Travel with me #84 : The Ancient City of Ephesus
Greetings Steemit friends:
In this edition of Travel with me, we'll be departing from the gateway between Europe and Asia that is Istanbul and making our way to a tiny little town in the far west of Turkey just a few kilometres from the coast bordering with the Aegean Sea. The town of choice is Selçuk, although modest in size, it is actually one of the most visited towns in all of Turkey because of it's proximity to the ancient city Ephesus.
As you can see from the map, travelling from Istanbul to Selçuk is actually quite some distance. The rail network is sparsely accommodating and would take you on a fairly long detour with many long waits in between so I would not recommend it.
Should you choose to take a coach, then expect a 9 hour overnight journey which might prove to be uncomfortable but a cheaper option.
On the other hand, taking a domestic flight to Izmir and then catching a short train journey to Selçuk is the quickest albeit more expensive option. To ease your mind over the costly sounding journey, you can expect to pay around 50 dollars for the plane and train ticket and save yourself around 4 to 5 hours compared to taking the coach.
Once you arrive in Selçuk, it is then a 5 minute drive from the town centre to Ephesus for which you will have two entrances to choose from.
The North Entrance which starts at the The Bath of Varius.
The South Entrance which starts with The Theatre
Other than seeing the sites in opposite orders, the only difference between the entrances come down to your preference of going up-hill or down-hill.
At this time of year, the temperatures at midday can reach 45°C. There is very little shade from the blistering sunshine. The sensible option would be to save your energy of climbing up a hill and start at the northern entrance.
If possible, I would even recommend coming in the late afternoon when the heat subsides, I made the mistake of coming right in the middle of noon and paid the price of getting a little heat stroke.
Ephesus is known as one of the best-preserved classical cities on the eastern Mediterranean and is an ideal place to stroll back in time and enjoy the atmosphere of life in Hellenistic and Roman times. It was once considered a commercial centre rivalling the infamous Alexandria.
Today, the city has done well to stand the test of time and there are many structures that remain mostly intact.
Walking along the "streets" of Ephesus, you can imagine the people of ancient times with their old carts trundling through the streets all those centuries ago.
Certainly, there is a strong sense of timelessness as you walk around.
Although almost all the buildings and temples have now collapsed, many of the pillars remain standing today. They now serve as markers for the perimeters of the buildings that once stood there.
The pillars at the front are the remains of The Temples of Dea Roma and Divus Julius. This was a temple erected in the 1st century for use by the Imperial Cult - a religious sect which never became truly recognised. Originally it was formed as a mission to unite the various religions amongst the people of the city.
Just behind the front pillars, you can see the remains of The Prytaneion which was the administrative building or city hall. This would have been used for welcoming visitors of the state, as well as meetings between officials.
This is the Memmius Monument, a sizeable memorial dedicated to Memmius son of Caius and grandson of Sulla.
I believe the partially intact stone statue on the side is of Memmius.
In the distance, you can make out the two pillars which would have been the entrance to The Domitian Temple. This temple was believed to be the first temple of the cult of emperors in Ephesus.
As required in all cities, ancient or modern, our long time cat companions. This was just one of the many cats I saw snoozing in the shade, hiding from the blistering heat. I do wonder whether the cats around here could trace their family tree all the way back to the ancient times. A passing thought!
All around, we see some really detailed excavations of some historical figures, or mythic legends.
This is the Greek goddess of Victory - Nike!
She is often called the Winged Goddess for obvious reasons!
As shown by the sign-post, the Odeon was used as a concert hall theatre, but actually had a second function as the Bouleterion (Senate House). Here, the senate and advisory council of the city would congregate and discuss city matters.
Theatres built by the ancient Greeks and ancient Romans were usually semi-circles, aside from congregational meetings, they were also used for performances. This is in contrast to the Amphitheatres which were used for Gladiator combats and were fully circular in shape.
Further along from the Odeon, we reach Curetes Street which starts with the Hercules Gate, and ends at the Celsus Library.
The Curetes Street would have had fountains, monuments, statues and shops on either sides. Even when the city was still inhabited in the ancient times, earthquakes were frequent and as a result, many of the structures on the street were damaged.
These were some of the houses people used to live in.
This is a closer look at the Domitian Temple. Parts of a huge statue were excavated and thought to be that of the Emperor Domitian.
The Nymphaeum of Trajan. This was a two story building which was built in honour of the Roman Emperor Trajan. The building had it's own private pool with water cascading from beneath a statue of the emperor.
The Hadrian Temple
The Terrace Houses
These were the dwellings of the rich people of Ephesus. The pictures below show many of the houses to be three stories tall, and many had their own courtyards. Interestingly, most of the rooms were without windows.
On the ground, there are intricate mosaics of mythological scenes.
It's hard to believe, but aside from these private houses being furnished to the highest standard, they were also fitted with fountains and even "central heating"!
The Celsus Library
As you can see, it is situated at the end of the Curetes Street and is one of the most complete structures left standing in Ephesus.
The Celsus Library was the third largest library in the ancient world and was built by Gaius Julius Aquila as a tribute memorial to his father, Gaius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus.
To this day, the sarcophagus of Celsus lies in the crypt beneath the building.
After around three hours, we finally make it to the last structure, but as they say, "last but not least" we have The Theatre. One of the most impressive buildings in Ephesus. Originally a Hellenistic theatre, it was later restored into a Roman style and could seat over 24,000 people.
Believe it or not, the population of Ephesus once stood at a staggering ~250,000. As such, it became the capital of the province of Asia Minor.
Such a theatre would have been used for performances but also demonstrations of social, political and economical nature. It was also frequently used for gladiator games in the Roman times.
The theatre was originally two stories in height and was further heightened by the Romans at a later date.
Notice how the theatre leans on the side of a hill, this is how theatres were built in the Hellenistic period. It was the Romans who later invented free standing walls and thus the emergence of theatres which did not lean on the side of a hill.
By this point, I was extremely exhausted but an obligatory snap from the top of the steps to show just how big the theatre is was a necessary evil. I hope you enjoy the view!
Check out my video for some extra clips!
During my visit to Ephesus, I was approached by a very friendly German man who was interested in where I blog. He even asked me for my card! I realise I should probably get some Steemit cards to hand out but in the meantime I directed him to Steemit and hopefully he'll be interested in signing up!
Thank you for taking this tour of The Ancient City of Ephesus with me. I hope you enjoyed working your imagination in recreating the atmosphere of this ancient metropolis and at the same time picked up some interesting historical facts that perhaps you didn't know before!
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