Ephesus, Turkey

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July 14th 2014
Published: July 14th 2014
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View Over The Old Gymnasium Site To The TheaterView Over The Old Gymnasium Site To The TheaterView Over The Old Gymnasium Site To The Theater

The remains of a Roman bath are under the stones and are accessible through brick-arched doors below. Bring a flashlight and explore.
There were stones piled everywhere. Lengths of columns. building blocks, sections of red-brick arches. Some marked with nomenclature numbers while others had no identifiers at all. Weeds grew between the stones as if they hadn't been moved in a while. We were in Ephesus which is a premier destination for folks visiting Turkey though not many people will spend a night here. Most visitors arrive via tour bus from Izmir and most of these are cruise ship passengers taking a day trip.

Ephesus was one of ancient Rome's greatest Asian cities. A fine natural harbor and the commerce it invited supported a population that, at one time, reached between 35,000 and 50,000 residents. Founded by the Greeks around 1,000 BC it didn't reach its zenith until the Romans arrived about 150 BC. After the harbor silted up the city was abandoned during the 15th-Century and a small community of perhaps twenty households remained. It wasn't until archaeologists rediscovered the site in the 19th-century that things started hopping again. Today the site supports a small town with an airport and various tourist-oriented shops.

Our couchsurfing host; Hasan, lent us the use of his car and driver for the day. We
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Visible along one of the city streets.
drove 80-Km south along the coast. High mountain ridges were dotted with the remains of old Ottoman forts. The parking area for Ephesus is surprisingly small. The place opens at 9 AM. We got there at 9:15 and we were two of perhaps a hundred visitors there. Entry price is $15 US per person. A small gauntlet of souvenir shops and guides touting their services are the only things you'll encounter at the entrance. The area which is open to visitors is essentially what used to be the Roman city center. The big draw is the theater which is said to have seated 25,000 people. It is rumored that St. Paul preached at the theater during his two-year residency in the city. Across from the theater is the reconstructed facade of the library built by Gaius Julius Aquila as a tomb for his father who is buried beneath the structure. The gymnasiums and Roman baths, of which there were four, have not been restored. In fact; Most of what you will see in Ephesus are reconstructions and not restorations. Columns and facades have been rebuilt using whatever bits and pieces of masonry the current builders can find laying around. New
Smartest Person In EphesusSmartest Person In EphesusSmartest Person In Ephesus

Get there early because the heat builds up pretty fast as do the crowds.
pieces of stone are being cut and carved to match the existing 'look'. The place is more movie-set than reality.

Pompeii in Italy and Akrotiri in Santorini, Greece had the fortune, or misfortune, of being completely buried under a thick layer of volcanic ash. As a result; Their structures have been completely preserved. In Akrotiri you can see loaves of bread resting on dinner plates; Abandoned by diners when the volcano erupted in 1,627 BC. Water urns sit on village streets and three-story buildings look exactly as they did on that fateful day. Childrens' toys sit mournfully on kitchen floors waiting for small hands that will never return. Ephesus, unlike the others, was subjected to centuries of wind and rain and demolition at the hands of locals using the ancient structures for building materials. What you see today is not what it was but what it has been made to be. A jumble of parts put together like interchangeable Lego building blocks. The column-lined boulevards you'll walk along never appeared that way during Roman times but they make for fine photographs today.

The best preserved ruins are what are known as the 'terrace houses'. Fresco-ed walls, mosaic floors
Street To Old PortStreet To Old PortStreet To Old Port

The columns lining the street are a fiction. Placed there by workers who collected them from around the ruins.
and all of it entirely enclosed and gated. It will set you back an additional $15 US to see them.

We covered the place in two-hours. Modern scholars agree that even at its peak the city never exceeded 550-acres in size including the streets and common areas. The must sees include the theater, the library and Hadrian's tomb. Cleopatra's younger sister was entombed in Ephesus after her murder there but her sarcophagus is gone. A simple sign marks the spot. Too bad. That would have been interesting.

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