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Turkey: Bodrum, Dalyan, Ephesus, Gulf of Gokova, Istanbul
Ephesus, Turkey: The ancient city
by Prakash Bang, Editor in Chief
30 kms. from Kusadasi, the ancient city of Ephesus was one of the most important ports and a trading center of the ancient world. It was also a religious centre of early Christianity. Today, the grandeur of the old world can only be imagined by observing the ruins... some of them well preserved. Once the Greeks and Romans marked the marbled pathways; today there are the footprints of tourists from around the modern world.
I was in Turkey to sail the Gulf of Gokova. After 7 days of sailing the blue waters, we anchored for one last time at Bodrum. After breakfast, we left for Ephesus which was a 3-hour drive from the Bodrum Harbour. Ephesus can be connected with airports at Bodrum or Izmir.
Our first stop was at the House of Virgin Mary. Located on the top of the 'Bulbul' mountain 9 km ahead of Ephesus, the shrine of Virgin Mary enjoys a marvelous atmosphere hidden in the green. It is the place where Mary may have spent her last days. Indeed, she may have come in the area together with Saint John, who spent several years in the area to spread Christianity. The house of Virgin Mary is a typical Roman architectural example, entirely made of stones. In the 4th century AD, a church, combining her house and grave, was built. The original two-storey house consisted of an anteroom (where today candles are proposed), bedroom and praying room (Christian church area) and a room with fireplace (chapel for Muslims). A front kitchen fell into ruins and has been restored in 1940s. Today, only the central part and a room on the right of the altar are open to visitors. From there one can understand that this building looks more like a church than a house. Visitors write their wish on a piece of paper and hang it on a wall. It is believed that the wishes come true. So be it.
After spending about 30 minutes at the House of Virgin Mary, we made a short visit to a carpet making factory. Managed by an NGO to give employment to the local artisans, we went through the motions of drawing of silk from the cocoons, creation of knots on the handloom and the final finishing. The showroom was a massive one with hundreds of varieties of carpets and rugs, costing from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars. The handmade carpets last for generations, so were we told.
After the visit to the facilities, our next stop was at the gates of Ephesus. Make it a point to alight at the top end of the ancient city. That way you would walk downhill to explore the location. It’s a one mile walk. Do carry a hat and water with you. They will come in handy.
In the year of 10 BC, Androclos, the son of King of Athens-Kodros, was searching a location for establishing a site. Androclos, belonged to Akhas, was running from the Dor invasion in Greece. He was leading one of the migration convoys. It was predicted by an Apollon oracle that a fish and a boar would show the location of the new settlement. Days later, parallel to the oracle’s prediction, while frying, a fish fell down from the pan, irritating a hiding boar behind the bushes. The feared boar escaped immediately. Androclos followed the boar and established the city of Ephesus, where he had killed the boar. When Androclos died in the wars with Carians, a mausoleum was built to the memory of the first king of Ephesus. The mausoleum is considered to be placed around "The Gate of Magnesia".
Ephesus was ruled by the Lydian king, Kreisos, in the mid 6 BC. The city reached the "Golden Age" and became a good model to the Antic World in culture and art. As the detailed excavations have not completed yet, apart from the Artemis, the remains of that age haven’t been revealed.
Later, Ephesus was dominated by Persians. As Ephesians did not join the "Ionian Rebellion" against Persians, the city was saved from destruction. The rebellion resulted in the loss of Persians. Alexander the Great won Persians and the Ionian cities got their independence in the year 334 BC. Ephesus was in great prosperity during the times of Alexander the Great. Until the arrival of Alexander the Great, Ephesus consisted of two governing systems, democratic and oligarchic. But the oligarchic system was violated with the coming of a new ruler, and a rebellion existed in Ephesus.
The Temple of Artemis was fired and destroyed by the supporters of oligarchy in 356 BC. But it is believed that a madman known as Herostratus set fire to the temple in order to make his name immortal. On the same night in Macedonia, Alexander the Great was born. As the temple became unusable, Alexander the Great proposed for repairing. But the Ephesians delicately refused for the reason that "A God cannot build a temple for another God”. So Alexander who was very proud of himself as a God, gave some special privileges to the city. An Ephesian architect, Dinocrates restored the Temple of Artemis.
After the death of Alexander the Great, Ephesus was ruled by his general Lysimakhos in 287 BC. Lysimakhos decided to change the prior location of Ephesus to further west, due to the destruction of the port by the alluviums, and the inhabitants were forced to settle in the new place named "Arsinoeina", the name of Lysimakhos’ wife. The city was surrounded by stone walls in and, "Arsinoeina" was changed into "Ephesus" again!
Ephesus was controlled by the Romans in 190 BC. The city was given to the Bergamian kings for a time. With the death of King Attalos 3 in 133 BC, the city was re-ruled by the Romans. Ephesus reached to its height and was notorious for its wealth and luxury from 1AD to 4AD, especially during the reign of Augustus. During the period, the population of Ephesus increased to 225,000 and the city became the capital of the new Asia. By cleaning the river Caystros from the alluviums, the great trade port of Ephesus, a gateway to foreign countries, enriched the prosperity of the city and continued to thrive with commerce and culture.
Ephesus became a state of Seljukian in the year of 1090. For a time the city was held by Byzantine. In 1307 Seljukians controlled the city again. However, years later, the River Caystros was silted up, leaving the site far inland. Therefore, the city of Ephesus began losing its significance, due to the development of the ports of Izmir and Kusadasi.
By the time we reached the exit gate at the other end, it was 4PM. We drove to Kusadasi which would host us for the night. We were booked at Hotel Charisma Deluxe bang on the sea front. The rooms were well appointed. And the view from the rooms was fantastic; especially when the sun was setting.
That evening we had a dinner in local Turkish restaurant in downtown. The belly dancers kept us glued to our seat till about mid-night. The next morning we woke up at 3 to catch our flight to Istanbul from Izmir airport, which was an hour’s drive from Kusadasi.
Ephesus Image Gallery Photo viewer
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