Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Seaside town of Kusadasi and the ruins in Selçuk and Ephesus

{ November 2009 - Kusadasi, Selçuk & Ephesus, Turkey }

Our 5th day started with a beautiful view from our hotel in Kusadasi. We arrived pretty late the night before, and so we could not really enjoy the view. We went out for a short walk in the morning to soak in the scenery. Kusadasi is a town by the Aegean Sea. It is a beautiful seaside town that is mainly catered for tourists. And so, like all seaside tourist town, it doesn’t have much of a culture.


The bus came to pick us up for a tour of Ephesus. From the readings that we have done before leaving for Turkey, we knew that Ephesus was one of the best-preserved Roman town, or rather city considering the size. And, boy was it huge and amazing. Many of the structures were still standing, and it was the best ancient Roman town that we saw in the whole of Turkey!


Can you spot the word Trajan among the Greek letters?


There were great mosaics on a section of the floor. I could only try to imagine how the place originally looked like during its prime!

  

And this must be my favourite structure of all - The Library of Celsus. Only the facade of the library was left, and even that was a great architectural marvel. The base was convex, adding height to the building, and the central columns were larger than those at the ends. All these made the building much larger than it actually was, but you wouldn't notice those when admiring the structure. It once held thousands of scrolls around its walls, but with a gap between the inner and outer walls to protect the scrolls from the temperature and humidity. What I wouldn't give to be transported back in time to experience being in the middle of it all. Wonder if I was a librarian during the Roman times...



The Great Theatre was another building that made me went - wow! It was not the first Roman theatre we saw in Turkey, nor would it be the last. It was, however, the grandest theatre we saw. It could sit 25,000 people and was still used for performances up to this day!



 

Just right in front of the theatre was Harbour Street. It was the grandest street in Ephesus and used to have street lights and shops!


After enjoying the grand Ephesus, we went back to Selçuk and visited the Temple of Artemis, or rather the site where the temple used to be. It was hard to imagine that this was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It used to be the largest in the world - bigger than the Parthenon at Athens. There used to be 127 columns, but today, all that was left was one column topped with a nest. It was quite difficult to imagine the grand building it once was - but I bet it was magnificent.


The tour that we joined herded us to a shop of a Turkish carpet seller, where they started flipping out the carpets one by one on the floor. The carpets were amazing - the detail, the effort and the comfort. Unfortunately, as it is made knot by knot (double knots for each, according to them) it was pretty expensive! A small 1 metre by 1 metre "carpet" would cost TL100!

 

Next, we visited the House of Virgin Mary. It was believed that the Virgin Mary lived in this house during her final years. While it was never authenticated, a few popes had since visited the house. It was converted into a chapel, and I had a warm comfortable feeling when I was inside. It was probably due to the prayers performed by people all over the world that had a chance to stop in this small but significant house.


The last stop for the evening was the small town of Şirince nearby. While only a few hundreds people were living there now, it was once a Greek town. We only managed to walk along the centre of the village with rows of small shops selling fruit wines, olive oil and souvenirs.

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