Every day at the end of our touring I think to myself, “That was the best!” and every day it’s true. Therefore, today was the BEST.
The title of this post “The Mother Goddeses” is a bit obscure (and inaccurate) but here’s what I was thinking. Today we’re exploring Ephesus, built about 1000 BC, and which became a center of worship of Cybele, the Anatolian Mother Goddess. After Ephesus we’re going to the final home of the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus. Two Mother figures…get it?
When we got on the bus this morning, Ender told us that he had some bad news from a friend he had dinner with last night. His friend, also a guide, told him that there were 7 cruise ships in Izmir today. YIKES! All those people swarming to Ephesus the same time as us. Apparently it isn’t unusual for 2 or 3 cruise ships to be in port at the same time, but 7??
You would think forewarned is forearmed, but I was taken aback by the disneyland-like crowds.
Still, this was the best day!
I could write pages and pages about Ephesus and I’ve tried to keep this post short (and,hopefully, interesting).
Ephesus is considered one of the greatest ruin cities in the western world, and it really is amazing. It was a port city and very an important ‘administrative center’ for Rome. Do you see any water in the photo below?
Nope, I didn’t think so. Ephesus’ decline was due to the silting over of it’s harbor…where there was water there is now miles of flat land. This silting over of this Aegean harbor played a death knell for other cities as well but it is in Ephesus that the flat land is so obvious.
Joining the hordes of cruise ship tourists, Ender bravely lead us into the fray with his flag.
I loved this carved angel and below is a photo of the Temple of Hadrian. Hadrian visited Ephesus in 123 AD and this temple was built to honor him. Isn’t it amazing that this is still standing?
But my favorite part of the entire day was the Library of Celsus. Remember, Ephesus was an administrative center and a library would have been important. This library was built by Celsus’ son and he put it right in the MIDDLE of the town’s main thoroughfare.
As an Imperial administrative site, Ephesus would naturally have a large theater. I walked up almost to the top of the seating so you can get a feel for the scope of this structure. It was originally built during the Hellenistic period so was built into Mount Pion but was later renovated by the Romans.
We have lots of free time to wander the sites on our own (we aren’t flag followers really) and I have a tendency to find myself off the beaten path. That was the case here in Ephesus. I walked away from the crowds to find a faint grassy path that had a small sign: “Church of the Virgin Mary.” Naturally I was curious and walked down it. I came upon a live dig.
A wee bit further along was the “Church of the Virgin Mary”. This was as close as I could get (I’m still pulling stickers out of my socks). I don’t know anything about this site and since I was alone and it was quiet I simply reflected on what it might have been or meant to the citizens of Ephesus.
I eventually wandered back to the bus. Our next visit was to the House of the Virgin Mary – a much smaller site and strangely moving. There are probably four different countries that claim to have the final house of the Virgin Mary; each with it’s own proof. Because John was known to be in this area and Jesus referred John to Mary as her son (“Mother, behold thy son”) the thinking in Turkey is that St. John the Evangelist came here from Patmos to take care of her. My Biblical knowledge borders on nil, so I may not have all the names correct. Ephesus was very important in the spread of Christianity (Ephesus=Ephesians) and two great Councils of the Church were held here in AD 431 and 449. So, sure, this could be the final house of the Virgin Mary.
The part I found strangely moving in this experience was this wall.
There are a bazillion small pieces of paper, tissues, ripped from notebooks or tablets – whatever people have in their pockets – they write their “wishes” or prayers. I had a “moment”. I wanted a HUGE HUGE piece of paper and I wanted to write ‘bring us peace” and cover the wall. Some of the more simple slips left said things like ‘help me to pass my exams’ and “help me find a good husband.” My attitude is, if you have the ear of the Virgin Mary, ask for mankind.
A great day…let’s end it with some food! Pomegranates