Thursday, April 25, 2013

Ancient Epheseus

Back on the road we travelled across wide valleys with mountains on either side of us. Still all the land was farmed with the cereal crops, vines, olives and market gardening. Beautiful blood-red poppies lined the road. After what seemed liked endless driving we finally reached Epheseus, one of the greatest ruined cities in the western world. A Greek city was built here in about 1000 BC. The city that we saw was founded by Alexander the Great's successor, Lysimachus. Under the Romans Epheseus became the chief port of the Aegean until it silted up. It is an important site in Christianity as it is said that the Virgin Mary spent her last days nearby and that St. John the Evangelist came from Patmos to look after her. Both Christians and Muslims come to visit the shrine, her old stone house.

There are many spectacular sights at Epheseus, such as the huge Greco-Roman theatre carved into Mt. Pion. Hadrian's visit to the area in AD 123 was commemorated by a marble temple with a facade depicting mythical gods and goddesses. Restored murals in the houses opposite Hadrian's temple indicated how wealthy the owners were.

I really liked the Insciptorium, a storage area for thousands of inscribed stone blocks. While many were grave memorials, others were legal pronouncements, such as one declaring that "sacrilegiousness is punishable by death." There were many of these stones on display. It certainly gives new meaning to "take a letter." 

There were many well preserved statues to be admired but the highlight of the trip to Epheseus was,the magnificent Library of Celsus built by Consul Gaius Aquila for his father. The two-story library is truly magnificent. The two-kilometre walk through Epheseus is certainly fascinating and worth another visit.

Back on the road again we stopped at a leather factory to drink the obligatory tea and watch a very high-end leather fashion show with wonderful colourful, very stylish jackets. At the end we were invited in to the showroom to try on the jackets. The leather was very soft but with the cheapest jacket selling for about 600€ it was too rich for us. We were very glad to escape outside without undergoing a hard sell. There were a few people who made the mistake of actually trying on the jackets. They had very relieved looks on their faces when they managed to escape outside. Undaunted some of the sales people followed them with new jackets to try on.

Our long day ended in Kusadasi, a port city with Genoese origins. After dinner we decided to go for a walk down a long, winding, steep hill to the port. It was lovely to look out on the water after days of being inland. Late at night many of the shops were still open on the pedestrian streets. We finally decided that we had done enough walking for the day and, unwilling to tackle the hill, we took a cab back to the hotel.

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