March 16, 2015
We both slept very well last night, and not even the call to prayer at 5:30 am woke us up. After breakfast the man from Medusa Cars came to pick up our rental car. Since we were ready to go he drove us to the top entrance of Ephesus, the Magnesia Gate, and dropped us off there. That was the least he could do, since we left half a tank of petrol in the car for him!
Luckily there weren’t too many tour buses parked there, so we hoped the site wouldn’t be too crowded. Dodging the touts who wanted to sell us guidebooks, we bought our tickets and went through the gates, which opened up onto a large area called the Agora. We had brought our own guidebook from the B&B and using that, we identified the various areas. There are also information boards which explain the ruins very well.
We were in the upper city and from here the Curates Way leads downhill with most of the buildings on either side of it. They are all in various stages of ruin but with the help of our guidebook we were able to figure out the size of each place. Near the entrance was the small theatre—the Odeion—which was used for government meetings, and the public market—the Agora. The Odeion could seat 5000 people, so it was about the same size as Priene’s, but most of its upper rows had been reconstructed.
As we continued our way down the Curates Way we saw several tall columns of marble, but many more pieces lying on the ground. The area had several earthquakes, notably three in quick succession around 500 BC which caused a lot of damage. Really, after three thousand years of earthquakes and fires and invasions it’s surprising that anything at all is left today.
Near the bottom of the hill there was a huge area under a tented roof, the “terraced houses”. In one of his rants Blair-from-Seattle had said this was one of the most interesting parts of Ephesus and it was a shame how the tour groups skipped past it. And he was right; this was one of the more interesting areas of Ephesus, well worth the cost of ₺15 each. It was a place where apartments had been built up the slope from the central street, over an old Hellenistic graveyard.
To view the rooms you walked on plexiglass walkways above the rooms, so you could look down into them. The Roman houses were very elaborate, with mosaic floors and painted murals which were very well preserved. One of them covered 4,000 square feet and had its own church.
At the bottom of the hill was the Celsus Library with its Petra-like frontage of columns. It was quite a striking sight. Then the street turned right and went past more markets and baths and so on, down to the big theatre at the far end. When we got there somebody was singing, quite well in fact, but surprisingly he turned out to be just a tourist who was having some fun!
The last stop at the end of the road was the Church of Mary. It was the location of an important Christian church convention in 431 AD, but since then it has declined and is just a ruin like the rest of Ephesus. As we stood looking at the front of the church we saw a bird fly up to the top of one of the columns. At first we thought it was a jay, but looking closer we realized it was a Little Owl. We watched it for a while and tried to photograph it, with only some success. Interestingly when Caroline was here a year and a half ago she saw a Little Owl at the very same place, so we were lucky to see it.
By the time we left Ephesus it was 1 pm. We walked the 4 km back to Selçuk, stopping at the Temple of Artemis along the way. The temple was one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world, but now not much is left of it except one column and some foundations. You could see how large it would have been, but it was a good thing there was no admission charge.
Back in Selçuk we stopped by the otogar to buy our tickets to go to Pamukkale tomorrow. That was pretty quick, not like our ticket from Çanakkale to İzmir where they wanted our names so they could print computerized tickets for us. We had originally planned to take the train to Denizli and then catch a dolmuş up the hill to Pamukkale, but everybody in Selçuk told us to take the direct bus because it would take less time, so that’s what we did.
One of the people we had met at the B&B was named Osman, a friend of the family who ran the place. We found that he had a carpet shop, so we stopped by there to buy some pillow covers for decorating our house. We hadn’t planned on buying any Turkish carpets, but by the time we left we had purchased a carpet runner, two pillow covers, and a table runner, all to be shipped via UPS and get home at the same time we do. The carpet runner should look good in our front room; it might not match the furniture, but if not then the furniture will have to go!
We had one last stop to make and that was the Ephesus Museum, right in the centre of town. The museum has been recently renovated and contains important items from Ephesus including many items from the terraced houses. It was amazing to see fully intact glass jars which have survived 2000 years without being broken, and the array of statues they had was quite extensive.
Tonight we had the promised lentil soup at Ejder restaurant, and it was really good. The red pepper flakes gave it a bit of a spicy kick. We also had Turkish pizzas, which we hadn’t yet tried. While we were there we helped the owner rewrite his menu translation using correct English grammar and spelling, and in return he gave us a discount on the meal price. (We were thinking we could make a career out of doing that, since it’s very rare to see an English translation without a lot of errors in Turkey.)