Roaming Ephesus, Turkey – 18th May 2015

Ephesus, the second most visited tourist attraction in all of Turkey, second only to the city of Istanbul. Turkeys average but most popular beer also attributed its name from this ancient site “Efes”.

Ephesus was as an ancient Greek city on the south western coast of Turkey – in the Izmir Province, only 3kms away from Selcuk. It was built in the 10th century BC. The city flourished after it came under the control of the Romans in 129 BC. Ephesus supposedly had a population of 33,600 to 56,000 people in the Roman period, making it the third largest city of Roman Asia Minor.

The city was famous for the Ancient Library, Roman Amphitheatre and the Temple of Artemis, one of three maiden goddesses of Olympus. Artemis was the daughter of Zeus and Leto. She was the goddess of the moon, and the goddess of the hunt. She was also the twin sister of Apollo.

Image of how the Temple of Artemis would have looked in its prime.
Image of how the Temple of Artemis would have looked in its prime.
Artemis statue
Artemis statue

Built in completion around 550 BC one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The City was plagued with invaders and earthquakes. The Goths in 268 AD damaged the temple of Artemis and Emperor Constantine the Great rebuilt most of the city and new public baths. The town was partially destroyed again by an earthquake in 614 AD. The importance of the city declined as the harbor was slowly silted up by the Küçükmenderes River.

Ephesus was one of the seven churches of Asia that is mentioned in the Book of Revelations. The Gospel of John is rumoured to have been written here. It is also the site of a large gladiators graveyard.

Steve and I pitched his cosy two man tent for a couple of nights at the quaint little camping ground “Dereli Camping” in Pamucak – only 10 minutes away from Ephesus, and right on a beautiful beach!

Staying in camp grounds in this area is by far the most cost effective. When we first arrived the Turkish lady on reception tired to say it would cost 30TL per person, per night. Awwww hell no lady! That is AUD$45 per night each! For a tent sight? No way hosay! Lucky for us I love to haggle, I get a kick out of it, whether I’m bargaining for a room, a tent site or an ice block. In the end I managed to get her down to 15TL per person, per night on the condition of swearing me to secrecy from other campers, should they ask.

Holding space at Dereli Camping - Pamucak!
Holding space at Dereli Camping – Pamucak

Pamucak Beach

So wrapping our hats on tight, and already fanning our faces at 7am in the morning, we were promised a scorcher of a day. Handing the dolmus driver a couple of Turkish Lira for his troubles, we realise he has dropped us at the lower end of the site. Resulting in having to walk up the incline instead of the normal tourist starting at the top of the hill and making our way down. Not to worry, we tell ourselves, we will enjoy getting our sweat on walking up the inclined ancient city.

We grabbed a fresh orange juice from one of the abundant Turkish salesmen who set up shop here, and attempt to charge tourists for photos with camels. It was nice to see they had shade and water though.

1E for a photo!
1E for a photo!

The first site when entering from the southern end is the enormous roman amphitheatre that can seat 25,000 people. It is the largest in all of Anatolia, and as we drew nearer we realised just how magnificent it really was. Containing sixty six rows of seats, divided by two walkways between seats, into three horizontal sections. The seats with backs are made of marble and were reserved for important people. The audience used entered from the upper cavea.

Amphitheatre Ephesus - capacity of 25,000 people.
Amphitheatre Ephesus – capacity of 25,000 people.

The Arcadian street leading into the city from the once raging Küçükmenderes River is remarkable. Completely constructed of marble in the Hellenistic Period, it stretches 530 meters long and 11 meters wide, and on both sides of the street there were shops and stalls. Because this was the entrance to the city by traders and sailors it was created especially beautiful. This was one of three of the only streets of its time to be lit up at night and contained sewerage running underneath the marble slabs.

Arcadian Street
Arcadian Street
Steve and Arcadian Street
Steve and Arcadian Street

There are many impressive streets at Ephesus but I will only mention the above so as to keep this post from becoming too long.

The Library of Celsus is what everyone comes to see with their own eyes. It is without a doubt the most impressive “ruin” I have seen to date. It was built it 117AD as a gigantic tomb for Galius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus, the governor of Asia. The grave was underneath the ground floor, with a statue of Athena watching over – the goddess of wisdom and daughter of Zeus,

“The capacity of the library was more than 12,000 scrolls. It was the third richest library in ancient times after the Alexandra and Pergamum. The scrolls of the manuscripts were kept in cupboards in niches on the walls. There were double walls behind the bookcases to prevent the them from the extremes of temperature and humidity.

The statues in the niches of the columns today are the copies of the originals. The statues symbolize wisdom (Sophia), knowledge (Episteme), intelligence (Ennoia) and valor (Arete). These are the virtues of Celsus. The library was restored with the aid of the Austrian Archaeological Institute and  the originals of the statues were taken to Ephesus Museum in Vienna in 1910.”

(As quoted from http://www.ephesus.us/ephesus/celsuslibrary.htm)

What I wouldn’t give to have even a glimpse of what those scrolls contained!

Celsus Library
Celsus Library
Celsus Library
Celsus Library
Statues in the library walls
Statues in the library walls
The size of this library!
The size of this library!

The last spot at this ancient wonderland I will mention are The Terrace Houses. These houses were exclusively for the wealthy and right across the road from the communal baths. They expected us to pay an extra 15TL to enter these enclosed terraces, which we were not prepared to do after already paying for the entrance ticket, so we snuck in. I know, I know, I’m a terrible person but there is a fine line between being ripped off and paying a fair price. Also who leaves the side doors open? Seemed like a beckoning invitation to us and this wasn’t our first rodeo. 😉

Besides having to hide our wrists that were void of colourful armbands – we were all gravy! There were 6 units – the oldest dating back to the 1st Century BC and continued to be used until the 7th Century AD. The mosaics are the reason everyone wants to take a squiz. They are pretty awesome, but to my amazement there was even a mosaic of my favourite Sacred Geometry pattern “The Flower of Life.” Awesome!

Terrace houses
Terrace houses
Terrace House Mosaics
Terrace House Mosaics
Terrace Houses
Terrace Houses
Flower of life!
Flower of life!
Poseidon and unknown female goddess
Poseidon and Athena

I hope my roamies enjoyed this post, and put Ephesus on their buckets lists. There is plenty more to see it’s totally worth the roam!

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