One of my favourite places in Turkey was the ancient city of Epehesus – well their ruins at least.
We were about a third of the way through our extended travels with Italy and Rome still to come. So I was kind of blown away to come across ruins that would rival those of Rome in everyway.
But not only the ruins. As it turns out – so did the city in it’s heyday.
Ephesus was a great commerce center – that strengthened the Roman foothold in Asia and survived all the way from the Bronze Age, through the Hellenistic, Roman and Ottoman periods. It was in fact the second largest city in the entire Roman Empire.
These days it is one of the most popular tourist attractions of a country that boasts many, easily accessed from Kusadasi, where the large cruise boats deposit hundreds upon hundreds of tourists for a day trip.
We came overland on a small group tour with Australian adventure tour company Geckos.
At the time of our visit (May 2012) the site was not a designated UNESCO World Heritage site, but it deservedly achieved this in 2015, ensuring that its preservation will be maintained.
Our visit to Ephesus started on the outskirts with a stop at the Temple of Artemis – which was once a one of the “Seven Wonders of the World” but sadly now little of it remains.
It is easy to spend a whole day exploring the the ancient streets and whats left of the buildings, ampitheaters and agoras.
The city was a melting pot of culture and religion with influences from its Hellenistic, Roman and Persian history. Ephesus is prominent in the christian bible, through the Letters of St Paul. who admonished them for their pagan behaviour.
The city’s ruins are remarkably well preserved, showing its grandeur. The highlight is definitely the walk down Curetes St to the Library of Celsus. In the far off distance are green fields, but once, amazingly that was the harbour that the city was built around.
The street’s pavers are made from marble and columns line the streets on either side. It would have been amazing and opulent in the height of it’s glory.
With out a doubt the most beautiful building in the complex is the Library of Clesus. It was built in 117AD as a tomb for Gaius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus, who was the governor of the Asian province. It was the third richest library at the time, after those in Alexandria and Pergamum holding more than 12,000 scrolls.
This is the busiest part of the city for tourists trying to get the perfect photo of ruins so well preserved. A bunch of Australians constantly photobombing Japanese tourists probably didn’t help much… but we are in so many at least we can say – we are big in Japan 🙂 And you really do need a sense of humour when you travel.
Photobombing over – the next stop is the Great Theatre, which is located on Panayir Hill. The theatre seated up to 25,000 people, making the largest in Anatolia.
Its worth having plenty of time to explore Ephesus – take hat and plenty of water – especially in summer – and really good walking shoes.