R and R, and ancient ruins

Trip Start Jul 24, 2006
Trip End Sep 08, 2006

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Flag of Turkey  ,
Friday, September 1, 2006

After six weeks of travel and sightseeing, we decided it was high time for some rest and relaxation and headed to the Çesme peninsula for a few days of sitting on the beach. We took the bus Ilica and, not knowing where we were going to stay, walked into the first travel agency we came across. This plan, or lack thereof, worked out quite well as they booked us into a nearby 5 star resort at a significant discount - about 65 Canadian dollars per night, including breakfast and dinner. We had a lovely time sitting by the Aegean Sea, reading, taking the odd swim, and enjoying the delicious food of Aegean Turkey, one of the main regions for fruit growing in Turkey.

We did manage to see the famous Roman ruins at Ephesus and the house of the Virgin Mary by taking a day trip from Ilica.

Ephesus was one of the great cities of the Ionian Greeks in Asia Minor, and was the regional capital during the Roman empire. Ephesus is known for the Temple of Artemis - the largest building of the ancient world and one of the Seven Wonders of the World (only one reconstructed column remains) - for its library, and for its theatre, which would have been capable of holding 25,000 spectators. The theatre was open to the sky and was used initially for drama, but during later Roman times gladiatorial combats were also held on its stage. The population of Ephesus has been estimated to be in the range of 400,000 to 500,000 inhabitants, making it the largest city in Roman Asia and one of the largest cities of the day. Ephesus also had several major bath complexes, built at various points while the city was under Roman rule. The city had one of the most advanced aqueduct systems in the ancient world. The archaeological site at Ephesus has only been partly excavated; it is estimated that it will take another 200 years before the entire site is fully uncovered.

Atop one of the hills surrounding Ephesus is the site believed by many to have been the last home of the Virgin Mary. It is believed by many Christians and Muslims that Mary was taken to the house by Saint John after the crucifixion of Jesus, and lived there until her assumption into Heaven according to Catholics and Orthodox. Christians believing in the godly qualities of the Virgin Mary come here and drink from the water believed to be sacred. Muslims acknowledge her holiness by tying pieces of fabric, paper or plastic to a wall near the house.

Overall we had an amazing time in Turkey. We were very happy finish the trip on such a high note and in a place that was quite different from the other cities we had seen. The Turks were unfailing friendly an hospitable towards us, the country is beautiful, there are an unbelievable number of historical sites to see - all in all, many reasons to return!
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