Crete Pilgrimage 2016 - Day 15

Turkey - Ephesus


We woke up in our new hotel in Kusadasi in the west of Turkey, and south of Istanbul. The hotel was on the coast but it was dark when we arrived so we had not seen the view... wow!

After a wonderful breakfast we were met by our new guide and headed off to Ephesus. Ephesus is an ancient Roman city, once a thriving port but now in ruins. A series of earthquakes and the silting up of the port forced the Romans to move elsewhere. We spent most of the day in this area, taking in the ancient history, and find out what had happened to one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World - the Temple of Artemis.

Our hotel in Kusadasi
The view from our window
The local port
Profusion of apartment blocks.

Ephesus - House of the Virgin Mary

Our first stop was for the House of the Virgin Mary. Nobody really believes that Mary lived here in her later years, but it makes a good story, attracts the tourists, and for many believers it is a case of hedging you bets - maybe she did live here so visiting cannot do any harm and just might do us good.

Security was everywhere
Olive trees line the entrance.
Entrance to the house.
Interesting brickwork
Crowds waiting at the door
The side of the house with the exit door
And the obligatory candles
Three famous springs near the house
Message board for those needing luck
The usual souvenir shops...
Yes, they do sell genuine fakes - I asked the salesman!

The Ancient City of Ephesus

Ephesus was an ancient Greek city on the coast of Ionia, now Turkey, It was built in the 10th century BC on the site of the former Arzawan capital and Ionian Greek colonists. The city flourished after it came under the control of the Roman Republic in 129 BC.The city was famed for the nearby Temple of Artemis (completed around 550 BC), one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Among many other monumental buildings are the Library of Celsus, and a theatre capable of holding 25,000 spectators. The city was destroyed by the Goths in 263, and although rebuilt, the city's importance as a commercial centre declined as the harbour was slowly silted up. It was partially destroyed by an earthquake in 614 AD.

Ephesus is built on a hillside, with the main street sloping down towards the old harbour. Although not steep, it is better to start at the top and walk down, especially in the heat. We were dropped at the top entrance and made our way, with the guide downhill to the main entrance at the bottom. It was a warm day and fortunately there were not many tourists. I would try to avoid the place when crowded, especially when one of the large cruise ships has disgorged hundreds of tourists into the site.

Ephesus is still in the process of being escavated and put back together. For some obscure reason a lot of the work is being funded from Austria and this has put an interesting slant on some of the reconstructions. But it is still a wonderful place to visit and you can get a real sense of what it would have been like to live there in Roman times.

Arriving at the top level there are plenty of columns lying around
Also plenty of clay pipes for water reticulation
Some of the columns had been put back togther - not always correstly.
The columns were held together with lead, melted and poured into these grooves.
Most of the columns were of marble, but some were granite
The roadway was very rough and the stones very smooth.
Some of the slabs had been grooved to reduce the slip
Others had been roughened up.
The walls were amazing, straight and true
The Austrian influence - art made from random fragments
This guy clearly owned the place
Looking down the main street towards the Library
The remains of the Library of Celsus
A water feature with fountains
Part of the extensive mozaic pathway that ran behind the columns and in front of the shops and houses
Area of current excavation
Wear on the marble steps - probably Roman but could be more modern feet
Left-hand thread...
Right-hand thread
Communal latrines
Him again...?
Plenty of selfie sticks around
Entrance to the Library of Celsus
And the view looking outwards
Follow the cobblestone road
With its underground stormwater drains
In the amphitheatre
The road to the original port
Looking back to the Amphitheatre
Map of Ephesus
The most important of the souvenir shops - Efes (Turkish for Ephesus) is also the local beer!

Temple of St John the Baptist and the Temple of Artemis

Not far from Ephesus is the hill on which was built the Temple of St John the Baptist. This one of the earliest Christian monuments in the area. It was built in a hurry and at minimal cost. To do so the builders raided nearly ruins, mostly the Temple of Artemis. That Temple, one of the Seven Wonders of the World was almost obliterated but much of its finery can be found at the Temple for St John.

The pathway up to the Temple
Example of the walls built from material salvaged from elsewhere
All these columns are thought to come from the Temple of Artemis
Examples of earlier works
The Treasury, where the valuables were kept
The Baptistry, where you enter, get wet and...
exit the other side into the Temple
More of the columns
Looking down on the entrance/exit
The site of the Temple of Artemis
Only this column remains
The top is now a nest for a family of storks
Below the Temple is an ancient Mosque
The remains of the domes
Looking towards Ephesus

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Last updated: 25/03/2017