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The Attractions of Turkey by Liz Canham

#262 - 24 - 13 - The Attractions of Turkey by Liz Canham
[ 2008-03-23 02:18:31 ] - lizc


Apart from sun, sea and sand and the wonders of Istanbul, Turkey has some stunning places to visit. One of the most famous is the ancient city of Ephesus which lies 17 kilometres inland from the seaside resort of Kusadasi, in the region known as Ionia.

One of the greatest ancient cities, Ephesus was founded prior to the 10th century BC by Ionian Greeks. It was then ruled by a succession of foreign kings and was finally left to the Romans. In its heyday, Ephesus had a population of 200,000 and traders from the East brought exotic goods to sell and to export through Ephesus' port. When the harbour silted up in the 3rd century, the citys main access was closed and the city went into a decline.

In 1969, the site was rediscovered by a British archaeologist and what you see now mainly comes from the period of Roman rule.

We started our tour at the Magnesian Gate and past the odium and pryaneum (town hall). We walked down the marble street called Curetes Way, passing the Temples of Domitian and Hadrian en route. The temple of Domitian has some rather marvellous carved pillars but little else while Hadrians Temple with its arched entrance has been well-restored.

Onwards, past Heracles Gate and Trajans Fountain to the Library of Celsus. This fantastic facade is decorated with the statues of Sofia ("Wisdom"), Arete ("Virtue"), Episteme ("Knowledge) and Ennoia ("Insight"). The library was built in the 2nd century by a Roman consul as a memorial to his father. Their technology was such that air channels were incorporated behind the manuscript storage niches to control the humidity.

Not far from the library is a public latrine, and engraved into a paving stone a footprint and the representation of a lady. This is a signpost to the nearby brothel.

Further up Curetes Way is the Great Theatre which could seat 25,000 people. It stands with its back to Mount Pion and is still used today for local festivals.

Away from the theatre up Harbour Road is the Agora (commercial centre), the Gymnasium where the young men were educated and the Twin Churches of Mary. Originally a Roman basilica was used as a commercial building then turned into a church on whose ruins the Twin Churches of Mary stand.

I could go on, but you really need to see this amazing place for yourself and soak up the atmosphere.


Further inland still, is the fantastic natural wonder which is Pamukkale or cotton castle. It is believed to have been formed by hot thermal springs pouring down the hillside and depositing calcium carbonate which solidifies.

It looks like a fairy land of slightly sparkling white and I was fortunate enough to visit while one could still paddle in the warm pools. The sunset over the scallop-shaped basins of water and frozen waterfalls was utterly magical so an overnight stay is well worth it.

Liz Canham

As well as a passion for Travellers' Tales Liz has a love of Asian Food and Cookery.
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