Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Ephesus, Turkey

Ephesus, inland from the port city of Kusadasi Turkey,  is considered one
of the best archeological sites in the western world. It all started around
1000 BCE as a Greek settlement. The site that exists today was founded in
the 4th century BCE by Lysinachus, successor to Alexander the Great. But
it was the Romans that made Ephesus the great Aegean port of its time when
the population rose over 250,000. What remains of the city dates back to this
era. The city went through three phases of construction mostly due to the
silting up of the harbour. It also played an important role in early
Christianity. Paul lived here between 52-52 CE. Two Great Councils of the
early Church were held in Ephesus in 431 CE and 449 CE. There are also the
ruins of the house the Virgin Mary was brought to by St.John the Evangelist
where she spent her last days. The ruins of this house are just outside the
centre of Ephesus.  Over time Ephesus had been invaded and sacked and
suffered damage by earthquakes. Sadly Ephesus was deserted when the
harbour had silted up so badly it no longer could function.  By 1090 CE it
was only a village.

The tour through the ruins starts at the top of a hill and visitors work their
way down getting impressive views of the colonnaded street and the Library
of Celsus with its statues to wisdom, virtue, intellect and knowledge. There
are many structures still with beautiful stone work such as the Temple of
Hadrian with its facade portraying gods and goddesses and the Gate of
Hercules.  Everyday life is reflected in the ruins of the baths, gymnasium,
brothels and latrines. On the hillside is a modern structure covering a
restored section of Terrace Houses, homes of the wealthy. The structure,
which covers a path of clear walkways built over the ruins, allows visitors
an opportunity to observe what has been recovered in these elegant homes.
Floor mosaics and wall frescos give modern visitors and idea of their
lifestyle. The great theatre could hold 25,000 spectators. It has been used
for concerts in recent times but suffered some damage due to the stress of
the enthusiasm of many music fans.



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