Ephesus Sunday 8th June 2014
We caught the bus (sort of a mini-bus called a dolmus) to Ephesus. Efes (as the Turks call it) is something else, comparable in impact (but different in styles) to Pompeii or Delphi. It is also vast - home to a third of a million people at its height. It used to be one of the key commercial ports in the region. Silting over the centuries caused it to eventually be abandoned and it is now miles inland.
Originally a bronze age settlement, inhabited and developed over thousands of years, it has been home to ancient Anatolians, Lydians, Ionians from 1,000BC, Romans, Christians, Byzantine, etc. It has been built up and destroyed (earthquakes and the like) over the centuries. No respecters of antiquity, those rebuilding their homes would use whatever materials to hand, so the Roman terrace houses contain bits of Hellenic marble columns placed on their sides as walling blocks. And today, the cats use ancient plinths as places to comfortably doze in the sun.
The site is a whole town, with 2 marketplaces (Agoras), one of them huge covering acres and bounded by 67 marble pillars. There are 2 gymnasia and a stadium, terraced houses for the rich, two main thoroughfares that were flanked by pillars, statues, fountains, shops and more, culminating in the Library of Celcus and the main Theatre (there are two). The amphitheatre was Greek (3rd-1stC BC), altered later by the Romans in 1st C AD, and no doubt by others since. Lots of the statues and actual archaeological remains found are now in various museums and it is really the structure that you see here. The terraced houses are under cover - they are vast, with umpteen bedrooms, private indoor plumbing, great courtyards and decorated in marble or with frescoes. Some of these paintings are still visible and being restored. One large room was called the Marble Room - its floor and walls all panelled with different coloured marble. Another room I called the Puzzle Room had tables and crates galore containing thousands of fragments - trying to piece them together to form a complete picture certainly looked a challenge.
We were hijacked by a taxi driver when we got off the bus, who convinced us to let him take us first to the Meryemana (Virgin Mary's House), where she was apparently brought by St John in her later years and where she is reputed to have eventually died. Pope Paul VI visited and gave the Catholic Church's official approval of its authenticity. It is even written up in the Koran. Richard drank from the sacred spring, hoping for miracles…. Then our man took us to the top gate for Ephesus. By starting there, we probably saved about 6km up uphill walking in very hot conditions. We spent the day walking (down!) the length of the town; at each turn the views became more and more impressive. Out the other end for another 1km walk back to the road to catch the Dolmus "home".
Now it is time to bash on - we want to head south in pretty quick hops, past this Ionian coast (called the Concrete Coast in the pilot book due to the block ribbon tourist development blighting the length of it) and on to the Carian and Med coasts. And we need to sort out a Blue Card. To end this high-falluting stuff and bring us down to the real world - a Blue card is compulsory, even though you can't get one in Kusadasi. It covers the pumping out of black water waste (loo holding tanks to you and me). Not that anyone gets pumped out, but you need to pay your 20 T Lira for your Card. Of course.