Monday, January 27, 2014

Ephesus, Where the past and the present collide..

Visiting Ephesus was definitely the biggest wow moment of our entire stay in Turkey. We have visited ruins, but in no place did the stones come alive as they did in Ephesus. We arrive at Seluck, rested and ready to explore.

Our bus journey was filled with ancient tales, myths and legends. As we listen our guide tells us that Ephesus is believed to be the city of the seven sleepers. I am not going to bother about dates, may google take you to them, but the tale goes such. To escape Roman persecution, a group of seven christians hid in a cave in which they fell asleep only to awake from their slumber 180 years later. This cave is believed to be somewhere close to Ephesus and the tale also find mention in the Quran.
Ephesus is where the apostles Paul  and John are said to have lived. The testament of St John is also believed to have originated from here.

When we finally get to Ephesus, we see clumps of tourists standing around guides , like trees in a thicket. The place is no doubt busy.

Entering Ephesus

First Sights..

My eye is drawn in every which direction. There are boulders strewn and crumbling columns standing here and there. I spy an amphitheater in the distance.

Walking down the reconstructed street..
We finally stand at the entrance of a reconstructed street, a column of pillars stand on either side. Ephesus like most old cities has seen rulers come and go, chief among them the Greeks and the Romans. The architecture here is a legacy of their rule.

A fleet of stairs takes us to the Odeon. With a seating capacity of 1500, the odeon served two purposes. It not only was the place where concerts where staged but also where the senate met. With Grey stones neatly stacked drawing the eye to the center I can only imagine what this place must have looked like when the city was at its zenith.
The Odeion - The small theater..
Several pictures later , we walk along admiring the views the unfold. In a distance we can just begin to see the outline of the Celusus library. Built by Galius Julius Aquila, the library stands in memory of his father Gaius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus.

Celsus Library in the background..
As we walk along Ephesus's streets, the city is now ruled by cats. They seem to be everywhere, basking in the sun and brushing past our legs playfully as they walk by.

The cats that rule Ephesus..
The street leading up to the library is absolutely beautiful. Lined with columns, the Curetes street once had shops and buildings the remains of which stand in a heap of rubble.

Walking down to the Library of Celsus..

Some sort of an urn..

Engravings on Curates street..
Intricate patterns in mosaic line the street, the colours still bright inspite of withstanding the ravages of time. The street is absolutely gorgeous. The gate stretches all the way from the Gate of Hercules to the Celsus library and gets it's name form priests who were called Curetes.
Curetes street..
Off the street, are the public toilets of the time.
Entrance to the public toilets..

The Latriana - Public toilets of the time..
We walk by 'The Latriana',  public toilets of the time, neatly arranged with a square pool in the middle. Two cats sit basking in the gentle April sun, blinking at us as we pass by as if to say , we are tired of you nosy tourists.
The square pool..

We finally arrive at the library, spilling over with people, clearly the main attraction of Ephesus. This library is believed to have once held 12000 scrolls and is two storeys high. It is even more beautiful seen up front and though even though in ruin has a fragile beauty to it that makes me feel it might disappear any moment.

The library of Celsus..
We walk into the library. I am amazed at how beautifully this place has been preserved. We are at this moment standing in a monument which was built in 117 AD. It gives me goose bumps to think , that once this was the seat of knowledge, of books. If only some of them had survived.

Harbour Street..
Harbour street isn't as pretty as the one we just saw, but is no less interesting. One of the best things we saw there was a map indicating the location of the harbour, the brothel and the baths.
Map on Harbour Street..
Finally, finally we come to what I will always remember Ephesus by, the mighty amphitheater which is believed to have a eating capacity of 25000! It is absolutely gorgeous, beautifully preserved and stands there today a picture of peace , in complete contradiction  to the blood and gore that was once spilled inside these walls
The Theater..
It is incredible that the theater built in the 3rd century BC still stands today, a gory reminder of times gone past. Three storied, Excavations even uncovered the emperor's box!
Where the gladiators were housed before their fights..

We walk away turning back every few minuted to see the amphitheater , like an artist stepping away to see his masterpiece. Someone mentions that a gladiator's graveyard was unearthed here.

It is only at Ephesus that I begin to understand how much effort goes into archeological excavations. To see something that is brought alive from the dead and preserved for all to see is remarkable and is a tribute to all the archeologists who have painstakingly uncovered stone by living stone in this amazing place!

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