The Ancient City of Ephesus

Much like Gallipoli, the Ottoman Empire and Turkey in general, I was a little uneducated in the history of this wonderful little country. While I know I should have probably done a little bit more research than just looking at pictures on Google, the entire trip has been full of little surprises and facts that I can keep for a little bit of trivia. For example, the ancient city of Ephesus – famous for one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World, the Temple of Artemis – has a beer named after it. Efes, which is the Turkish translation for Ephesus, is the most popular brand of beer in Turkey.

We had a bit of a sleep in before being picked up for our Ephesus tour. As the ancient city is just 3km away, we didn’t have to leave until 9:30am, however K and I still managed to run late anyway. On the way, our tour guide gave us some basic information about Ephesus before taking us to our first stop, the House of Virgin Mary. This was believed to be the last home of Mary, the Mother of Jesus.

Our next stop was the main centre of Ephesus and what we had all come for. Ephesus was built in the 10th century BC and was ruled by the Romans in 129BC. Due to this, the city has a distinct Roman feel. Even from the ruins left today, you can see how the wealthy lived hundreds and hundreds of years ago. We started at the Magnesia Gate which would take us down hill through the ruins. Our first main sight was Odeion, an indoor theatre which seats about 1500 people. Having seen a few photos of Ephesus and the large theatre, I was little disappointed, thinking this was it and how underwhelming it was. However I was to be totally proven wrong as we went further into the ruins..

Odeion, the indoor theatre that seats 1500 people
Odeion, the indoor theatre that seats 1500 people

We continued down past the Basilica and the façade of the Temple of Hadrian, as well as the believed site of a brothel, which was very popular back in those days. Walking past the Terrace Houses, it was hard to believe how well the buildings had been preserved, as well as how lavishly the Ephesians lived.

The statue of the Goddess Nike , who personifies victory. Also the inspiration for the sportswear brand Nike. 
Perfectly preserved ruins
Perfectly preserved ruins

As we walked further down, we reached the Library of Celsus, my favourite. The grand two storey façade is in almost perfect condition and stands importantly at the foot of the hill. The Library was built by his son as a monument and grave for Ephesus governor Celsus, after he died in 106 AD. Beside the Library is the Market Agora, which then leads to Marble Avenue, which takes you to the Great Theatre.

The beautiful Library of Celsus
The beautiful Library of Celsus
Walking down to the Library
Walking down to the Library

Now, the Ephesians weren’t kidding, in fact calling in the Great Theatre is putting it mildly. This HUGE theatre is what we had been seeing in the photos, and it is about five times the size of the Odeion, the first indoor theatre we saw at the start. With the seating capacity of about 24,000 people, the Great Theatre was initially used for drama productions but as the Romans took over, was used for gladiatorial combats. We entered at the stage of the theatre and were swallowed up by the mere size of the theatre. Pretending we were rock stars, K and I did some impromptu dancing for our pretend audience before hightailing to some shady trees to catch our breath.

The Great Theatre
The Great Theatre
The grandness of the Great Theatre from the shade of the pine trees about 100 metres away
The grandness of the Great Theatre from the shade of the pine trees about 100 metres away

We met up with the rest of our tour guide and were taken to lunch before visiting the Temple of Artemis. Now I’m no history buff so excuse my ignorance here, but the site of the ruins was downright disappointing. Of course I wasn’t expecting the Temple to be sitting there in perfect form, but the swampy, rubbish filled area, with a lone column as the remainder of the Temple, was a little underwhelming. Nonetheless, it was one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World and with the help of the picture book one of the hawkers showed me, it was possible to picture what once was there. We didn’t stay too long there, partially because there wasn’t much to see and partially because we were utterly drained by the heat.

We were dropped off to our hostel and had a quick rest before catching the Dolmus bus down to Pamucak Beach. Before this though, we indulged in some baklava and ice-cream which pretty much turned my cranky, sweaty mood right around. If you do stay at Boomerang Hostel, definitely order this (especially with caramel ice-cream, droooool)

Best dessert ever! Baklava and caramel ice-cream :)
Best dessert ever! Baklava and caramel ice-cream 🙂

Just a 10 minute bus ride away, K and I were dropped off and we dove into the water, letting coolness sweep over us. Washing away the dirt from the ancient city we floated in the water, soothing our walked out feet and history overloaded heads. It was a wonderful way to finish the afternoon.

A local travel agent named Albie had told us we had to visit this restaurant which served the best gozleme in Turkey. Not one’s to shy away from food, K and I took up his offer to take us out to dinner. Askerin Yeri was a local secret right near Ephesus, which was a big open plan restaurant decorated with large pillows to seat on and brightly coloured lanterns. We shared several different types of gozleme, all absolutely delicious. Especially the sweet one, that had filling that tasted like peanut butter! It was a nice finishing touch to our time here in Selçuk.

Our next stop is Bodrum for some real holiday time by the beach!

J. x

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