Tag Archives: Selçuk

Free from ideas

I love Jim’s perspective!


We visit the ruins at Ephesus and the Ephesus Museum in Selcuk, Turkey. We see images and objects dated from the 9th century BC.

The earliest deities were goddesses among hunting/gatherer societies. Scholars note that male deities became more prevalent with the domestication of animals and agriculture. Farming includes defending your land if attacked. Large animals and warfare require upper body strength, making men feel valued — by male gods.

An exibit portrays three goddesses: Ana Tanrica (mother goddess — Paleolithic), Kubaba (9th cen. BC), and Kybele (6th cen. BC). There are universal features within goddess worship — woman magic, earth magic, fertility, childbirth.


We see examples and I gather information from the internet. One story describes Kubaba as a woman who brewed ale to sell commercially (such women existed.) The Sumarian King Marduk favored her and put her in charge of his empire. She did well. When she died…

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Selçuk to Pamukkale

12/11 – So long, Selçuk! We loved your ruins and your Roman aquaduct still standing in the middle of town.




We loved your little museum that showed what Ephesus looked like in its prime, and that jewelry hasn’t changed much in 4000 years.


We loved your town square filled with old men sipping tea and playing cards and Okey from morning ’til night.image

We weren’t so crazy about your pension with spotty wifi and no hot water…

This morning we walked down to the bus station to catch the 9am dolmus to
Pamukkale. There are several different bus companies in competition – one offers free wifi, one offers a free cup of tea enroute. We got a quote of 30 lira from one, and 35 from another, and haggling commenced. We were entering one ticket office when a guy swooped in and said he was a friend of the guy in the office, who really wanted us to take his bus instead.

We eventually got on a mini bus with a small tour group on their way to Pamukkale. We got to hear the tour guide’s patter for free during the three hour ride. Did you know there is no such thing as a green olive tree and a black olive tree? Pick in September to get green olives, and in December to get black! The first press of the olives gives you the virgin olive oil, the second press gives you oil to make soaps and hand creams, then you gather up the pits and sell them for fuel – they burn cleaner than charcoal. Who knew?

By afternoon, we were in Pamukkale, eating kebabs with shoes off, Turkish style, in a local restaurant, with a local cat to keep us company.

Sorry to say, we did not order the lamb chomps!image

Pamukkale is where tourists flock in the warmer months to bathe in the hot springs and walk on the calcium carbonate travertine. We will certainly do some of that, but are here for another reason as well. In 2011, the martyrion and tomb of the Apostle Philip was uncovered here in the excavations of the ancient city of Hierapolis. Now (you may be saying) didn’t we already see the tomb of Philip in Rome? Well, yes we did. The Church of the Apostles claims to host the remains of both Philip and James the Just, and commemorates them both in a single tomb. But if the original tomb of Philip is here, we intend to see it tomorrow!


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.imageimage

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.imageimageimage

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.image

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!image

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!

Selçuk – the Castle and the Goddess

12/8 – Selçuk is a small town with a lot of history. Just past St John’s Church is a castle fortress at the top of the hill, built in the 6th century, also being restored.





The views down the mountainside were beautiful.





Walking down the hill, we came across the ancient Isa Bey Public Baths .


We were on our way to see the one standing column of the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. This site is where artifacts were found from the 14th century BCE. Sure enough, there is only one column standing from this Ancient Greek temple, and the column has been reassembled from bits that don’t look like they really belong together:

Behind the column, you can see the Isa Bey Mosque, the Church of St. John, and the Castle, all in one shot.

Here are two statues of Artemis from the Selçuk Museum. Those are bull testicles hanging around her neck:image


Couldn’t resist the classic tourist snap!

Istanbul to Selçuk

12/6 – With heavy hearts, we packed up this morning for our last day in Istanbul. We ate one final lunch at our favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurant, and bade farewell to our pension hosts. We gazed at the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia one more time, on our way north to the ferry terminal. When we step onto the ferry at Eminönü, we will officially be leaving Europe. IMG_5094

The ferry took just 15 minutes to cross the Bosphorus, and when we stepped off the gangplank in Kadikoy, we were in Asia. It was still Istanbul, but it is the start of the next chapter in our journey.IMG_5110

It took us a little while to find the 16D bus that would take us to the Pendik station 25 Kms east of Istanbul. We had originally planned to take the Metro until the end, then a short bus ride to the train station, but two Information Desk folks suggested that this one bus would get us all the way there.

This info was correct, but it was a two and a half hour ordeal in a double decker local bus that stopped on every corner, and tested human ability to squeeze together in tight spaces. I was trying to see the names of the bus stops, a futile effort, so we would know where to get off. Eventually, I asked a young girl if she would let us know when we reached the right stop. Although she had no English, and my Turkish is not improving, she understood and agreed.

We reached Pendik around dusk and went in search of food. A chicken donar sandwich that cost 5 tl in Istanbul only costs 2 tl here, and comes with a complimentary container of Ayran, the salty yogurt drink so popular here. I’m slowly developing a taste for Ayran… We ate and bought fruit and snacks for tomorrow.

The Pendik to Eskisehir train was a new, high speed deal that only made a few stops. We left at 19:20 and arrived at 21:50. We waited on the platform for our next train, which was due at 22:25. We met an American couple from Maine and their lovely 9 year old daughter Florence, who were visiting Turkey for six weeks.

This sleeper train was a real step up – the compartment was just for the two of us, and contained a table, a sink, real towels, and a fridge with water, sour cherry juice, pretzels and chocolate bars. Our upper and lower bunks (Jim took the upper) were already made up and ready. We gratefully collapsed into bed and got a pretty good night’s sleep.

After our fruit and chocolate breakfast, we reached Izmir at 10am. We then took a local train to the Havalimani Airport stop, where we bought a ticket for the 11:45 Dinizili train that will take us to Selçuk. That train took about an hour, and was another testament to people’s ability to squeeze together. We had to stand cheek to jowl the whole way, and fight our way off the train.

But we made it! So, after 24 hours of traveling, we are here, a stone’s throw from the ruins of Ephesus, some dating back to fourteen centuries BCE. The temperature is back in the 60s, and citrus and olive trees grow on the Main Street. Life is good!imageimageimage