The Glory Of Ephesus, The Grace Of Maryemana
Selcuk Travel Blog› entry 70 of 83 › view all entries
I managed to drag myself out of bed and to the bus station with G├╝ne┼č and his friends, and although I missed the first bus due to the need for breakfast, I caught another bus quickly and was in the town of Sel├žuk in less than an hour. From there I immediately hopped on a minibus for Efes (Ephesus in Turkish), but it stopped along the main highway so I walked about 1 kilometer to the entrance. From there I could tell it was going to be a touristy place but I knew from pictures it was worth seeing. There were two entrances and where I entered, the first thing that caught my eye was the large amphitheater. It wasn't as large as Bergama's but still impressive. There were some chambers adjacent to it, supposedly where gladiators entered, so I guess that makes it a coliseum.
I don't have a good historical background about Ephesus but from visiting the site I learned that it was originally founded as a Hittite settlement about 6000 years ago nearer the city of Sel├žuk. It was clearly a Hellenic and Roman city, witnessed by the architecture and inscriptions in Greek and Latin. At its peak, the city had a population of 200,000 and was the Roman capital of the Asian province. After taking in the glory of the Library area, I followed a colonnaded walkway slightly uphill past several gates, temples and broken statues including a headless Alexander the Great.
Across from the coliseum was a long Roman market street that was closed to the public but easily viewable. Next to it was a display of findings from an adjacent necropolis with ornate sarcophagi scattered on the lawn. In the distance were the ruins of the Church of Mary, an enormous church judging from the remaining foundation. I wandered around this area but only discovered another pile of unidentified rubble that resembled another church.
The site of Maryemana was quiet and modest, as was to be expected. The tiny house had been turned into a chapel and there were a few devotees praying. I lit a candle and said a few prayers before exiting down the walkway to a wall where three spigots offered spring water. I filled up my water bottle and took some swigs, hoping that the water was blessed and could possibly cure what felt like a cold coming on.
Hitching another ride back down the hill, I spent the fading daylight exploring the town of Sel├žuk. My first stop was the Church of Saint John, which was closed but impressive to see from the exterior. Just a block away was the ─░sa Bey mosque, which consisted of both ruins of the original 17th century structure and a modern addition that is still used. Behind the church was the large citadel that was inaccessible. Throughout the cute little town were remnants of an ancient aqueduct that ran through the area. I walked in loops around the few main streets, past some quaint stores, bars and restaurants.
When I did get back, G├╝ne┼č picked me up and also had in tow two new Couchsurfers, Yago and his girlfriend from Austria (sorry I can't remember the name). We walked around Alsancak before hanging out at a nargile cafe for several hours, smoking some strawberry and peach flavored nargile and sipping on a variety of beverages. A few other CSers stopped by as well and it was another late night, but another memorable and fun one and even though I was getting sick I couldn't help feeling like I'd had one of the best days in awhile.