Most of us throughout our lives have heard an excerpt or two from the Bible. Perhaps it was at a wedding or other life event we heard mention of people like Virgin Mary, John the Baptist, and the Ephesians. We would hear about ancient places like Jerusalem, Rome, Ephesus and Corinth which seemed about as real as Oz and the yellow brick road. So as I began to research Ephesus and realized that people mentioned in the Bible lived and died there and it suddenly took on a different light.
Our day began in the lovely resort city of Kusadasi (kush-a-da-say) where we boarded a bus and met our guide Burak. The landscape outside the bus window was green, lush and pretty as it made the 45-minute drive to our first stop. The House of the Virgin Mary is said to be the place where Mary spent her last days. And while I'd heard about Virgin Mary my whole life growing up Catholic, I'd never heard any mention of her death. Although it's never been proven it is known that St. John the Apostle left Jerusalem and went to Ephesus after the death of Jesus. Due to the uprisings and persecutions against Christians in Jerusalem it is thought that Mary went too. See the link below for the full story.
Views Along The Way
As we entered the tiny two room house the larger of the rooms contained an altar and a statue of Virgin Mary. The smaller side room is probably where she would have slept when she lived here. Nearby is a spring that still produces fresh drinking water said to have holy powers. And nearby the fountain is a "prayer wall" where visitors can list their wishes on paper or tissues and attach it to the wall. So of course being a writer I managed to find a napkin and borrow a pen from a stranger that I could use to write my wishes with before stuffing it in among the others. In the future I'll be sure to let you know when my wishes DO come true. Today the house of Virgin Mary is a shrine where many believers make a yearly pilgrimage.
Statue of Virgin Mary
Waiting To Enter House Of Virgin Mary
A Tree Growing Out Of House
Fountain Of Water Said To Have Healing Powers So I Drank Some
Adding My List Of Wishes To The Prayer Wall
The ancient city of Ephesus was built in the 10th century BC and had a population of 55,000 when it was under Roman rule. Best known for it's Temple of Artemis which was completed around 550 BC it is considered to be One Of The Seven Wonders Of The Ancient World. Ephesus was one of the seven churches of Asia that are cited in the Book of Revelation. And how cool to think that the Gospel of John is said to have been written in Ephesus too.
Ancient City Of Ephesus, Turkey
Odeion Theater In Background
Temple Of Domitian
Once discovered the archaeological site of Ephesus was reconstructed and dedicated to the goddess Artimis. The city was once home to over 1000 prostitutes who made an honest living, working in a huge brothel with hundreds of rooms. Large public toilets provided social areas for men and women combined. After roaming through the ancient site with narrations by Burak we headed to our next stop.
Temple Of Hadrian
Communal Toilets For Socializing Of Both Men & Women
Notice The Trough In Front Of Toilets
Water Would Flow Through & People Would Wet Rags To Clean Themselves
A Closer View
Library Of Celsus
About 2 miles from Ephesus near the city of Selcuk (sell-cook) sits the Basilica of St. John. Constructed by Emperor Justinian in the 6th century it was once a great church. Believed to be the burial site of St. John, the tomb dating back to the 300's was discovered by Emperor Justinian. The Emperor later built the magnificent church over the tomb to honor St. John. Legend says that John wrote his gospel in Ephesus at the request of the other disciples and later died there.
Another View From St. John's Basilica
The Photo In The Background Is A Former Leader Who Was Very Well Liked
He Died Young Of Liver Damage As A Result Of Too Much Raki
Basilica Of St. John
The Tomb Of St. John
And like yesterday today en route we spotted another boy dressed like a prince preparing for his circumcision party. Burak pointed him out and gave us some other general information also. He noted that absolutely no graffiti is seen in Turkey as kids are taught at a young age to respect other people's property.
Boy On Horseback Dressed As Prince For His Circumcision Celebration
He went on to explain that Turkey is a neutral country with a large military and that all are required to serve time. While 95% of Turks are Muslims many are non-practicing. But since going to mosque is not mandatory in Turkey no one really knows who practices and who doesn't. He went on to tell us that the carpet industry is dying since young girls no longer have an interest in learning the art of rug making from their mothers. The soil in Turkey is very fertile and they produce large crops of pomegranates, olives, figs, peaches, plums and pistachios. Turkey even has it's own supply of silk worms and is one of the largest silk producers in the world. Some 80 million are said to reside in Turkey which actually spans two continents. Istanbul is the dividing line between the two continents where part sits in Asia while the other part lies in Europe.
Funny but our guide Burak said, "no one knows anything about Turkey." "They think we have camels running around and the land is all desert." He assured us that there were no camels in Turkey until we spotted this one. As we exited the bus I said to Burak, "you said there were no camels here." He said, "well maybe just one." This guy was set up at a tourist trap just for photos.
If You Ever Heard The Song "Ahab The Arab" Where Clyde The Camel Is Mentioned
Well.... Here We Have Clyde & The Camel
Touristy Stuff For Sale.....Plenty Of Evil Eyes
Notice The Slab Of Ice Cream Hanging From A Stick
It Was Not Appetizing
At Least They Were Being Honest......These Were Everywhere!
Unlike the rest of Europe where wine is sipped abundantly, in Turkey the drink of choice is called "raki." Raki (rah-kuh) or Arrack is a clear brandy made from grapes and raisins flavored with anise. Most raki is quite potent being 80-100% proof, which means it contains 40-50% alcohol. Usually diluted with water or ice to make it less potent, raki turns a milky white color and the Turks call it "lions milk." It is similar in flavor to the Greek ouzo.
The evil eye is a curse believed to be cast by an evil person. To protect ones family and property Turks believe they need to display an evil eye pendant. Most every business and home we went by had one prominently displayed over the front door. Our tour bus had one hanging in the front and we even saw pendants of eyes imbedded into the pavement of the road as we exited the bus.
These Suckers Were Everywhere Including For Sale At Tourist Traps
Turkey is a beautiful country that we'd love to explore again someday. From ancient sites, big cities, resort towns on the Aegean Sea and so much more for travelers like ourselves. Today we bid farewell to Turkey until our paths bring us here again for more explorations......along the gringo trail.