Sigh. There were so many interesting sights last weekend, when traveling down the Western Coast of Turkey, that if I tried to write them all here, I would be discouraged before even starting.
So let me talk about the best sight near Izmir, and mostly post photos :)
Ephesus, within the Province of Izmir ("the Ibiza of Turkey") was one of the most famous cities of antiquity. Its beginning of human settlement occured at the Neolithic period, around 6,000 B.C. With the waves of migrations it became a larger city until Alexander the Great conquered it in 334 B.C. and it experienced a period of prosperity for 50 years. After hundreds of years of conquerings and lootings, earthquakes and being silted up from river deposits, Ephesus was abandoned in the 14th century.
In its heyday, it had:
- government buildings,
- a hospital and pharmacy,
- fountains, latrines (doing your collective business with 48 other men) and public baths,
- a sewage system with clay pipes,
- shops lining the various walks,
- the 3rd biggest library in the world (at the time),
- a Greco-Roman amphitheather with stage for 25,000 seating capacity (used for festivals until 2001), and
- a posh city center for aristocrats with frescos adorning walls and constant water even during dry periods.
The site is now mostly ruins with painstaking reconstructions, but it leaves visitors in awe of what an amazing city this was...
Ephesus Library was once the 3rd largest in the Empire
Frescos in what was once a neighborhood for wealthy families
Cats own the ruins of Ephesus
Men were lucky to have clean latrines... But you'd better be comfortable doing your business with up to 48 other people.
The smaller site of Bergama, with its intricate columns...
Amphitheater built into the side of a hill...
And obligatory rug seller, was no less impressive!
In the afternoon, we finished by visiting the House of Mary (apparently, Mary ended up in Southwestern Turkey after her son Jesus died -- don't ask me for the geographical logical of that one), and we added our wishes to the Prayer Wall
We ended up the town of Sirinc, with its 900 people, but seemingly overrun by tourists (and yes I was one of them)