Friday, November 13, 2009

Kusadasi (Ephesus), Turkey November 13, 2009

We arrived in Kusadasi, Turkey (Ephesus) at 8 AM after leaving Mykonos Island, Greece, at 6 PM last night. I sat on the balcony in the morning chill and watched as our captain docked the ship. We are docked directly beside a smaller Princess ship, the Royal Princess. So the view off our stateroom balcony is the sign and the logo of that ship.

Jim was sleeping in, so I went up to the buffet and ate a bowl of cereal; then I went up to decks 15 and 16 and took some pics from both sides and from the back of the ship. From those decks one can look down onto the top decks and pools of the Royal Princess.

We got off the ship and walked into Kusadasi and looked around. We didn't buy much - a few bookmarks and a change purse. The shop-owners are very aggressive here, and you have to be absolutely rude to keep from being dragged into each shop. The big items are leather goods, woven items such as towels, wraps, etc., jewelry and carpets - none of which are items on my wish list.

We came back to the ship to rest up a little and get a bite to eat before our tour of Ephesus.

Our tour was excellent! Our guide, Volca, was knowledgable and entertaining. He kept up a good pace but always waited until the group was together to begin talking. He seemed much more aware of his group than some guides do - talking louder if he could tell it was needed, pausing if someone was late getting to the group, ad-libbing when it was needed.

Among some of the most interesting things we saw were: the theatre in which St. Paul preached, as recorded in Acts 17; the prison in which he was held for his protection when citizens objected to his preaching there; the house where he lived and where he took Mary, the mother of Jesus, to live with him after Jesus commended her into his care.

We saw all the things that we had hoped to see and learned a few extra facts. For example, I didn't know that Ephesus was the 4th largest city of the ancient world. Nor did I know that Antony and Cleopatra honeymooned there and that the citizens poured red wine in their pathway to signal welcome -- and that the custom of rolling out a red carpet to welcome valued visitors came from that custom. I learned that archeologists estimate population of excavated cities by studying the largest coliseum or theatre in the city. They find out how many patrons could be seated there and multiply that number by 10 to estimate the city's population. The Ephesians built a bath at each entrance to the city in order to control the spread of disease. It reminded me of the proliferation of containers of hand sanitizer in all public buildings in recent months. The toilet area of the baths prompted amusing speculation. Observing rows of fifteen or twenty "seats", one has to wonder if there was any division between them at any time or if they were gender specified at all. It certainly makes one wonder about the expression "cheek to cheek."

We saw a demonstration for turkish carpet weaving and got a lesson in what increases or decreases the value and durability of carpets.

Back on the ship, we watched the Royal Princess pull out of port; then we cleaned up and ate dinner in one of the formal dining rooms. We went to see the new comedian, but we left early. The word "bomb" figures in a description of him. He was NOT "the bomb", but he definitely BOMBED! I can't remember his name right now. He was British and talked so fast and with such a strong accent that we could barely understand him. What we DID understand was not funny. In this day and age, I guess we should be thankful that our trip includes only this figurative kind of bomb.

Here is some information I gathered before we started this trip.

Ephesus which was established as a port, used to be an important commercial centre. It played a great role in ancient times because of its strategic location. Ephesus is located in a very fertile valleyand was once the trade center of the ancient world and the center of early Christianity. Today Ephesus is an important tourism center in Turkey. The ancient city of Ephesus is located in Selcuk, a small town 30 km away from Kusadasi.

Our major interest in Ephesus is, of course, its religious significance as it relates to our Christian faith and the Bible. The last book in the New Testament contains the revelation of St. John. The main subject of the Revelation is the end of the world. It tells the stories about the messages sent by Christ to "the Seven Churches" of Asia Minor as the Apocalypse approaches. The Seven Churches are located in the western part of Anatolia.

The Seven Churches of Apocalypse. The word church in Seven Churches is not used to define a building but a community of Christians. During the time, when Christianity was newly spread, it was under threat from Jews and pagans; therefore Christians were forced to worship in the mountains, graveyards and catacombs. When the King Domitian ordered Christians tortured and killed, the Book of Revelations was written. These "Seven Churches of the Apocalypse" were the cities that witnessed the formation of the first Christian communities as it was stated in the Bible and canonical letters. The Seven Churches are listed below in their order of importance:

  • Izmir (Smyrna) Revelation 2:8-11 - Smyrna (Izmir) dates back to the 3rd Millennium B.C. However most of the ruins only date back to 178 A.D. because of an earthquake which destroyed many buildings. During the persecution of Christians in Smyrna in 156, the famous bishop of Christian Church Polycorp and eleven other Christians were burned at the stake. St John spoke out to the Christians of Smyrna in his book 60 years before the persecutions in Smyrna.

