Doug & Heather's Voyages

Join us as we travel the world...or at least that which can be reached by cruise ship.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Ephesus

Today we visited Turkey. While we were on a tour the entire time in port, you could definitely notice a difference in the culture with the street vendors and signs for "Genuine Fake Watches", etc.

Our tour started with a visit to the last home of the Virgin Mary way up in the hills above Ephesus. The house had been found as a result of a German nun's visions which detailed the area although she had never left Germany. Several Pope's had also visited the site and declared that it was Mary's house. The mountain air and shade provided at this spot was very pleasant, in sharp contrast to the next couple of hours of our tour.

The next stop was the top of Ephesus. The crowds all day were enormous and this was a little discouraging. It would be wonderful to be able to tour this site with fewer people. The ruins are amazing in comparison to the ones we saw in Greece. The inhabitants of the city had been Greek's, but were under Roman rule during the time the city that we visited was built (although there had been a couple of previous sites of Ephesus prior to this). The buildings and temples were well preserved as they had been simply abandoned when the harbor became a swamp due to silt buildup and mosquitoes had festered and spread malaria.

In addition to temples and statues, we got a good feel for the day to day life of the Ephesians. I thought it seemed like a great city to live in with running water, entertainment and lots of commerce. The main shopping area had been a marble ramp with columns and covered stores on each side. Houses of the merchants sat behind the shops and were terraced up the hills. This has been excavated, but was under a good 15 feet of silt buildup. Something like 85% of the city is still to be uncovered since the population at one time was around 200,000. We saw roman baths, a community latrine, and one of the largest libraries of the time.

The Theater is where Paul spoke to the Ephesians about the Christian God. This picture is Heather listening to Paul.

After a compulsory stop at a shopping area where the Turks tried to sell us everything from saffron to ancient coins found at the Ephesus site, likely minted in China, we went to visit St. John's Basilica which was the first resting place of John, the Apostle. His body has since been moved although no one knows where. John was the only one of the 12 apostles who died of natural causes, the others having been killed. Out front of this was where the street vendors swarmed us including a couple of shoeshine people who would reach out for your foot, even if you were wearing tennis shoes. We watched them ruin one tourists black Nike's...not sure how much they charged him for the pleasure.

On the way, we saw the remaining column of the Temple of Artemis which was one of the wonders of the ancient world. Most of the structure had been taken down and used for other construction. There were stork nests on top of many of the ancient structures and there were 4 or 5 sitting on top of this particular column.

Unfortunately this was the last thing we got to see before heading back to the ship. We didn't even have time to stop off at the restaurant on the dock that said they had the best kebaps in town…boo. We really enjoyed this port and would like to come back some day...instead of ruins, I would try going to the large water park on the city's outskirts.

Tomorrow, more Turkey with our visit to Istanbul, not Constantinople.

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