Friday, May 24, 2013

Ephesus, Pamukkale, Aphrodisias

Upon returning to Turkey after two great weeks in Europe we headed down the Aegean Sea coast to the famous ruins of Ephesus, an ancient site with settlements dating back to 6000 B.C. One of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World (The Temple of Artemis) was built there by the Greeks in the 6th century B.C. and then subsequently burned down by a lunatic in the 4th century B.C. How one goes about burning down a marble temple is beyond me. Around the same time Alexander the Great conquered the city and it continued to prosper with an estimated population of 250,000 at it's peak in the 1st century A.D. Some of the most iconic early Christians lived in the city including Apostles Paul and John and possibly even the Virgin Mary.

The ruins are only 15% excavated and in condition of various degree but there are more than enough to imagine the city full of toga clad citizens walking the white marble streets on their way to a Greek drama, gladiator competition, or sculpture carving class. Since the personnel didn't seem overly concerned about what we did after paying our entrance fee we were able to roam around freely and explore the current excavation sites including a 4th century church dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It took us a good four hours to walk the ruins which culminated with an incredible 25,000 seat theatre.

We heard about some hot springs with ruins at the bottom of the thermal pool that you can swim around so we decided we had to make a detour inland to bath in the awesomeness. The Antique Pool was built for Cleopatra as a gift from Marc Anthony but an earthquake destroyed the surrounding structure. Gleaming white columns litter the bottom of the pool and small bubbles from the sodium bicarbonate water tickle your skin. We felt like royalty as we bathed the day away.

The ancient Greek ruins of Aphrodisias was all that stood between us and the Mediterranian coast but since they were said to be on par with Ephesus only without the crowds we figured we had to check it out. It was an eerie feeling walking around the overgrown ruins of the Temple of Aphrodite. I was half expecting to hear the creepy laugher of a Wheeler from behind one of the crumbling columns (sorry, a Return to Oz reference). The oval 25,000 capacity stadium still had the gladiator tunnels intact. Sitting on the marble benches staring at the poppy filled field I could almost hear a blood thirsty crowd cheering on a brave gladiator.

No comments:

Post a Comment