We got up early on our Saturday in Selcuk, though both the Missus and I had enjoyed our time in Selcuk, we were here for one main reason; to visit Ephesus. We had an early breakfast, as with most of these places, breakfast is provided free. In comparison to other places this was just ok. Everything had been plated out ahead of time.
All the usual suspects were in attendance, the cheese, butter, tomato, cucumber, olives, honey....
And of course, bread...... lots of bread....
The best thing about the breakfast was the tea. Hotel Bella made a nice, fairly strong cup of Turkish Tea.....full bodied with a hint of Bergamot.
Breakfast did us good, in spite of the fact that the hotel provided free drop off and pick-up from Ephesus, we'd be walking the 5-6 kilometers to Ephesus.
We arrived at the upper entrance in a little over an hour, just after opening, and just before all the tour buses from the cruise ships ported at Kusadasi arrived. By not heading to the main gates, we'd be able to check out some of the major attractions before they too crowded. We also decided to spend a few more lira and do the audio tour, which turned out to be really informative.
It is believed that the city of Ephesus was founded somewhere around 10th century BC. Located at the crossing of major trade routes and being a major harbor town, Ephesus was once the second largest city in the Roman Empire, with a population estimated at 250,000.
Upon entering we walked down a short side path to the Church of Mary (above photo). Rebuilt and altered several times it is thought to have been built over and earlier Basilica.
Walking past the ruins of the gymnasium......
One sees the first of several amazing structures at Ephesus. The Great Theatre.
Dramatically located on the slopes of Panayir Hill, the theatre seated 25,000 and the seating is designed for maximum acoustics and view.
The theatre was also the scene of a well known biblical event. For three years the Apostle Paul lived in Ephesus, preaching the gospel. According to the book of Acts, Paul must have been pretty successful, as the silversmiths who made their living selling idols of Artemis (Diana) had started losing business and started a riot against Paul and the spreading of Christianity. You can read it here.
Stepping out of the theatre, I got a good look at Harbour Street, At 500 meters long and 11 meters wide, this was once the grandest street in Ephesus.... and probably still is.
Walking to the end of the restored area of the street, the obvious question you'd ask yourself is, "where's the harbor?"
Ephesus had become a power because of location. Besides being at the crossroads of trade, it was also located at the mouth of the Kayster River, right where it met the Aegean. In the end, it wasn't Christianity nor the Ottoman Empire that doomed Ephesus, it was the unconquerable build up of silt. Today, the last harbour of Ephesus sits over 6 miles from the river.
The beautiful marble paved "Sacred Way" goes South from the theatre. There are spots where you can see the sewer and water systems that lay beneath these streets. There are grooves in the marble which were created by carts and wagons......
Which probably made its way to the Agora which you can view from the street. This was probably the busiest street in Ephesus.
To the left of the Agora are the Gates of Augustus......
Which led to my favorite site, and possibly my favorite site on the entire trip (including the Parthenon), the Library of Celsus.
The Library of Celsus was built by Julius Celsus Polemaeanus by his son Gaius Julius Aquila. The library was built with double walls to protect the 12,000 scrolls and book from heat and humdity. The four statues in the niches in the walls of the library represent wisdom (Sophia), knowledge (Episteme), intelligence (Ennoia) and valor (Arete). That's Sophia to the right.
I had a bit of a difficult time tearing myself away from the Library of Celsus, but it was starting to get crowded.....
The street leading away from the library is called Curetes Way. Apparently it was a business and "high-rent" district of Ephesus.
Off one of the side trails along the road is what is one of the most popular sites in Ephesus.... the communal Roman Men's toilets. Yes, there were lines of folks waiting to check out the toilets. And most could not help but to "try them out for size." Says a lot about us, doesn't it?
You can see where the residents lived, walk past some wonderful monuments, and see the shopping areas on the street.
There are some beautiful mosaics alongside the street.
Along one of the side streets is the Temple of Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian. Remember the huge head and arm from the Ephesus Museum? This is where it came from.
There was just so much to see, and I'm heaing into over 850 words right now, so let me just put up a few more photos, ok?
Before we knew it, we had spent almost four hours at Ephesus. It was also pretty darn hot. When we exited the Missus asked audio tour booth folks if they could call the hotel (you gotta love Turkey) which they gladly did. About fifteen minutes later we were on our way back to the hotel.
