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Ephesus! Stellar Ruins

July 31, 2007

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We timed it so we were the first in the gate and had it all to ourselves for a little while on a cool brilliant morning in late July. I would never have believed we would have such good luck in high season as I have heard so much about the crowds. This highlight of any trip to Turkey, was truly awe inspiring and beyond what any camera or video can catch, although we did our best at trying!

It is one of the best preserved ancient cities in the Mediterranean (only Pompeii tops it) and is also central to the birth and evolution of Christianity. We got good advice to not go on Sunday or Wednesday as that is when the cruise tour busses come and to go either very early or very late in the day. We were there before it opened as we wanted to miss the heat as well, although luckily, it was not a super hot day and there was a nice breeze. I have read that Ephesus is about as good an introduction as one can get on Roman civilization, which becomes obvious almost immediately.

Mozart wanted to wear her new belly dancing outfit to feel like part of that ancient time and brought her camera and violin. This is a startling city of antiquity, especially for children, as it is so well preserved that they can get a real sense of the life, in this most elegant city in the Roman Empire. As we hiked along the trail all by ourselves and read from our books together, one could almost feel the vibrancy of this city and its people at its peak. We felt a little like time travelers making a new discovery, until other people started trickling in. We felt lucky to be able to walk in the footsteps of Julius Caesar who had also trekked thru this city.

When you see how huge this site is, it is amazing to think that only twenty percent of it has been excavated. We were thrilled to see more archeologist working here and had a chance to talk to a few female advanced degree students who were doing some detailed work, who shared a little bit with us. Mozart got a real sense of the painstaking precision that is needed in this work.

Ephesus was started in 356 BC, its name means “city of the Mother Goddess” and in the 2nd century it was the fourth largest city in the Roman Empire. It was the home of one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world, Artemesium, plus a medical school, gymnasium and was a hub for fine arts, sciences and philosophers. It attracted people like Brutus, Cassius, Antony, Cicero and Julius and Augustus Caesar.

Some written sources say that St. Paul lived here from 65 to 68 and preached famous sermons that landed him in jail here for a while. Legend has it that St.John came to Ephesus with the Virgin Mary in his care.

The Library of Celsus is one of the best known and best preserved structures at Ephesus and is a two stories tall with eight massive columns. There are two statues that symbolize destiny, virtue, knowledge and wisdom. What fun to have Mozart playing her violin in front of it with no one else around and the sound echoing thru the Marble Way! I think she felt a little like a real Roman in her fantasies and it certainly will be a video and picture we will always cherish. She had just as much fun climbing the stairs, running down and exploring it close up.

The Great Theater is also a dramatic extravaganza to behold. It took sixty years to dig out enough space from Mt. Pion to hold 25,000 spectators and the views are priceless. It was begun in Hellenistic times and was enlarged by emperors Claudius, Nero and Trajan. St Paul gave one of his famous sermons against pagan worship here. It still provides entertainment today and my only regret with Ephesus is that we missed a performance by a day.

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Marlana

This is one of my dream places to see as well. I can read Koine greek, and so could read many of the writing on the ancient sites. Something about ancient ruins that make me go WOW WOW

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