The wake up call at 6 am was a little tough to take this morning. However, the excitement of our journey to Ephesus eased the pain a bit. The Ruby Princess pulled in to port at 6:57 am, right on schedule, and we promptly disembarked to greet our tour guide from Hello Ephesus. We immediately took a liking to Bulent, aka Bill, as he was funny, knowledgeable, and looked remarkably like John Locke. (A character from my favorite TV show of all time, LOST.)
As we drove out to the ruins, about 25 minutes away, Bill filled us in on the history of Turkey and all that we would be seeing out in Ephesus. It was fascinating to hear his account of the many civilizations and cultures that have shaped his country over the centuries. I noticed the countryside as we drove, feeling very much at home amid the citrus trees and farmland of the region.
Awe Struck by Ephesus
I have to say that we were all a little giddy as we got off of the bus near the site. The sign advertising “Genuine fake watches” cracked us up immensely. It was a theme that would recur throughout the day. However, our giggles turned to awe as we entered the site of the most well-preserved ruins in the world. Despite having heard how amazing the World Heritage site is, nothing could prepare our group for what was before us.
From the moment we set our eyes upon the theater on the slave’s street, all the way to the Celsius Library, we stood in awe at the magnificence and detail shown in the buildings, monuments, and homes of ancient Ephesus. 2600 years have gone by since marble was used to erect much of the city. Yet, there it lay before us, for our eyes to gaze upon and feet to traverse. It was humbling to walk in this ancient city, where Paul spent two years of his ministry teaching and preaching.
Beauty in the Broken
Our tour included a visit to the Terrace Houses, where the elite of the city lived. Only unearthed in 1968, this is one of the most prominent archaeological digs on earth. No tour to Ephesus is complete without entering the 11 million dollar building that houses this portion of the site. To see original mosaics on the floors, and paintings on the walls, of the houses was just phenomenal. The level of detail was exquisite, with some homes even having heated floors! We also gained a new appreciation for those who work at sites such as this. They lovingly and painstakingly piece together the shattered pieces of marble and clay found in the ruins, preserving it for our enjoyment and education.
After departing Ephesus, we took a short drive to the Basilica of St. John. Here lie the ruins of a church built over his final resting place. While not much of the church remains, it is definitely worth a visit. The site is very near a mosque and the ruins of the Temple of Artemis, (the 2nd Wonder of the Ancient World that we have seen this week!) reminding us how Pagans, Muslims, and Christians have all had profound influences on the culture of the region.
I could go on and on about what we saw. But, until you visit, it is truly hard to understand what Ephesus offers her visitors. Suffice it to say that our hearts and minds were opened in a whole new way today. We can now begin to picture what life was like 500 years BC. What a gift!
Lisa is the travel loving, animal adoring, Mickey Mouse hugging owner of Dreams Delivered Travel.