The Wonders of Ephesus and Finding Sumac

From our magnificent hotel over looking the Agean Sea we set off to Ephesus early in the morning  hopefully to bet some of the crowds.

Ephisus 1

I find it hard to do justice to a monumental giant such as Ephesus. To understand how this  huge city was built and functioned is difficult to comprehend – thank goodness we have the Ali who knows ‘everything ‘. Started by the Greeks in  the 10th Century BC Ephesus thrived for hundreds of years  before being taken over by the Romans in 129 AD. During this time it was the third largest Roman city and had population of over 50,000 people.Ephisus 5

The city was famous  for the Temple of Artemis ( Diana) – one of the 7 wonders of the world.  The library of Celsus and a theater which was capable of holding 25,000 spectators. This open-air theatre was used  for dramas, but latterly gladiatorial combats were also held on its stage.We had our own performers – Ali obliged with a poem and Caroline sang – The acoustics are amazing.They do have live concerts here and that would be amazing – I think the sound would be better than the Dunedin Stadium..

ephasus 4

Ephesus also had several major bath houses and an incredibly advanced aqueduct system for houses, industry and even the public toilets – evidently the wealthy would have a slave sit on the marble to warm it up in cold weather!!!  Schools and Gymnasiums were part of every day life .

Our visit started off on a very pleasant morning and there wasn’t a cruise ship  in today  so compared to last year the crowds were good -however by the time we climbed up through the marble main street to the top it was incredibly hot.

Ephesus 6



Ephisus 3

So… How do you loose an  incredible city like this ..

Being sacked and plundered by Goths, Arabs, Ottomans, Crusaders  and anybody else wanting control – plus a huge earthquake destroyed many buildings .The importance of the city as a commercial centre declined as the harbour was slowly silted up. Today, the harbour is 5 kilometres away. With the harbour gone Ephesus lost its access to the Agean Sea, which it needed for trade.  Malaria killed many people and they started leaving the city for the surrounding hills.Many ruins of the temples were used as building blocks for new homes. Marble sculptures were ground to powder to make lime for plaster.Ephesus was completely abandoned by the 15th century and  was named Selçuk in 1914.

The site today is a huge tourist attraction and work continues with archaeologists  and universities from all around the world. Maybe my son Richard would like a survey job here!! We spoke to a girl from  Czechoslovakia working on a site and she was a private archaeologist working under contract.They have only uncovered such a small part of the city and I suppose it will never end.



Following our visit to Ephesus we continued on the the unique picture perfect village of  Sirince which is about 30 minutes from Ephasus.

There is a story that the village was settled by freed Greek slaves who named the village Çirkince meaning ugly in Turkish to deter others from following them.
It has a sad past. This village used to be home to a large strong Greek community. In 1923 they had to leave their village and Turkey as part of the population exchange – where all Greeks had to leave Turkey and be settled in Greece and all Turkish Muslims tranfer to Turkey . Its hard to imagine uplifting yourself, the elderly , children and minimal possesions  within a moments notice after living for generations in a country you called home.
Sirince 2
Sirince 3
 The town is surrounded by olive groves, vineyards, tangerine and fig gardens. Its  narrow paths were lined with locals selling handicrafts – from felting, knitting and crochet to head pieces made from dried flowers and herbs.
Today tourists arrive in great numbers – in a quiet alley along a stone lined path we ate at a typical local restaurant serving delicious Mezes one after the other.
It doesn’t matter where you go in Turkey ,wonderful vegetable based meze are offered everywhere and are so healthy.They use great quantities of vegetables, yoghurt, wild greens and herbs.
While wandering the alleyways after lunch I found some gorgeous old women selling their handwork  – I now have baby shoes , gorgeous knitted fingerless cloves, crocheted necklace . but.. my best find was spotting Sumac seeds still on its branches – I always wondered what they looked like.
 We had a few hours this afternoon to spend time  around the pool at the hotel . Some had a massage but a deckchair and several dips in the lovely infinity pool was magical. We stayed at the hotel for dinner – why leave !!