Originally published on 14 September 2011.
And so begins our Sunday in Ephesus! We went to the bus stop to catch the Efes (Turkish for Ephesus) bus and were there within 10 minutes of leaving the place where we were staying. Lickety split, easy as that! Tickets into Ephesus were 20 Lira, about $11, in case anyone’s interested in going. =)
Unfortunately, we got there about the same time as some of the tour groups from cruise ship excursions. Fortunately, we had our pick of English-speaking guides to follow throughout our sojourn back in time. =) Money saved: 40 Euro, or roughly just over $50. Cha-ching.
And we’re off! Dan decided to abandon us girls and get the audio guide. Andrea and I decided to take our time, read signs, eavesdrop, and look at everything as long as we wanted! First up, the small theater. Columns in the Corinthian, Byzantine, and Roman styles were all displayed together, seemingly at random. Ruins were laid out everywhere, as if they’d all just toppled over yesterday. And the best part: we got to climb all over most of them! =) Andrea and I climbed onto the nearest broken pieces and started taking pictures. We walked into the “gymnasium”, or small theater, and just walked around in awe. The steps were marble, and just thinking about how old the stone seating is was mind-blowing! It would be interesting to know what all happened there when it was in full use. I’ll bet none of them ever thought, “One day, people will come from all over the world and pay lots of money to come here and take tours. They’ll even write guidebooks about this place.” Little did they know that just a few thousand years later, people would flock there from cruise ships and think of it as part of a vacation destination!
And onward we went! We looked around for Dan, but by this time he was already WAY head of us! Andrea and I went about our business climbing and roaming around the fallen granite chunks. We saw a cool archway and both thought, “Photo-op!” Others were in the same area as well, but the next thing we knew, we were being yelled at by an entire tour group saying, “Get out!” Unfortunately, we missed the “Do not cross” sign. Fortunately, we got the pictures!!! =) Absolutely worth it.
Next stop, we decided to get out of the way of that particular tour group and explore a less-crowded area. Apparently we ended up in the part of Ephesus where they store the pieces they excavate before putting them out for tourists to climb upon! We saw a lot of pieces that were placed next to each other, like pieces of a puzzle about to be glued together. A lot of the pieces also had very clear writing on them. Looked like Greek to me. 😉 I was amazed at how clear the writing was. I guess marble doesn’t erode like regular rock! The writing was beautiful. Sure makes me wish I could read Greek! The place was pretty impressive with all the pieces just laying around, propped against the wall, sitting on shelves. Cats (which are EVERYWHERE!) were using them as pedestals to sit or clean themselves on. I think they’re a bit jaded with the whole Ephesus thing. 😉
And next we have… more columns and statues from various time periods! It’s pretty neat to see them all together, sort of in progression. We also saw statues of gods, goddesses, rulers, heroes of the day, cherubim, etc. Very interesting to see, especially since a lot of the statues were also engraved with crosses—some big, some small, some elaborate, some looked like part of a pattern. Not sure if that symbolized something else at some point, or if perhaps Christians had any influence over the stone engraving or carving sometimes.
Next up, the bathroom! We learned all sorts of interesting things about the men’s room/”House of Love” at Ephesus. Apparently marking your territory was a big deal, as was bum washing. Don’t use your imagination too much, my friends! And just behind the men’s public toilet was the brothel. Very nice.
Moving on! Down the walkway we go, passing headless ruined statue people along the way. No telling who all walked down that walkway so many years ago! We got to the bottom of the hill, and there before us is what we’d been seeing from a distance until now: The Library of Celsus! If ever you’ve seen a picture of a broken down building in Ephesus, that’s it! Signs around the building showed the before and after pictures of excavation, so we could see just how much restoration had been done. It’s amazing what people can do! Did anyone else do Puzz-3D when you were a kid? This is the real thing! Why didn’t I get into that when I was deciding what to do with my life? It’s never too late, right? =)
Sadly, we discovered the books are no more—I guess they didn’t make those out of granite or marble, huh? Haha. They are still excavating and restoring Ephesus, so maybe if I go back again in 20 years there will be more. They’ve done a lot in the last 20 years since excavation started, but my goodness there’s a lot left to be done!
