At last, we arrived at Ephesus, the veritable focal point of this blog, at about 10 o'clock this morning. There were 14 of us, plus the guide.
The guide was a very knowledgeable archaeologist, who has spent considerable time touring Europe's ancient sites. He told us that Ephesus was founded as early as 3,000 years ago. it was a Greek colony, then it was later ruled by the Persians until Alexander the Great came along. In the 2nd century BC, Ephesus came under Roman rule. Later, Ephesus became Christian. St Paul and St John the Baptist spent time here. It eventually fell into ruin due to a number of factors, not least earthquakes, malarial mosquitoes and over-population. The guide explained general history, but also some of the physical aspects of the ancient world. Often, sites are in ruins because peoples of later ages would plunder materials, and take them to build new sites elsewhere.
We walked along, and saw various sites: the Odeion, an ancient concert hall; the Agora (market place or open space - where we derive the word 'agoraphobia'); and the Prytaneion, a municipal building for political debates. We walked down Curetes Street, where we saw the Trajan Fountain, the Temple of Hadrian (the latter had swastika patterns on the entrance wall - and you can detect the word 'swastika' within the name of the Skolasticia Baths nearby). Near the Temple of Hadrian, we saw ancient public toilets for men. They relieved themselves openly and without worry. Privacy was an issue only for women.
At the end of Curetes Street, where it intersects with the Marble Road, there stands the ruins of the Celsus Library, the second biggest in the ancient world. It held 29,000 scrolls. Opposite the Library was the brothel, which connected to the Library via a tunnel under the road. The guide said men used to tell their wives they were 'just spending the evening at the Library, dear'. An advertisement for the brothel is etched into the pavement further down the Marble Road (see below - the dots within the heart represent the number of ladies at the brothel). At the end of Marble Road is the Grand Theatre, which has served as part of the backdrop design for this blog, and which had capacity for 24,000 spectators. Extending away from the Theatre is the Harbour Road. In antiquity, the coast was very near Ephesus. Silt deposits down through the centuries have pushed the coast several miles further away. The guide advised that Cleopatra herself had visited here.
After lunch, we visited the House of the Virgin Mary. It is generally accepted that this very house was the house in which Mary, Mother of Jesus, lived and later died. Recent Popes have celebrated mass here. We later saw the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. Afterwards, we visited the mosque behind the Temple. See below for Jean's photo inside the mosque.
I mentioned that Ephesus has been the focal point of this blog. We have travelled for the last eight weeks in anticipation of reaching this destination. Since we left Aberystwyth in Wales on 6 July, we've followed a generally south-easterly direction across Europe to this the most eastern point of our journey. Tomorrow, we begin the long, generally north-westerly journey back across Europe. But first, we'll enjoy a little holiday within our holiday in the Greek islands.
The Grand Theatre seated 24,000 spectators
Harbour Road, which lead to the sea, only a short distance away in ancient times.
It is accepted that the Virgin Mary lived and died in this house near Ephesus