Welcome to The Roman City of Ephesus
My first Turkey’s trip made me a bit exhausted and also happy in the same time. There were little time I had but a lot of places need to be seen. Ephesus became my last trip after spending the last six days in Istanbul, Cappadocia and Pamukkale. This kind of trip took my energy so much and it made me sleep immediately once I arrived in other destination.
So, here I am, sitting in my hotel room in Kusadasi while eating some kebabs I order through the room service while trying to write an e-mail to my best friend, telling him about adventures I had in the last few days. The hotel where I stayed was good and has big swimming pool in its backyard. Yet, after having 6 exhausted days I was not sure that swimming would be my choice.
I didn’t get breakfast in the next day. It was not because the hotel did not provide one, but because I even had no time to put something into my mouth. I was late. I waked 15 minutes before Burak (our tour guide) came to pick me. I should thank the hotel receptionist for giving me reminding call. I was panicked like a hell. Unlike other tour, there were more people with me during this tour. Instead of using van, we used bus that could accommodate more people all at once.
Our first stop was Isa Bey Mosque in Selcuk, Izmir. It was constructed in 1374 and well known as one of the most impressive architecture art remaining from the Anatolian Beyliks. It was planed based on the Great Mosque in Damascus with two entrances, at the west and the East side. Unlike the other mosques in Turkey which dominated by minarets, the style of Isa Bey Mosque is a bit different. It shapes asymmetrically where the location of doors, windows and domes are not the same, and the columns inside the mosques were taken from ruins in Ephesus.
Our main purpose to visit Ephesus was almost cancelled due to some cruising groups were also coming all at once. On our way to Ephesus, Burak kept calling his colleagues in the site, asked possibilities for our group to enter the site safely due to the large crowds. At the end of the day, we could took a deep breath after Burak informed us that everything is under control and we are able to enter the site.
Ephesus was the ancient Greek city and became Roman city in 133 BC which is famous with its Temple of Artemis and recognized as one of UNESCO heritages and the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It also attracted Christian settlers in the AD 50s and became major Roman city and one of the most important one after Rome. There were approximately 400.000 inhabitants in 100 AD within the city, made it as the largest Roman city in Asia. Celcus Library was known as the third largest library in ancient world, after Alexandria and Pegamon. I couldn’t believe myself seeing how the city was constructed thousand years ago, with organized street lines, public latrines and public places, including brothel located right in front of the library.
People were abundant, and Burak worked so hard trying not to loose any of us during the visit. Due to the large crowds, I personally couldn’t enjoy that much his explanation about the history of Ephesus, instead, I gave myself more time to take some photos in some corners of the city, where I met another female solo traveler from Iraq named Asil who became my friend for the whole trip. There were not only about Roman Ruins in Ephesus, the visitors were also entertained by Gladiator performance presented by local artists.
After lunch, Burak took us to the House of Virgin Mary. It’s located on the top of Bulbul mountain, where the house was believed as the place where Mary spent her last days in world. The house itself was built of stones as typical Roman architecture. Today, only the altar and central part of the house that are opened for visitors, a sign that this house looks more like a church than a house. This place is also visited by Muslims who recognize Mary or Maryam as the mother of Isa, one of prophets in Islam religion.
I didn’t take some photos inside the church since when I entered the room, I saw some women bending on their knees, singing solemnly and reciting some prays. Respecting their privacy in praying, I left the room quietly and went to other part of the house. What was most attracting my eyes was prayers wall where thousands of scraps of paper hung there contains of prays of visitors.
The last stop was Ephesus Archaeological museum. After seeing all Roman ruins in its real places, seeing these ruins inside the museum looked less interesting to me. Shopping was always part of agenda when you’re traveling with the tour group. This time, Burak took us to carpet factories where most of the carpets are handmade, and of course they are expensive. I didn’t even dare to ask how much it is.
It was almost six pm, when all tours were completed. Burak dropped me back to my hotel in Kusadasi where I was transferred to the bus station in one hour. I met Yuan again, and again, after hearing her stories (her tour did not include Isa Bey Mosque and Ephesus Archaeology Museum in their itinerary), I was so grateful to have Umut for arranging my perfect trips.