Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Ephesus, Selcuk

Alex at the Library of Celsus, in Ephesus
 Everyone who goes to Turkey makes the trek to Ephesus.  This site was originally an Ancient Greek city, then a major Roman city, and 4 devastating earthquakes later was evenutally abandoned.

At one point this city was the 2nd largest in the world and housed the 2nd largest library in the world, the ruins of which Alex is standing in front of.

Alex had been before, but in the decade since his original visit a lot has changed.  There is now a major archaeological restoration project at the terrace houses which you can walk through, for an extra fee.*
The terrace houses were a network of several homes built on a hill which have been painstakingly reconstructed.  The floorplans are clearly visible, as are some detailed mosaics and frescoes.  The reconstruction is still in process and its also interesting to watch the archaeologists work.

Another important building at Ephesus was the Temple of Artemis.  The statues of the goddess are now in the Archaeology Museum in Selcuk.  The statues are an interesting amalgam of beliefs, featuring bees (a symbol of the region), what are possibly bull testicles (or eggs, or breasts, or ____), zodiac symbols, etc etc.  The museum is worth going to, especially as any visit to Ephesus likely requires a night stay in Selcuk.

Selcuk is a small town whose claim to faim is its proximity to Ephesus, as well as the tomb of St. John and what is possibly the dying-place of the Virgin Mary.  You'd think with all the important Christian, Roman and Greek sites that the Christian church would have a huge presence or archaeologists would overrun the town or, at the very least, some tourist companies would lord over the area.

Nope.  The CRANES run this town.
Small groups of beautiful large cranes have nested on all the best spots in town, including tops of crumbling aqueducts, mosques, and the amplitheater at Ephesus.  It's their world, we're just passing through it.

*Something important to note about travel in Turkey.  Whenever there's an additional charge to see something at a site (eg. the Sultan's Harem at Topkapi palace, the Dark Chapel at Goreme, the Terrace Houses at Ephesus), PAY IT.  We were incredulous at first (an extra 15 lira after paying 20 already?) but each time its been more than worth it.  Yeah its still tourism robbery, but if you don't suck it up you'll miss the best stuff!

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