Sunday, January 8, 2012

Ephesus, Turkey

This was a second visit to Ephesus, the previous visit was on my first cruise ever.  It was on the Celebrity Galaxy from Rome about 6 years ago.  Not much has changed, but then when visiting ruins that is normal.
The biggest difference is that we entered the site from the other side and walked through the whole site.  We walked past the ruins of a small theater, the 'terrace' house and shops.  Ephesus at its peak was a prosperous seaport.  Unfortunately, the river silt filled the harbor and the city lost its importance.
On this excursion, we did go to a shrine for Mary, Ephesus is where she went to after the crucifixion.  The shrine is located on top of the one of the surrounding hills.  There is a small chapel, her reconstructed house and the spring where water was gathered.  Pilgrims to the site leave wishes on the wall near the spring.
The major attraction is the remains of the Library of Ephesus.  All that remains is the front wall and courtyard.  Only my last visit there was a small re-enactment with actors dressed in Roman garb.  The architecture of the Library shows how elaborate of a building and Ephesus was.

The area surrounding the Library is filled with 'terrace' houses.  These were the houses of the wealthy members of society.  Interspersed between there houses are shops, temples and shrines to both gods and deceased residents.  Since this was the wealthy section of town, the shrines to deceased loved ones rivaled the temples to  the current gods.  One of the houses has been restored to its former elegance, and is part of a museum.  One of the major structures in ancient Ephesus has succumbed to time and no longer exists.  It is the Temple to Artemis.  It was larger then the Parthenon in Athens, the only remnants is one column located in a farmer's field.
All Roman cities of any size always had a main meeting place, usually a large amphitheater.  The one in Ephesus is where the Apostle Paul preached, it is where his Letters to the Ephesians originated.  It is amazing to walk on the same stones that biblical figures also tread on.
On the way to the exit of the site is the ancient Roman road that connected Ephesus to the rest of the empire.  It is lined with pieces that have been recovered at the site, but the original buildings have been destroyed.  After the rows of gift shops we board the bus to return to the port.
Once back in the port we are given a demonstration on the weaving of carpets.  Refreshments are provided and then the sales pitch., free shipping included!  There are a few streets lined with shops featuring everything from the usual tourist items to leather jackets to knock-off watches.  After a few purchases, we board the ship, and have a late lunch.
This probably will not come as much of a surprise, but.......the 'Gems of the Sea' were late again.  Fifteen minutes before departure their names are announced.  Luckily they did board before they were late.  The interesting thing is that the ship blows its horn to announce departure.  In a port of less than 10 blocks, it should be easy to hear and realize it is time to head to the ship.  Some people will never learn.

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