Turkey: Day 5 – Ephesus, Kusadasi and Mary’s House

5-DSCN9445We started the day driving through the Turkish countryside from Izmir to Ephesus. The Drive reminded us of California, with its rolling hills and beautiful greenery. Perhaps one of the things that most impressed us was the beautiful landscaping. For mile after mile, flowers line the medians of Turkish highways.

After about an hour’s drive, we arrived in Ephesus.

5-DSCN9550Built in the 10th century BC by the Hittites and abandoned by the Ottomans in the 15th century AD, Ephesus has been a part of the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman Empires.

The size of the ruins is pretty magnificent, knowing that only a 15% has been uncovered by archaeologists.5-DSCN9619

When visiting you will have the opportunity to see the and walk through the ruins of the Turkish baths, the (auditorium), the 25,000 spectator theater, and the market.

Perhaps the two most famous buildings in Ephesus are the Library of Celsius and the Temple of Artemis.

5-DSCN9526The Temple is considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. It was originally built in 550 BC and after an invasion in 356 BC and a final destruction by the Goths in 268 AD, the temple remained undiscovered until 1869. You will be able to see a part of the front facade and some of the columns of this great temple.

5-DSCN9575This library was built in honor of Roman Senator Tiberius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus (who was also buried there) and completed in 135 AD. Its life was short-lived as it was destroyed by an earthquake and fire in 262 AD. The library could hold over 12,000 scrolls. In the 1960s and 1970s, the facade was rebuilt as true and original as possible.

5-DSCN9515Walking the streets, you can easily imagine what it would have been like to walk these same streets during the prime of this ancient city.

After a two hour visit to the ruins, we made our way up Mount Koressos, just beyond the ruins, to the House of the Virgin Mary.

The drive up is a scenic route that allows you to see a panoramic view of the city of Selçuk. About halfway up, you will pass a statue of the blessed mother which overlooks the city. As you arrive on the site, you will pass a guard gate and immediately see a small restaurant and gift shop. This will lead you to a walk past an ancient cistern and beautiful gardens and a small outdoor altar where services are held on August 15th to commemorate the assumption of Mary into heaven.5-DSCN9811

Just past the altar is a small stone house. Although definitive proof has never been found, due to the fact that St. John settled in Ephesus, many believe this is where Mary lived the last few years of her life.

5-DSCN9805The house has a guard inside to ensure no one defaces it and that photos are not taken inside to preserve the religious atmosphere. Christians and Muslims alike can be seen stopping to pray before a statue of Mary inside the house.

5-DSCN9820As you exit and begin the descent back to the parking area, you will pass four water spigots on the stone wall. This is where you can bring your empty containers to collect waters that have been said to be miraculous or simply take some to bless yourself.

Following our visit to Mary’s house, we began our journey back to the city of Izmir, but not without taking the scenic route through the coastal town of Kuşadası.5-DSCN9867

Kuşadası features some spectacular views of the Agean Sea and in the horizon you can even see one of the Greek isles. Some cruise companies use this as a port city for shore excursions to Ephesus.

5-DSCN9880The town is a great tourist town with hundreds of tourists walking around when cruises are docked. Numerous new construction projects can be seen on the cliffs overlooking the sea.

Day 6…

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