Oh Ephesus….what do I say about you? 🙂
Our 3rd Port of Call on our 14 Night Adriatic Cruise was the Port of Kusadasi. This beautiful port is only 20-30 minutes from Ancient Ephesus and is a very beautiful place!
We previously arranged to join a group tour with the Hello Ephesus company. I expected a middle aged or older man or woman to be our tour guide, but this petite little gal local to the area strolled up in nothing less than hot pink pants! Ezgi was adorable, very kind, and so knowledgeable to take us all around. A fantastic surprise was that we were her only guests for the tour, which meant we would have a private tour making it much easier to hear, ask questions, and make our schedule more tailored to our interests.
Our first stop would be the Ancient City of Ephesus. WOW. With evidence in excavations of history as far back as 6000 BC in the Neolithic Age…to amazing history and ruins all the way through the Roman period…to the influential Biblical history that occurred in this city…I could not believe we were standing and walking through a place where such diverse and important history was made.
This (below) is a statue of the Goddess Nike.
Nike means “Victory” and this goddess is where the Nike brand and swoosh logo came from.
Can you see the logo in her dress here? 🙂
The Roman baths seemed so advanced for the time period during which they were built. There was a pipe system for heating and cooling ran throughout creating a cold temperature room, mild temperature room and finally a hot temperature room all in which the people would relax while socializing and getting oil massages. The public toilets for people who could not afford a toilet in their home were a little…interesting. Picture this – dozens of toilets in a row indoors with water running underneath to heat and cool them. There was a fountain to look at in the room (for ambiance I guess haha). For cleaning, you had a stick with a sponge that you would dip in the water in the drain by your feet, and then you would “clean” and leave the stick for the next lovely person in need. Not only this, but people enjoyed staying around on the toilet after doing their business to be able to keep socializing. It was a different world, eh? 😉
The Terrace Houses were unbelievable. These houses have taught historians much about homes and family lifestyles of the rich and the famous during the Roman periods. These were obviously rich peoples’ homes, and you can see the mosaics, marble and painted detail are crazy beautiful and fancy. These homes were heated and cooled with the same clay pipe systems as the Roman baths.
The archaeologists are still uncovering things and working hard to restore and preserve the structures and artifacts found. It is crazy because only about 10-20% of Ancient Ephesus has been excavated. We could really get an idea of how much might still be out there when we exited the Terrace Houses and looked across the horizon at just dozens of ruins scattered all over the place randomly.
The Celsus Library is by far a very impressive sight. Built by his son to honor him, the Library could store 12,000 scrolls and was built over the crypt where Roman Senator Tiberius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus is buried.
Below is the Grand Theater of Ephesus. Not only did this get used for dramas, social/political/economical events and – yes – gladiator games, but the Biblical riot started by the silversmith Demetrius against the Apostle Paul is believed to have happened around the theater (Acts 19). The Apostle Paul lived in Ephesus for a couple of years and preached the gospel (supposedly to thousands in this theater) and helped the early Christian church in Ephesus. While he was there, he wrote the book of 1 Corinthians and later would write letters from Rome to Timothy – his companion in Ephesus (The Books of 1st and 2nd Timothy) – and letters believed to be to the church in Ephesus (the New Testament Book of Ephesians).
This (below) is where they kept the entertainment (actors, gladiators, and wild animals) under the theater stage.
This marble walkway used to lead right out to the sea. Our guide Ezgi loves diving in her free time and said there is an unknown number of shipwrecks buried out there and in the sea today that have yet to be discovered. It is exciting to imagine what could one day still be recovered!
In addition to the establishment of the Ephesian church and Paul and Timothy’s history in Ephesus, it is believed that the Apostle John left Jerusalem and lived in Ephesus. From Ephesus he was exiled to the isle of Patmos where he would write the book of Revelations. He was eventually able to return to Ephesus where he lived the rest of his life. The Basilica of St. John is believed to have been built over his burial site.
The St. John Basilica is not to far from the ruins of the Temple of Artemis – one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Here is what it supposedly looked like –
and here it is today…ruins in a swamp –
After some serious historical visits, we explored the small Sirince Village – which I loved! It was like we were the only ones there. Quiet, peaceful and tucked in a valley of olive tree groves.
We later ate lunch at this beautiful little place which is also where the ladies who make carpets go to learn and perfect the craft.
In efforts to sell us a rug I am sure, I got to learn how to make a carpet and see all the different types and patterns of rugs. But they were gorgeous and it was amazing the variations in detail and texture based on the materials used.
After we finished at the rug shop, Ezgi asked if we’d like to have a little fun and see their leather shop. We figured – why not? Oh. MY. GOSH! They did a mini and private fashion show modeling all their beautiful jackets and for the grand finale, they pulled Bryan backstage for what would be my entertainment for the whole day. They put their puffiest jacket on him and put him on the spot to catwalk and strut his stuff.
“I was so uncomfortable having some other woman hold my hand!” he told me later after I wiped the tears away from laughing so much. Though we didn’t buy any gorgeous jackets, I felt like I walked away with an invaluable memory souvenir!
When our tour day drew to a close, Bryan and I said goodbye to Ezgi and headed down to the busy local bizarre catered to all those cruise shoppers. Bryan enjoyed every minute of haggling with salesmen and getting beckoned by shop owners….while I found myself stressed out from all the sales pressure and apologizing for not wanting their knickknacks.
Ephesus was outstanding and the memories and experiences made this an epic stop on our vacation. After another relaxing sea day, we headed back to Split, Croatia. Stay tuned for more adventures there! 🙂