I realize that there wasn't much food in this one, so thanks for reading!
Getting to the town of Selcuk from Izmir was an absolute slam dunk..... into the kiddie baskets (though at my age, that ain't exactly a sure thing anymore). You land at the airport in Izmir (Selcuk doesn't have an airport) and walk to the train station, which is attached to the airport and catch the train (4TRY - about $2.50 per person), which takes about an hour. Finding our hotel was even easier. For some reason I got off the train and proceeded to walk North past the gentlemen who spend their day having tea, smoking, and playing backgammon. Up the cobblestone street, and lo' and behold, there was Hotel Bella! Just halfway up the hill.
The hotel is quaint and colorfully decorated with paintings, rugs, and pictures that would usually seem gaudy. But here it works. After a short wait, we were led up the staircase (like many of the smaller hotels in Turkey, there's no lift) to the roof terrace........ this clinched it. We really loved the view:
That's the view of Selcuk.
On the other side of the terrace you can check out the Basilica of St John (an upcoming post), which is across the street from the hotel and further in the background is the old fort which is closed to the public.
A few feet from the ledge of the terrace is this.
Here's a closer look.... it's a pair of storks!
We were told that the storks return to Selcuk every year to nest, often staying until the early fall. We were also told that the same couple will return to the same location of their nests year after year. Storks nest everywhere above the ground; on pillars, the old aqueduct, telephone poles....
One of the owners of the Hotel, Erdahl, sat down with us, and explained that our room wasn't ready yet. He mentioned that perhaps we'd like to leave our bags, and take a walk down the street (everything is down the street in Selcuk!) to check out the Ephesus Museum, Temple of Artemis, and the Basilica of St John. He explained that the walk was 2 kilometers..... which by now was a piece of cake. So we set off...... in about a minute we arrived at the main street, Ataturk Caddesi, and decided to grab something to eat. Erdahl mentioned a Pide place, but the Missus was fascinated with this place.
No, not the water closet, but the restaurant that was sending wonderful bursts of the scent of grilled meat down the street. Actually, I really tried to discourage the Missus from stopping here.... this place only sold two things, beef on skewer (cop sis) and meat balls (kofte), and these were beef, not lamb.... and the Missus was trying to stay away from most meat. But we ended up taking seat behind the grill area.... a very nice little courtyard. There we encountered a very positive sign. Everyone eating here was local...... all business men in suits.
The Missus ordered the Cop Sis, basically beef shish kabobs, which smelled heavenly, but was hidden under four huge slices of bread..... ubiquitously Turkish.
Instead of huge chunks of meat on a skewer, these were tender and juicy slices of beef..... with a rich gamey flavor like good grass-fed beef. The shaker of spice provided was not sumac like I thought, but ground cumin.... making this like a wonderful Niu Rou Chuan.
The missus actually enjoyed my kofte even more. Very moist, holding firm until melting into your mouth once you got past the charred exterior.
Along with the pile of bread, the other usual accompaniment for this type of meal was pickled cabbage, tomatoes, and peppery arugula.
By the time I finished sipping my all too salty ayran (yogurt drink), all the guys in suits had left.... back to work I guess.
And it was time for us to be on our way....... just a couple of blocks down Ataturk Caddesi, taking a right turn on Dr Sabri Yaylar Bulvari, and you'll come to the Ephesus Museum. The museum houses many statues and artifacts from Ephesus and what little there is from the Temple of Artemis.
There are a couple of items that are famous in the museum, the first being the statue of Priapus, a god of fertility...and well something else. For more info, you can check out the Wikipedia entry. IF you don't understand, think of the medical condition priapism. The other are the statues of the Greek Goddess Artemis. That photo to the right is of I believe the statue they call "The Beautiful Artemis" or the "Small Artemis".
One statues, or part of a statue I found interesting was the head and arm of Imparator Domitian taken from the ruins of The Temple to Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian in Ephesus.
You can't tell by my photo, but that cabeza and forearm are huge! Plus, for some reason, that face, sort of babyish, kinda spooky looking, stays with me.....
It was great spending about an hour and a half in the museum, but there were still a couple more places to see this afternoon!