Saturday, November 24, 2007

Kusadasi, Turkey (Ephesus)

Our first sight in the port of Kusadasi, Turkey was Pigeon Island, a rookery for marine birds, which connected to the mainland by a walkway. Immediately upon getting off the ship, there is a shopping area, where the leather goods and rugs that the country is famous for, can be found. There is a very prominent statue on the hillside, which is probably Attaturk, the founder of Turkey (his image is the one frequently seen on Turkish flags).

Probably the main reason Tina & I chose to go on a Mediterranean cruise was because we wanted to see Ephesus. It is significant to us as a city where the apostle Paul spent time, and we believed it would be inspiring to walk where he walked, just as it was to walk where Jesus walked. We discovered that Ephesus is fully as exciting as we thought it would be. We saw Roman ruins in Israel, and I had seen Pompeii back in 1967 (when I was not fully able to appreciate what I was seeing). But nothing we had seen previously prepared us for Ephesus. The ruins cover such an extensive area that it was easy to see how the city could have had a population of 300,000. It seemed as if the city almost continued forever. We saw the Odeon (or parliament), the library, the public bath, the large theater, which seated 24,000 (allowing one seat per family of 6-10 people), some beautiful mosaic work, and a tomb, among other things. There is a row of preserved homes that are sheltered from the elements. We were not able to see those, but heard about them from a friend. We were told about the Christian symbol, which was carved in the marble in many places. It is a circle with four intersecting diameter lines. Our guide showed us how one could use those lines to trace the Greek word Icthus. Christians knew that whenever they saw that symbol, there were fellow believers nearby.

The men's toilet, which seated 40, was quite interesting. There is a trough in front of the "seating" area, which held clean water for washing. The longest streets are paved in marble, and are lined with columns, which is where the market place would have been. The modern exit from the ruins is off Harbor Street, the street which originally led to the harbor. Ephesus has not been a sea port for a very long time, and given the current distance to the ocean, it is difficult to imagine the city as a port.

Another aspect of the ruins, which we found amazing, was the amount of detailed carving that was everywhere. It ranged from extensive dentil molding to carved friezes. It is mind-boggling to consider how much time was spent carving marble for the city.

Excavation and restoration are far from complete. As we drove out of the parking lot, we saw the area of the gymnasium, beyond the theater, which as not been excavated yet. This is a place that is well worth a return visit, to learn more about life and history of this ancient city. We would recommend a tour of Ephesus to anyone.

No comments: