Sunday 22nd May
Following advice from a pair of young American women staying in our
pension, we got to Ephesus as early as possible in the morning: it opens
at 8 and we got there at 8.10. Going in at the bottom entrance, where
the local bus (dolmus) dropped us off, instead of at the top,
where the tour buses drop groups off, we had the bottom area almost to
ourselves for half an hour.
The theatre at Ephesus is the setting of a famous scene in Acts.
The capital of Roman Asia Minor for centuries, Ephesus may have had a
peak population of 250,000 or more. It was abandoned eventually
because the harbour silted up and (I think) the site wasn't as
defensible as the much smaller castle back at Selcuk.
the Terrace Houses
One separate area, which you have to pay extra to get into, is the
"Terrace Houses". This is a 4000 square metre residential development,
climbing up the hillside, with six dwellings complete with central
heating, plumbing, mosaics and frescoes, and so forth — some of
them were later subdivided, or extended with ensuites. I was definitely
imagining the real estate agent's spiel for this one! It's an active
restoration project, under cover for protection, and you can see people
at work as you climb around the walkways.
It was overcast, making it quite pleasant to walk around. If it were
boiling hot — or pouring with rain — then the Terrace Houses
would make a good escape from the weather. And hardly anyone else was
in there, just one large archaeological specialist tour group.
The Library of Celsus was one of the great libraries of the ancient world.
There's not much left, but the facade has been reconstructed. Curetes Way
had shops on either side, and here it was easy to imagine the spruikers
yelling out their sales pitches to passers-by.
an Ephesian cat
Turkey is full of cats
, most of which seem
in surprisingly good condition even amidst the ruins, though something
has to be limiting the population.
The preference for cats over dogs is one area where Anatolian farming
has triumphed over nomadic ways. I'm sure the remaining nomads still
have their dogs, however.
my Greek is rather rusty
The religious mix was fascinating. There's a temple to Cybele/Artemis
— two famous statues from here are in the museum in Selcuk
— plenty of Roman temples, and of course the Christian churches.
The residential complex mentioned above had a little chapel,
and near the bottom entrance there's the ruins of the famous Church of Mary
which may date to 431 (when the Third Ecumenical Council decided that
Mary was the Mother of God). Ephesus is of course the location of some
of the events in Acts, and the church here was the target of the letter
attributed to Paul.
After four hours we were just leaving when a torrential downpour hit,
which we sat out having lunch in a restaurant before catching the bus
back to Selcuk.