Thursday, 19 September 2013

Efes

I've always dreamed of visiting Turkey and now I have. Not Istanbul, but Izmir (once known as Smyrna), Turkey's third largest city on the Aegean Sea. A natural port, this city is built around the Gulf of Izmir. While I didn't spend much time in the city, I did spend a lot of time outside it.

I thought I knew what to expect, and yet I didn't. Getting into Turkey after being in Berlin for a week was a bit of a shock. For awhile my eyes couldn't quite adjust to seeing low-rise buildings set in a dull brown undulating landscape as far as the eye could see huddled close together around the Gulf.

Again, I arrived in a new place with a migraine and was only too glad to be whisked off home to a nice cool bath and dinner on the balcony with a cool breeze blowing in my face.

One of the first places I visited was Ephesus or Efes, one of the Seven Churches of Asia written about in the book of Revelation i.e. Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamon, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea. 

We parked at the exit area of the site and took a horse cart up to the entrance. Yay! I've never been on a horse cart before and it was quite an experience. It's incredible how people traveled such long distances in it. Imagine being bumped along the road for three hours with dust being kicked up all around you! Still it was a fantastic experience with a view of vines, olive trees and ruins. 

Founded in the 10th century BC, Ephesus was later abandoned in the 15th century AD, after silting throughout the ages kept pushing the sea further away cutting the city off from the harbour that kept it thriving for centuries.

Digging and clearing is still going on, so while its well worth a visit now, it will be truly fantastic if you are able to visit the site again in about 5 years. Just to see how much more of the city remains hidden in the hills.  

If you enjoy history, the best thing to do is to get an audio guide at the entrance. It will give you the detailed story of the site and some of its more important features, which are easy to miss. 

The beginning of a long walk


Curetes Street, a view of the hills in which parts of Ephesus is still buried and me


Stone carvings and Curetes Street


Stone carvings


The Goddess Nike or 'Victory'


The Library of Celsus, Curetes Street and the arch of Hadrian's Temple


The Library of Celsus


Walkway to the harbour


The Theatre, one of the first things visitors to Ephesus would have seen when walking up into the city from the harbour


View of the harbour walkway from the Theatre

Ephesus is gorgeous to visit. I was truly speechless (well, mostly) during the entire visit. It really is something special. It's place for one to experience, not hear someone describe. As much as all the photos you look at of it can be lovely, none of it does justice to the place. Be prepared to walk though, and if you go in summer watch out for the sun! 

Do stop at the Ephesus Museum Shop at the exit for a cup of coffee, Cay or to shop. It is worth picking up some souvenirs here as they seem to be of different quality and variety than the ones I saw elsewhere. You will not find the same souvenirs again in other parts of the country, as I discovered later. 


Pine trees at the exit