The Mother of all WeekendsOur final big trip was to the Aegean Coast of Western Turkey. There is a lot of cool stuff to see there if you are into history. You see, the Greek and Roman Empires had some pretty great cities in Anatolia (aka Turkey). These cities had huge stadiums, theaters, and temples that would impress anyone. There are so many ancient cities on the Turkish coast and many of them have been uncovered by archaeologists. Since the most important structures were built of stone by the finest masons, there is still a lot to see even after two thousand years or so.
Efes (Ephesus)Probably the most famous and greatest of all the sites in Turkey is Ephesus. It was first settled by the Greeks and then the Romans and then it faded into oblivion for a long time until some Austrian archeologists started to dig it back up around the turn of the century. It is so well preserved that you can actually get a feel for the entire city.
There is a long marble column-lined promenade that leads up from what used to be the harbor on the Aegean. Because of silt from nearby rivers, the promenade ends quite a ways short of the current coastal area. Anyway, you can imagine arriving by boat from Rome and walking up this grand street. At the end is a huge theater that could hold thousands. Supposedly Sting gave a concert there recently, but probably it played host to a lot of spectaculars in its time. Off to the left one will find a stadium for sporting events. To the right lies the center of town.
Among the well-preserved buildings are the library, some temples, and a really cool public bathroom. The peasant houses were evidently made from food because they never seem to remain, but there are some homes of more wealthy citizens that are still being uncovered today. Among the towns more famous citizens was Mary, the mother of Jesus. There is a little tribute to her up the road which we did not visit, but the history does show that she retired to Efes after Jesus died.
Continued TourThere are many tour buses that run around this area, so you can be sure to catch a ride from Istanbul and go through Troy, etc. We continued on our little mini bus to Miletus and Priene for the rest of the weekend. I suppose that one could tire of seeing the same temples and theaters, but it was all very fascinating to me. Perhaps it was because we had very good professors form METU along who could explain the site and really bring it alive. The stones really speak for themselves, though. It was like all that history that I studied had suddenly come alive. Maybe some of my photos can recreate the scene for you.