My Journey to Ephesus

Just before wheels up on my flight to Izmir, I was entertained by the subtitled version of this Pegasus Airlines safety video  posted on YouTube by Murat K. I can only imagine everyone’s real-time reaction when the male flight attendant came out popping and locking (1:40) in the name of safety.

After a short smooth flight and train ride to Selcuk, I left the train station eager for the day’s adventures. It wasn’t hard to look like a tourist with my face buried in a map while trying to find the hotel. Amongst a few stares while bypassing retail solicitors, and after walking down the same street a few times the Urkmez Hotel was tucked away, peacefully awaiting its guests. What I enjoyed about the cozy hotel was the hospitable staff, amazing balcony views of the castle on the hill, and AMAZING rooftop breakfast buffet the next morning. But with a 70% chance of showers, the immediate plan was to check-in, then visit the furthest locations first and head back to the hotel after.

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First stop, House of the Virgin Mary! The shrine is built on the same foundation said to be the last home of the Blessed Virgin of the Mother of Jesus Christ. Though an overall small exhibit, following the path leads you to an overlook of a plush wooded area on the left. To the right of the walkway is the spring source to drink or bottle up some of the blessed Holy water. Further down the path is a wall of hanging prayers.

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Just down the road is the highly anticipated Ancient City of Ephesus. In order to take my time to capture as much as possible without pressure to stay with a tour guided group, I purchased the digital tour which is simply a rented digital player with headphones that will direct you from entrance to exit. Be sure to bring plenty of water, comfortable walking shoes, and allot about 2-3 hours from beginning to end. Hopefully the images will speak for themselves, but it was simply jaw-dropping to walk these well preserved, well excavated streets just as those who walked 2000 plus years ago. Just imagine whose hands touched these walls, whose feet walked upon this foundation, whose blood was spilled in this building, and whose prayers were spoken in this room.

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None of today’s modern machinery or big box stores existed, so you can almost feel the blood, sweat, and tears poured into the details of these structures. The rows of columns, statuesque monuments, whether viewing the amphitheater from the highest row of seats or center ground it was breathtaking.

Amphitheater

From the top of the hill you are able to see in the distance the magnificent library of Celsus. There were several constructions before, but I couldn’t help but glance over to it throughout the ever warming walk. The construction began in 117 A.D. and completed just three years later, paid for by Celsus himself. Just beneath the main entrance is his crypt containing his sarcophagus (box-like funeral receptacle).

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The Church of the Virgin Mary. An ancient cathedral dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

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Instead of having the taxi wait, we decided to trek our way to what is known as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Temple of Artemis. Like many of the ancient ruins’ history, the temple has a controversial reputation. From a cult following to being rebuilt three times as a gift to honor the goddess.

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The explorative day ended after a delicious Turkish meal. Ready to set foot to the the next days sites.

Due to renovations the museum wasn’t set to open for another month. Though the additional sites would have been great to see, words cannot express the honor of being able to visit what is said to be the burial site of John the Apostle.

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There are many places in Turkey, and abroad, to visit ancient ruins and vast history. I would highly recommend the most visited touristic destination in Turkey. Selcuk’s proximity to the House of the Virgin Mary, ancient city of Ephesus, and Basilica of St. John the Apostle is a must.

Thanks for roaming Turkey with me!

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