Friday, August 31, 2012


A flight in Izmir and a transfer drive to Selcuk was quick and easy. The hotel, Kalehan, is a family style place built almost courtyard style around a pool and garden, so green and cooling after the heat outside. The rooms and the hotel itself are decorated in Turkish eclectic and are small, but the staff can’t do enough for you.

ephesus, wing of Kalehan

Our room middle left

halehan dining room
The eclectically decorated dining room

Selcuk, at about 20,000 inhabitants, still has the air of a farming town; trailers full of watermelons for sale, many men in the “men only” cafes playing a sort of matching tile game, called, I think, OK, drinking tea or coffee and waiting for the time to work in the fields.


Selcuk, men at work N
The men of the town solve the world’s problems
Selcuk, stork nest N
The storks’ nest. Vacated the day before when they all flew to Morocco.

Eateries tend to be a few tables and a window in a wall selling kebabs, pide or similar. I am enjoying the fresh salad parts but find we don’t really much like the food. A bit like Greece really; many long stewed vegetable dishes and casserole type things, some grilled meats on or off skewers, rice, meatballs and so on. And so MUCH food on a set menu, at least 4 courses.

Our trip to Ephesus, which is close to town, was interesting but terribly crowded. Ali, our guide, only 6 months out from his 5 year stint at university to gain guide status, was happy to recite lots of facts and help extend our knowledge of the site. I think perhaps he will develop more of an easy style as time goes on, but he was cheerful and willing and certainly more immediate and informative than a guide book.


Ali, our cheerful guide
Ephesus, fake watches N
Probably the most photographed sign
at Ephesus
Ephesus, The crowds on the colonnaded way
An idea of the crowds

Ephesus was an important Roman port city with temples, including a rather lovely Temple of Hadrian, a massive theatre where they actually had gladiator and wild animal fights (unusual for a theatre) a very large library built by a son in memory of his father, paved marble ways, communal male toilets, agoras, shops and the works. Plus the nearby Temple of Artemis, now marked by one badly reconstructed column, which was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and must indeed have been a marvellous sight as the sailors came into the port.

Ephesus, Odeon and the way in
The odeon to the right at the entrance to Ephesus
Ephesus, communal toilets
The communal male loo, good for a chat as you sat butt to butt
Ephesus, medusa on Temple of hadrian N
Possibly the only Medusa where the body was shown as well. She was protective, like an evil eye amulet. Here on the Fountain of Hadrian
Ephesus, Nike
The Nike, or goddess of victory. The famous swoosh is under her right hand.
Ephesus theatre
The theatre. Note the height of the front wall to stop the animals getting to the audience

Ephesus, theatre seats
The stairs and seats
library of Cestus

Library of Celsus, reconstructed facade

The Terrace Houses are 7 rich Roman houses under excavation. While we could have seen them, and would have loved to, the climb to reach them and the temperature of the day precluded that, so I think we missed the best.

In time, the river silted up the site, the harbour receded and is now 5km away, the marshes bred mosquitoes and therefore fevers and much of the site was abandoned, the material was stolen and used in other constructions, even in Agia Sophia in Istanbul and all that was left was ruin. So what is seen now is mostly reconstruction and it looks that way. And it is on the itinerary of every ship that docks at nearby Kusadasi so it is impossibly crowded.

Ephesus, temple of Artemis

All that is left of the temple

Later we visited the local museum which has some of the beautiful artworks found, including the many breasted Artemis and a room devoted to pieces about Eros. Small glass objects found intact in some of the houses indicated the delicacy of decoration. Very peaceful and giving maybe more of a feel of the ancient city than the ruins themselves.


ephesus museum, Asclepius N
Asclepius and the snake
Ephesus museum, warrior face
An exhaused warrior
ephesus museum, winged lion
Winged lion (minus the wings)
ephesus museum, eros and anteros N

Eros and Anteros

 ephesus museum head of Eros

Head of Eros

 ephesus museum, glass

Delicate glass container


ephesus museum, ArtemisThe amazing and rather alarming statue of Artemis

The nearby Basilica of St John has his supposed grave though there is little evidence to support this. Maybe the presence of a quite large treasury and the size of the building itself lend credence to it being a very important site for Christianity. From the area surrounding the Basilica we could see the beautiful old mosque, reputed to be the first in Turkey and with a peaceful garden courtyard which was supposed to influence the Blue Mosque, 300 years later. The mosque was simple and quiet. It is still in use today.

ephesus entry to St John's basilica
Entry to the basilica of St John
Ephesus, grave of St John
The suppose site of John’s grave
ephesus, mosque, N
The Ali Bey mosque from above
Ephesus, mosque N

The mirhab

ephsus, mosque fountain N

Peaceful garden and fountain

ephesus, ali bey mosque

Ali Bey Mosque

And as John was thought to be looking after Mary, there is a story that she lived and died here, a small house near a spring being dreamt of by a German nun in about 1800 and later discovered in the mountains. I am afraid it did less for me spiritually than Mary’s house at Loreto in Italy, but some were obviously moved to prayer.

Overall, while it is a huge site and only partially explored and excavated, I did not find that it excited or moved me as other places such as Mycenae have done. Nick liked it better, I think, but hated the crowds.

But more tomorrow; this time Pergamon.

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