The splendour of Ephesus and a sad farewell

The ancient city of Ephesus in Turkey draws massive crowds of visitors – both local and international – every year. I have read that this might partly be because the ruins are easy to access from Izmir airport and Kusadasi, a nearby cruise ship port, but that seems a far too cynical assessment to me.

Arriving in Ephesus

Compared with other ruins we have visited throughout Turkey I would say the well preserved ruins of Ephesus are easily right up there with the best.

The ruins of Ephesus are right up with the best
Julia exploring an ancient staircase

We visited this precious ancient site on my sister Julia’s last day with us after a beautiful few days visiting a couple of our favourite anchorages on this part of the coast.

We visited this extraordinary ancient site on Julia’s last day with us

Founded in the 10th Century BC, Ephesus is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Excavations first started in 1863 and are still ongoing – led by the Austrian Archeological Institute, founded by German archeologist Otto Bendorf.

Ephesus is a UNESCO World Heritage site
Excavations of this incredible site first started in 1863

The ruins which mostly date from 27 BCE onwards, span over 662 hectares – one of the largest Roman archaeological sites in the eastern Mediterranean.

Most of the ruins date from 27 BCE onwards
This was only the small theatre!
Ephesus is one of the largest Roman archaeological sites in the eastern Mediterranean.

As we wandered through the ruins we were able to imagine the splendour of Ephesus in its heyday.

We were able to imagine the splendour of Ephesus in its heyday

One of the most magnificent buildings is the Library of Celsus, originally built around 125 CE, the façade of which has been carefully reconstructed from original pieces.

The magnificent Library of Celsius

A major highlight of our visit was the walk through the excavation site of terraced housing.

A highlight of our visit – the walk through the excavation site of terraced housing
Beautiful mosaics in the terraces
The well heeled of ancient Ephesus lived in beautiful homes

Covered by an amazing roof structure to protect the precious mosaics, wall paintings and other artefacts, the area is crisscrossed with glass and iron walkways leading through various levels, so you can view different aspects of the once magnificent homes of the wealthy citizens of Ephesus.

An amazing roof structure has been built to protect the precious mosaics, wall paintings and other artefacts
It was amazing to see the wall decorations and mosaics from Roman times still intact
Black marble in one of the terraced villas
The area is crisscrossed with glass and iron walkways leading through various levels

You could even see the clay pipes that once ran beneath the floors and behind the walls to carry warm air through the houses.

Clay pipes were used for drainage and for underfloor heating

It was impossible to walk around and take in the whole of Ephesus in one day and we left promising ourselves another visit as soon as possible.

The marble relief of winged Nike, the Greek goddess of Victory
It was impossible to walk around and take in the whole of Ephesus in one day
The public latrines!
Feeding time for the cats of Ephesus

Sadly, the following day we had to say farewell to Julia at Izmir airport. It of course, felt sad but on the other hand, we realised we were absolutely privileged and fortunate to see each other and to be able to move about freely when so many others have their lives totally on hold due to Covid.

Sunrise in Didim

On the way back from the airport we dropped into the popular coastal resort of Kuşadasi for lunch.

We stopped in Kuşadasi for lunch

The place was absolutely heaving but away from the busy seafront we did find somewhere very quiet to have something to eat.

A colourful carpet shop in Kuşadasi

We walked around the bazaar and on the way back to our car went into the old caravanserai (Kervansaray) close to the fishing harbour.

The old caravanserai (Kervansaray)

These lovely buildings served as roadside inns where once upon a time, travellers and their animals on the Silk Road and other trade routes could safely rest and recover from the day’s journey.

These lovely buildings served as roadside inns
Travellers and their animals on the Silk Road and other trade routes could safely rest and recover from the day’s journey

There was a lovely cool and peaceful atmosphere in this one and we could just imagine weary travellers enjoying the refreshing sound of the water fountain and the shade of the palm trees after a long amd day of walking or riding a camel or donkey.

There was a lovely cool and peaceful atmosphere
Gorgeous tiles at the caravanserai
The sturdy front gate to the caravanserai that protected travellers from thieves

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Salty tales from Bali Hai

In 2015, after a break from cruising of almost 30 years, my husband and I sailed off into the sunset - this time to the wonderful Islands of Indonesia and beyond. Three years passed and we swapped sails for wheels driving through Scandinavia and Europe in a motor home. Now we are on the brink of another adventure - buying a Lagoon 420 Catamaran in Athens. This is our story.

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