site so you can climb up the terrace and look down into the rooms. The lower floors were used for living, the upper floors were bedrooms (some had about 12 bedrooms!) Some of the rooms were expansive, metres high and with the remains of imported marble wall facades would have looked so impressive. Other rooms had painted frescoed walls with different illustrations giving a bit of a clue about the people that lived there or what the room was used for. For example one room had paintings of fish and a crab which led them to believe this was a small kitchen, others depicted scenes from plays where the room was used as a private theatre. As we climbed higher we came to some amazing examples of mosaics in rooms and hallways. We looked closely into one huge room and saw a carved marble table that had etchings in it of some sort of game that would have been played on it. So much amazing detail that really gave you an insight into how these people lived. The frescoed walls showed layers that had been painted over following earthquakes over 1st-4th century AD. I could have looked in there for hours, but we had limited time - so onto the Celsus Library!

This was the place that I had seen so many pictures of before coming to Ephesus and it is still so impressive in person. Being a library this was designed double walled to protect the important literature inside. Once again the marble columns and attention to detail was impressive, such an awesome building to see.

Rounding the corner after the Celsus Library I saw a huge structure up the hill - now THIS was an amphitheatre! It was huge...naive me had wondered how the managed to fit 25,000 people in the Odion which I thought was the main amphitheatre (this was big enough). But this was incredible. Vaughn walked up to the top and managed to somehow make a random friend from Nigeria....needing the exercise I hiked my way up there and what a view! Sadly following this it was our time to go back to the bus....

Ephesus was amazing, but I would always recommend making your own way there and either hiring a private tour guide or an audio guide to make the trip the highlight it should be.

Getting back on the bus our drama started again with the same lady who had ran us late in the start - we had all left our bags on the bus, everyone was happy in their seats. But this dutch woman had decided she needed to sit with her husband and so had moved someones things out of the way.....well all hell broke loose, put two european people with a language barrier, hot weather and tired legs together and apparently you nearly get an all out brawl. The women stood up over the women, yelling at the poor lady who just wanted her bag and so the lady pushed her down, then her husband stood up over her (I don't take kindly to men who try to intimidate) ....our tour guide....nothing....we honestly wasted another 10 minutes on the bus waiting for this to all calm down. We finally set off and stopped at a place for lunch....I had by this point decided group tours were not for me. I think I like the personal touch, not the slop all the food out on a steel tray and we all line up, pick what we can and try to eat it. It was not good. After spending 1 hour at this place twiddling our thumbs, while I could have still been at Ephesus we got back on the bus....no surprise, there was another 20 minute hold up with people having to change buses, our people having to get off and others on...this was really ruining my day now.

Finally we set off and 1 hour later stopped at a Turkish Delight store...well at least they had samples....which were very good.....we did not purchase anything as Vaughn "didn't want to encourage them"...so half an hour here and we were on the home stretch?? Nope, another stop at the place we had stopped for breakfast....I didn't get off the bus. The weather did get a bit interesting - we could see as we were coming into a valley dark, dark rain clouds (which is unheard of in July) and sure enough it started pouring down and hailing! being so dry things became quite flooded after about minutes.....the good thing about Turkish rain tho, is that it rains, gets it out of it's system and stops after about 20 minutes. But wow did it pour and blow - I think we might have even got down to 22 degrees!

Finally back in Bodrum we had one last annoying time, having to transfer to another bus....which bus no one knew, but we got there in the end....by this time it was 7.30pm I had been with these people for 13.5 hours! I had had enough! Loved Ephesus, hated the bus!

Getting back to Bitez I was cheered up a bit by one of the guys outside his restaurant who was always funny when trying to get you inside for dinner. Very dry humoured - when we told him we were going shopping first he said "ok, but don't spend all my money" and another time when we passed and he was with another customer, Vaughn glances at the menu board (which is the size of a large whiteboard) and so the guy says " you wan't to look at the menu?....I give it to you (we keep walking) ....see look you can have it (as he literally runs down the path behind us carrying the massive menu in front of him) this made me laugh, so we went back for what ended up being a really nice dinner!

On return to the resort, we were again treated to an amazing display starring a python and iguana! Yes I held a snake again and kissed iguana....yet again, not on film (unfortunately) but it was an experience!


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Caduceus sign of medicine Caduceus sign of medicine
Caduceus sign of medicine

Outside the location of what was believed to be the medical centre


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