Passing through an archway dedicated to someone who used to be important, we came upon the road down to what used to be the harbor! Yes, that’s exactly where people would go for access into Asia Minor back in the day—people like Paul and other people of the Bible! And right there in the middle of the road we saw it: a re-enactment of a play about a ruler! It was in Turkish, so of course we had no idea what was going on, nor could we see over the crowd of people. What we did see looked pretty corny, though. It would have been hilarious if we’d been able to understand the plot. Oh well!
And then we came to the crown jewel of Ephesus and its place in Biblical history: The Great Theater! Not only is it the biggest of its kind in the world (it could once hold 24,000 people), it’s also likely where Paul spoke boldly to the Ephesians!
Andrea and I settled in up at the top and read aloud Acts 19, the chapter about Paul in Ephesus! How incredible to think that this is where he very well may have appeared before the crowd, much to the disciples’ dismay, as the crowd shouted for two hours, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” And the city clerk was the one who spoke in his defense! I didn’t appreciate the reverence held for Artemis. I really didn’t even know much about her at all until now! She was apparently the giver of life to all, according to their cultural beliefs. THAT is who these people worshipped, and that is exactly who Paul was teaching against! As Andrea and I read, I think we both gained new understandings of things we hadn’t thought of before and made connections we’d missed until now.
After the dramatic reading and several moments of discussion, reflection, re-reading, and reading more of the surrounding chapters to gain context, we went about our way. We walked through the tunnel that leads to the stage area from outside the theater, and I got some goose bumps thinking that might have been part of the route those Bible characters would have taken as well!
We then came upon a row of columns of all sorts and made from many materials! They really are beautiful, even after all this time. And what might be more amazing is the weather here—perfectly blue skies and no clouds! It’s really a spectacular setting for the ruins! The white really stands out against the blue. As we walked on, we came upon an interesting ruin graveyard. All sorts of pieces and huge chunks had been all set out in neat rows, just like that’s where they’re supposed to be for eternity.
And then we came to the end of the road through Ephesus! Thank you for joining us on our journey! We looked around at the shops outside of Ephesus and sat for a while to rehydrate and rest our weary feet. Dan had let us know that he’d caught the dolmus bus back to the place where we’d been staying, so we knew we’d be able to meet up with him later. Andrea and I had to wait a while for the dolmus, but no worries—we made a new friend while we waited! I don’t think we got her name, but she’s one of the waitstaff from a cruise ship that was docked in the area for the day. She’s from Guadalajara, Mexico, and she’s been all over the place with her work. Yet again—a VERY cool job that lets you travel!
So back to our place we went! We got Dan, and the three of us struck out for a Turkish food adventure. My experiences to this point had led to undesirable results, but I kept hoping I’d be proven wrong and have a grand experience instead. It’s all so inexpensive around here, and I hate to pass up a food opportunity! Luckily enough, this one was pretty good. Andrea and Dan were both GREATLY pleased—Andrea’s kebab was big enough to feed all three of us! I got the stuffed eggplant—I love that they have eggplant everywhere around here—and Dan had no trouble finding a vegetarian meal for himself. It was a winner all around! We made a kitty friend for a little while, but then another cat came and crashed the party—one would think this would teach us not to feed the cats, but I don’t think we learned our lesson. =)
We walked around a bit and headed back to our place after a while. Andrea and I did our church service—Ephesians was, of course, the topic for us—and it was very good for both of us.
Another interesting note about Ephesus is that a sizeable percentage of the artifacts that were excavated there have since gone to other countries for display or just “because”. Some of the Turks we met told us that the Turks don’t know a lot about the history of the country, and they don’t really know that they should care either. After changing hands so often and being involved in so many wars, and then the whole population change I knew nothing about until two weeks ago, it’s no wonder they’re apathetic and/or ignorant. I’ve learned a lot more about Turkish history and culture than I realized!
That said, another portion of the Ephesian artifacts are in the Ephesus Museum in Selcuk, which we decided to go to on Monday. There are more headless statues, statues heads without bodies, friezes, reliefs (I need to look up the difference in the last two), tables, tools, urns, sarcophagi, and the things I found most interesting were the life-sized sculptures of two secular leaders. Why were they so interesting? Well, because they had been “Christianized”! Or so the sign said next to them! Apparently, some Christians got ahold of them at some point and carved a cross on each of the sculptures’ head. Take that.
More on the rest of the trip later. Hope you enjoyed the Ephesian excursion!
For pictures, click here!