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.
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.
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.
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.
The ruins which mostly date from 27 BCE onwards, span over 662 hectares – 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.
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.
A major highlight of our visit was the walk through the excavation site of terraced housing.
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.
You could even see the clay pipes that once ran beneath the floors and behind the walls to carry warm air through the houses.
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.
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.
On the way back from the airport we dropped into the popular coastal resort of 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.
We walked around the bazaar and on the way back to our car went into the old caravanserai (Kervansaray) close to the fishing harbour.
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.
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.