Our next adventure led us to the enchanting city of Ephesus in Turkey, a place steeped in rich history and captivating ancient ruins. As we ventured through its hallowed grounds, we couldn’t help but be awe-struck by the remnants of a bygone era and the stories they whispered.
Established by Lyssimachos, one of Alexander the Great’s generals, Ephesus traces its origins back to the 10th century B.C. The city, built mostly with marble sourced from quarries nearby, bore witness to the footprints of legendary figures such as the apostle Peter, John, the Virgin Mary, and Mary Magdalene. Walking along the marble road, made of pure marble and which has defied the test of time, we marveled at the knowledge that we were treading the same path as these historical icons. Just outside the decaying city, we passed by the alleged house of Mary Magdalene, a poignant reminder of the lives that were once intertwined with these ancient streets.
Every corner of Ephesus held a treasure trove of ancient ruins, showcasing stunning statues, intricate mosaics, and breathtaking architecture. Shown above is the colosseum, also known as the “Great Theater,” which stood as a witness to the Apostle Paul’s attempt to address the Ephesians. Denied the opportunity to speak within the venue, he instead shared his message from a smaller forum across the street. While historical accounts may vary, the locals regaled us with this tale rooted in ancient oral tradition.
Journeying along the Arcadian Way, first built during the Hellenistic Ages by the Romans to link the harbor to the main city center, and now a ceremonial road, we marveled at its significance. The path led us to magnificent landmarks such as the Great Theater and the Celsus Library, transporting us back to a time of grandeur and intellectual enlightenment. Exploring the open-air archaeological excavations of Ephesus, we were humbled by the magnificence of this ancient city, unraveled before our eyes.
During our exploration, we had the privilege of entering two grand terrace houses in Ephesus, revealing mosaic floors that bore witness to the Roman Imperial period in Western Turkey. These meticulously crafted artworks, dating from the early first century to the mid-third century AD, showcased intricate geometric patterns created with small black and white stones, reminiscent of similar styles found in Italy. The mosaics depicted vivid figurative scenes, including Greek gods like Triton and the sea nymph Nereids, as well as Dionysos and Medusa. One particularly striking mosaic portrayed a majestic lion. The preservation of these ancient mosaics left us in awe of the artistic skills and vision of the past.
After immersing ourselves in the wonders of Ephesus, we made our way back to the bustling harbor. There, we encountered carpet weavers, skillfully crafting Turkish rugs using traditional methods. Observing their intricate work was a testament to the artistry and craftsmanship that has been passed down through generations. Passing by modern establishments like McDonald’s and shops offering “genuine fake watches,” we decided to delve into the local culinary scene. A visit to a nearby bakery introduced us to baslama, a delectable Turkish flatbread. The experience culminated in savoring the rich aroma and distinct flavor of Turkish coffee, paired with a delightful assortment of fresh baklava, Tulumba Tatlisi (fried dough with syrup), and lokum (Turkish Delight). As the day drew to a close, we embraced the peaceful ambiance of the harbor, basking in the warmth of the Turkish weather and watching the graceful movements of the stray cats.
This cheesy welcoming committee greeted us with a dance and play routine just outside our ships dock…
Ephesus, with its timeless allure and fascinating historical heritage, is a destination that transports visitors to an era long past. Its ancient marvels, vibrant culture, and gastronomic delights create an unforgettable journey through time, leaving indelible memories of a place where history comes alive.
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