Monday, 18 June 2012


Roman Ephesus was the capital of Asia Minor and had over 250,000 inhabitants. A fertility avatar of the goddess Artemis was worshipped here and devotees constructed a temple in honour of her. Today 18% of the former city has been unearthed after 150 years of excavations. Most of the buildings collapsed in an earthquake in 264 AD but archeologists are slowly finding all the bits and piecing them back together again.

We left our hotel at 7.30 am with the intention of covering the 120km or so by 9.00 am and beating the coach tours. What we didn't know was that a huge cruise ship full of mainly Americans had arrived on the coast and they were arriving by the busload to see the best preserved classical city in the world.

It was a tad crowded!

Temple dedicated to Hadrian

Roman toilets. Water ran in the channel in front that you used to wash yourself
 clean with a sponge or cloth on a stick as they hadn't invented toilet papyrus.

The city library which was reconstructed using the original materials in the 1970s

Most interesting of all were the Roman terrace houses on a hillside. They were destroyed by the earthquake but many of the frescoes and marble floors are partially intact and they have found thousands of fragments of the marble wall linings that were in many of the rooms and are piecing them together and reattaching them.

Piecing together the marble "wallpaper"
Original frescoes
Mosaic floor
After an hour and a half we'd had enough of the crowds and it was getting very hot again so after a fresh orange juice at a cafe near the entrance to the complex we set off on the bike for the port town of Cesme where we catch the ferry to the Greek island of Chios tomorrow morning. We  opted for the autobahn instead of the minor roads this time because of the heat and it gave us a chance to use the toll card that we bought the day we entered Turkey but hadn't needed so far. Stopped for lunch at a restaurant next to one of the autobahn services and had a excellent meal. In fact some of the best meals we've had in Turkey have been lunches at highway-side restaurants, certainly as good as quality restaurants at home at a fraction of the price.
The autobahn took us past Izmir, which is a huge city, and through some lovely countryside and occasionally close to the coast as we rode west through the Cesme peninsula. Cesme itself was a pleasant surprise, much smaller than we expected and a quite attractive resort town apparently very popular with Izmiries and becoming increasingly popular with foreigners.
Hotels are expensive here but we managed to negotiate the price from 150 lira down to 120 lira. We wanted to visit the large castle but it is closed today for cleaning work. 

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