  • Efes (Ephesus) Revelation 1:11, 2:1-7, Acts 18:19-28, 19:1-41 - Ephesus is the second pilgrimage center for Christians and was also home to the Virgin Mary and St John.
  • Eskihisar (Laodicea) Revelation 3:12-22, C0lossians 2:1, 4:13-16 - Laodicea was probably founded by King Antiochus II who named the city after his wife Laodice. Before the Christian era in the city, there were wealthy Jewish people living in the region. However most of the inhabitants worshipped Zeus.
  • Alasehir (Philadelphia) Revelation 3:7-13 - was founded in 159 BC. The church building, named after St. John, is a rectangular building of six pillars.

  • Sart (Sardis) Revelation 3:1-6 - Sardis is located on the motorway between Ankara and Izmir which was the capital of the famous kingdom Lydia. In his book St John wrote to the Christians of Sardis.

  • Akhisar (Thyatira) Revelation 2:18-29, Acts 16:14 - After the re-foundation of Thyatira (Akhisar) by Seleucus Nicator, one of the generals of Alexandre the Great, in the 3rd century B.C. it became a commercial city. It had many trade guilds which had members in certain unions like tailors, woolworkers, tanners, potter, bakers etc.. However these guilds were related to the pagan religions in Thyatira. The city was located 80 km away from Smyrna. What can be seen belonging to ancient times are only the Temple of Apollo, an ancient church and a colonnaded road.

  • Bergama (Pergamum) Revelation 2:12-17 - Pergamum was a small Ionian city which was first mentioned in connection with Lysimachos, one of the generals of Alexander the Great. In the book of Revelation St John spoke out to the Christian citizens of Pergamum

The number seven has an importance in many cultures and religions like seven heavens, the seven days of the week, the story of the Seven Sleepers, the combination of squares and triangles in the Pyramids and the seven branched candlestick.

Here are some things to see:

Ruins of the Basilica of St. John - The 6th century Basilica of St. John - Built by the Emperor Justinian over the tomb of St. John the Apostle,

final resting place of the Virgin Mary - The Vatican has recognized this small house in the Solmissos Mountains as the final resting place of the Virgin Mary

the Great Theater - theater had seating for 24,000, which was the site where it is believed St. Paul preached to the Ephesians, and is used today for a local spring festival.

Terrace Houses - Located in a newly excavated area across from Hadrian's Temple, Ephesus Terrace Houses were home to the city's elite. The wealthy and important people of Ephesus used these houses which are finely decorated with mosaics and frescoes giving a true impression of the ancient lifestyle. These houses are the finest examples of Roman domestic life in the world.

Magnesia Gate - Enter here and walk a marble path past the Odeon Theater, the Celsus Library, the Temple of Hadrian, the Fountain of Trajan, and the Great Theatre.

Sirince - a small mountain village that is also listed as a World Heritage Site. It is known for its Byzantine church colorful market. The Ephesus Museum displays collection of Hellenistic and Roman statues, carved reliefs and artifacts discovered in the ruins of Ephesus.

The temple of Artemis is known as one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. It was built in the areas of Ephesus on a flat area which has over the centuries turned into a swamp. Today one can only see the ruins of the foundations of this marvelous construction of the Hellenistic Age, entirely made of marble and full of sculptured columns, capitals, and shafts. The new Artemis was rebuilt in the 2nd century BC. Located on top of the previous one, it was huge: 127 columns of each 17,5 meters high. Unfortunately this one was also destroyed by fire, reconstructed and again demolished by earthquakes, rebuilt and at last looted by Goths.

The statue of many-breasted Artemis was the symbol of the temple but also of abundance, hunting and wild life. The genuine statue of Artemis, removed during the fire, is today exhibited in the Selcuk Museum. Many copies of this statue found during the latest excavations date from the Roman period.


Lyn said...

I hope the "many-breasted Amenis" doesn't get ABs! :-)
I'm glad you're having fun!

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Norma said...

We've seen many of the same places. We did Italy in 2008 and Greece, Turkey, Israel and Egypt in 2009. And already it seems like 10 years ago, so it was fun to have a refresher.