” The largest excavated Greco-Roman city in the world, Ephesus was, like many other Anatolian cities, a cradle first of Greek and then of Roman civilization. Although only 10% of the city has been excavated, enough survives of its magnificent buildings for you to get a real sense of what an old Roman town would have looked like”. – 101 Must See Places in Turkey
Those sentences right there sum up the whole reason why Ephesus has grown to international fame – and why I was soooo excited to visit as well!
Although we were about to go visit Ephesus on a hot Saturday knowing the site would be packed with tourists – we were ready for an adventure and finally get the chance to be in that city!
Ever since I was little and first started having an interest in history, I had come to know about Ephesus – and how incredible it is.
Our adventure started off by going into the huge amphitheater – a place where nearly 24.000 people could sit and enjoy shows.
Since Ephesus was once right on the sea, people coming in from the harbor would see the amphitheater before anything else in the city. It was built there on purpose to impress visitors – it surely impressed me!
Then the moment had arrived to go see the famous CELSUS LIBRARY! The facade was reconstructed by Austrian archaeologists in the 1970s and it is said that they took so many artifacts that they could create their own Ephesus Museum in the Hofburg Palace!
I wonder where all these artifacts are now? How many beautiful statues of gods and emperors are now lost forever, pushed aside or in places where nobody appreciates their value, or knows they are originals.
The library exceeded my expectations by far! It was very well reconstructed and looked almost original! To stand directly underneath it and look up was an incredible thing to do – it put everything in a different perspective.
Since many sites don’t have buildings that you can walk under, here you get a real feel of what it was like walking through Roman doorways and rooms.
We later hiked the streets of Ephesus and saw all the different buildings from baths to temples to churches that once used to be part of the main center of Ephesus.
The stones remaining from a distant past stand firmly under my feet as I step on them, strolling down the Procession Way out of the city towards the sacred temple of the town.
Other stones sit on the side of the road, looking up at visitors as they pay no attention to them, remembering their glory days when they were part of a greater building that filled the sky and they could look down at people as they walked underneath them.
Columns still standing hold on tight to their bases, slowly sliding or crumbling. Carvings on the columns slowly fade away, with every touch from a tourist that is curious enough to feel them and see what their symbols could mean.
Having survived through storms and battles, mosaics on the sides of the streets lay on the ground, their colors still as bright as they once must have been. Their patterns weave in and out of circles and squares, creating intricate designs – their colors fading from red to gray, some stones lost forever, but the pattern remains.
As I wandered through this ancient town, I imagined these scenes of the past:
Screams and shouts are heard as the Ephesians rush through the streets, weaving in and out, avoiding carts and horses and stray animals (and their droppings!) as they go about their day. Roman generals trot down the street with their big horses and soldiers encircling to protect them and the locals turn away as the general passes, still sad and angry at the Romans who came and conquered their town.
Children run in and out of columns, they live on the streets by themselves, their parents either lost in battle, or died at the then old age of 40. Famous philosophers chat with locals and officials – telling them about their most recent discovery of their trip over to Greece.
Ephesus is also very important biblically – Paul lived in Ephesus for three years and converted many to Christianity. John brought Mary to Ephesus trying to run away from persecution by King Herod in Israel.
I could just picture them all walking through the streets – Paul preaching the gospel to every person he encountered – not afraid to stand out from the crowd, and Mary and John doing the complete opposite – trying to blend in with the masses and avoid persecution.
Before Christianity became the official religion with the Edict of Thessalonica in 380 AD, the citizens worshipped the Roman gods, in particular Artemis, who was the main goddess of the city. In her honor a temple was built – a temple so big it was the largest of the Ancient World!
We visited the Temple of Artemis, but unfortunately there was nothing left except a column and some other stones. The majority of the stones of the temple were used to make the nearby Selçuk Castle – some were even brought all the way to Istanbul to build the Hagia Sofia!
Ephesus was so much better than I expected it to be! Barely any crowds, and incredible ruins! Although some things were reconstructed (I prefer having them just the way they were found) it was still fantastic! Thanks again Ephesus! Hope to see you soon.
Ciao , Kait