Thursday, October 1, 2009

Efes, more than beer

Arrived in Selcuk bright and early and had to sit around in the park for an hour waiting for my hostel to open so I could take a nap before setting off to explore the area.

Got a ride out to Ephesus with the guy who owned the carpet store next to the hostel. The ruins of Ephesus are huge and have some really beautiful sections. It was a Greek, then Roman, then Byzantine city dating back to the dark ages and was once the site of the Temple of Artemis, one of the seven wonders of the Ancient world (but there is nothing left of that now). The higlights of the site are the intricate carvings on the Temple of Hadrian, Library of Celsus and the enormous theatre.

Left Ephesus and walked to the nearby Cave of the Seven Sleepers which was the ruins of a church over the site of where, according to legend, 7 men around 750AD were entombed in a cave where they had gone to escape persecution as Christians by the emperor Decius and fell asleep until the cave was reopened by a farmer 200 years later at which time they awoke, thinking they had only slept for one day.

Got a ride back to Selcuk and visited the museum which houses many of the artifacts found at Ephesus including sculptures from the Fountain of Pollio, statues of Artemis from the Temple and a tiny, though well endowed statue of the fertility god Priamos who has to be kept in a dark cabinet incase he offends anyone's delicate sensibilities.

Had a huge turkish breakfast courtesy of the hostel the next day and visited the ruins of St John's Bascilica above the town which was once a huge church (the 7th largest cathedral in the world if it was rebuilt today) built on the spot where the Apostle John wrote his gospel and is buried. St John apparently came to Selcuk to escape persecution, bringing with him the Virgin Mary so after lunch I made my way (after a minor argument with the taxi driver over whether we had agreed on a price in Lira or Euros) to the house (now shrine) where she lived the rest of her life. Walked back to town to avoid another round of arguing over taxi fare and it was actually a quite nice walk down hill, other than the crazy tour buses speeding past on the winding roads, eek. Back to town for another entertaining evening of waiting for the bus, woohoo!

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