From the 6 century BC it was well known for its temple to the Goddess of Love Aphrodite, the construction of which was paid for, along with a number of major buildings, including the huge stadium, by an ex-slave of Emperor Octavian, Caius Julius Zoilos, who had made a fortune from something that is now a mystery.The monumental gateway to the temple has been reconstructed using 85% original blocks.
The temple itself was torn down by the Byzantine Christians and rebuilt into a church in AD 500 recycling the building materials.
Next door is the Bishop’s Palace. He must have lived well at his parishioners expense.
The stadium is huge, and one end was a gladiatorial arena with tunnels from which the combatants emerged.
We have seen lots of theatres elsewhere but this lovely little one is made of marble instead of limestone.
The last impressive building is the Sebasteion, a temple to the deified dead Roman emperors. When it was a complete building its 3 storeys were covered with friezes showing scenes from Greek myths and the exploits of the emperors, 70% of which have been found and are in the museum on site.
A few km down the road we came across an excellent restaurant where we stopped for lunch. We were serenaded by the proprietor on a mandolin and the walls were covered in antiques including old flint-lock and bolt action rifles which I was allowed to play with.
We thought that this pace might turn out to be expensive as there were no prices on display and we had shared four delicious dishes between us but the whole meal cost us only the equivalent of 17 aussie dollars.
When we left there the temperature felt like it was creeping over 40 again and we were wilting fast so we were on the lookout for an air-conditioned hotel. We checked out and rejected a couple of places before settling for a room in a rather run-down business hotel in the town of Nazilli. Tomorrow we’ll be going to the final place on our “to do in Turkey” list, Ephesus, which is said to be one of the most important archaeological sites in Europe.