A ruin should always be protected but never repaired – thus may we witness full the lingering legacies of the past – Walter Scott
The weathered stones soak up the sun and seem to come alive. Its aura radiates opulence, decadence and grandeur. These stones speak of a time when Ephesus was a land of abundance and prosperity.
To achieve these luxurious heights, and in order to survive, the Ephesians had to suck up to greed, power and politics, this was their dark side. But on the bright side, they also collaborated with scholars, artists and architects who would give them a taste of knowledge and beauty.
The fabric of Ephesus was a tapestry of all of all things dark and light, which made it an attractive option for the rich Romans and Greeks.
Ships docked at the nearby port of Kusadasi and brought the rich and famous to experience the luxuries this city had to offer. These prominent citizens established a culture that encouraged world class literature, fine art and contemporary architecture.
Ephesus flourished under the Greek and Roman empires in the 10th century BC.
The ruins of Ephesus can be explored by walking around and taking in the sights. You can begin your walk either from the upper entrance or the notoriously famous Marble Street.
Upper Entrance – The Luxurious Baths Of Varius
Looking at the tumbled down structure it is hard to imagine that the baths were built lavishly of marble and mosaic. People came here to relax and rejuvenate.
The air would have been filled with steamy conversations of scandal, gossip, affairs and politics.
There were 3 types of baths depending on the treatment the person was seeking – cold water, warm water and hot water.
An Evening At The Odeon Theatre
Odeon was built for a small and exclusive audience – wealthy citizens, ambassadors, high ranking officials etc
Gentlemen and ladies, dressed in their finery would have got off their carriages eager to have an enjoyable evening. The air would have been filled with sounds of music and applause.
Power And Politics At Curetes Street
Political alliances with the powerful roman officials was necessary for the Ephesians to receive the necessary favors. As a result, temples, fountains and monuments were built in honor of the many Romans and their gods.
The Temple of Hadrian and Domitian Square are some of the monuments seen on either side of Curetes street. This street was also home to the rich and famous. Their houses had the finest art and architecture of the time.
The Condos Of Ephesus – Terraced Houses
The hilly terrain of Curetes street compelled the builders to think of an innovative solution for housing. Terraces were cut from the hills and the houses were built on multiple levels. It was considered to be an engineering marvel of the time.
The homes had walls filled with fine art, portraits or decorative patterns. It was common to have the floors carpeted in rich and intricate mosaic patterns. Each home competed to be better than their neighbor.
An Artist’s Expression – The Temple Of Hadrian
An immaculate structure in white sandstone, the temple dedicated to goddess Hadrian has intricate detailing and life like figurines. A view of the surrounding ruins can be seen from the second level.
The Fountain Of Trajan?
It used to be an ornamental fountain, erected in honor of Emperor Trajan. The Corinthian pillars are still standing, however most of the fountain is in ruins.
Pleased To Appease – Memmius Monument
Memmius, was a prominent citizen of Ephesus. He had to please the Roman officials, so it was decided to build this monument to celebrate a victory of the Romans in battle.
The Temple Of Domitian In Domitian Square
History is sketchy about the background. The temple was erected in honour of Emperor Titus or Emperor Domitian.
The Iconic Library Of Celsus
At the end of Curetes street stands the grand library of Celsus. It was built by a wealthy Roman named Celsus.
Around 12000 scrolls were stored here inviting scholars from around the world do their study and research. The library faces the east, so that there was adequate light for reading.
Blood And Gore At The Great Theatre
A capacity to seat around 25000 people, the great theatre was possibly the world’s largest at the time.
It was initially used for theatre and music; however, the Romans introduced the popular sport of man vs wild.
The cascading steps lead to an open space for combats and contests.
I could imagine a cheering and jeering crowd demanding for blood and gore as gladiators engaged in bloody fights for survival and victory with beasts and other gladiators.
Are you thinking of Russel Crowe right now? 🙂
The Shopping District – Marble Road
The luxurious lifestyle of Ephesus allowed for a road made of marble slabs instead of regular stone.
Only carriages were allowed here. Mark Antony and Cleopatra were often seen with their carriages and entourage.
The Marble road connected the Library of Celsus with the Great Theatre. This road was also known for its shops and brothels.
A marble slab with a footprint is clearly visible at the intersection of Marble Road and Curetes Street. It could be an advertisement for a brothel or shopping.
In Addition To Ephesus…
An early morning visit to the House of Mary makes for a great start to your visit to Ephesus. It is located just before the ruins and can be done in an hour.
Discovering Serenity In The House Of Mary
A visit to the chapel was a serene discovery before we visited the ruins.
The autumn leaves rustled and danced in the cool breeze, as we ascended, towards the stone chapel.
Prayer notes were being tied on a wall overflowing with several such letters to Mary. Cool healing waters from a natural spring were being filled in bottles as pilgrims took some of it back home.
The Twin Towns Of Selcuk And Kusadasi
A day trip to Ephesus can be attempted. However, it is recommended to spend a night in one of the towns – Selcuk or Kusadasi if you want to explore Ephesus as a slow traveler.
Savoring The Slow Life In Selcuk
Located at approx. 2 kms from Ephesus, Selcuk is the gateway to the ruins. Selcuk has a train station and the nearest airport is at Izmir approx 18 kms away.
The town exudes an old-world charm, where life is slow and the coffee is good. Quiet squares are surrounded by local cafes and shops. The aroma of freshly baked bread beckons and the local produce vie for attention.
Kusadasi – A Beachside Getaway
Kusadasi is a modern, resort town with dedicated beaches for women. After a long day at Ephesus, travelers relax at the water side and enjoy the sunset views.
In addition, Kusadasi continues to be a port of call for cruise ships. Located approx. 30 Kms away, tourists disembark for a day tour to Ephesus.
While Turkey has a variety of regional cuisines, here is a teaser.
Turkish tea and coffee are generously offered everywhere.
Pomegranate juice is found at most street corners. It makes for a refreshing drink on a hot day.
Simit is the local bread had for breakfast. It is similar to the bagel.
And how can I skip Doner kebab 🙂
What’s old collaspes, times change, And new life blossoms in the ruins – Friedrich Schiller