12/9 – Guess what? When St. Paul wrote a letter to the Ephesians, where do you think it was delivered? Right here to Ephesus! Today we took a minibus (dolmus) about 4km down the road to see the ruins at Ephesus. This is why most visitors come to Selçuk.
Ephesus was a huge, bustling harbor city back in the eighth century BCE, the capital of Asia Minor. Emperors had temples built to honor themselves here. The rich and famous lived here, and invested lots of marble and silver coins into making this a showplace. Then the harbor silted up and big ships no longer stopped here. Over time, and with the assistance of several earthquakes, the city was abandoned. For the last century, archeologists have been trying to reconstruct Ephesus, while hauling away any good bits back to museums in their own countries. The British built railroads and the Germans built highways in exchange for hauling away the best stuff. Modern Turkey is trying to get some of their stuff back, but not having much luck.
Here’s what’s left of the main street heading down toward the harbor:
There was a huge theatre that held 20,000 people for dramatic performances and community meetings. The acoustics are still very good, as demonstrated by members of several tour groups who couldn’t resist bursting into song. Here, the decision to exile the Apostle John was announced.
The showpiece of the ruins is the Celsus Library, erected in the year 110, and re-erected in the 1970s, thanks to the Austrians. It has more than one story intact, and four statues on the ground level depicting Wisdom, Knowledge, Thought, and Virtue. (Actually, these are copies of the statues – the originals were hauled off to Vienna.) The library once held 12,000 scrolls, and the walls behind the shelves were hollow to reduce moisture.
Lots of buildings and gates being pieced back together:
Here is the Goddess Nike. We overheard a tour guide calling her the Goddess of Shoes.
Any ancient metropolis worth its salt had a good plumbing and aquaduct system. We stopped by the public latrines – marble seats, but not much privacy!
The Church of Mary, with its cruciform baptistery and large fountain:
As we’ve seen everywhere in Turkey, lots of cats live here. Jim and I both got scratched by cuddly felines who thought they should have some of our lunch.
A brilliant day!