The Ionian region

Trip Start Jun 01, 2012
Trip End Aug 16, 2012

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Flag of Turkey  , Turkish Aegean Coast,
Sunday, June 10, 2012

June 11 we are picked up from our hotel and drive north from Kusadasi to the small town of Selcuk where our first stop is St Johns Basilica. Believed to be the tomb of the Apostle John, the deciple to whom Jesus is said to have entrusted the care of his mother Mary, the ruins stand atop a hill overlooking the Temple of Artemis and the Isa Bey Mosque.

A brief walk through the ruins of the Basilica, which is structured in much the same cross configuration as other Christian ruins we have visited. Much of the structure has been damaged or removed. There is a resident population of turtles which presumably migrate back and forth from the pool adjacent to the temple of Artemis at the bottom of the pool. From there a short walk down the hill to the Isa Bey Mosque, a small rural mosque with quite picturesque decoration and a standout for its wooden frame in the dome of the roof (they ar usually of stonework) and the only one we have seen with garden in the courtyard.

A short drive further down the hill brings us to the site of the temple of Artemis (the Roman deity known by the Greeks as Diana) the goddess of fertility. While this is one of the 7 ancient wonders of the world ( I must find out why?) the only remaining standing structure is a single column, of only medium size.

After lunch a short drive brings us to the ruins of ancient Ephesus, and these ruins truly are spectacular. We enter down the street of traders which with very little imagination we can view as a busy commercial thoroughfare. Past the public bathhouse ( to which visitors are directed as they enter to remove the travel grime) , adjacent is the public toilet complex with its communal seating which our guide tells us was a centre for relaxation and gossip (I am not convinced ! ). The bath house is uphill from the toilets and the plumbing to allow the water from the baths to clean the toilets is still evident. Not far away is the council chamber, the structure of which is similar to a small theatre ( probably appropriate) .

At the end of this thoroughfare we overlook the main square which is bounded by substantial public buildings, the most impressive of which is the Library with its quite ornate columns. Moving on we come to the public theatre, a substantial amphitheater with a raised stage area. Outside the theatre our attention is drawn to a discrete signing in the pavement in the shape of a foot and some script. An apt position for the ladies of the night to advertise? Perhaps.

Our final stop for the day is the house of the Virgin Mary. Located on a hill some way out of town, the location was established from a vision received by a crippled nun, resident in Germany. Local church officials were convinced of the authenticity as her directions to the site were quite explicit. Only foundations were found but a small Chapel structure has been erected there.

Back to the hotel for a dip in the Aegian, very salty. A cleansing dip in the hotel pool to wash of the salt and dinner in the hotel dining room.

June 12 and we drive south from Kusadasi, first stop is Prienne, a former important city of the Ionian civilization in this region. The ruins are quite substantial but not spectacular. Then to Didyma, and the sanctuary of Apollo and this is quite a spectacular site. Never completed because of its immense scale, the sanctuary was added to by a number of rulers including Alexander the Great. It stands aloof from any residential enclave, being an oracular sanctuary similar to Delphi. While it is in ruins, the ruins have survived the depredations of the ages simply through the immense size of the construction elements, with columns over 2 meters in diameter , and building blocks in the walls of similar gigantic proportions.

Final stop for the day is ruined Miletus, another important settlement of the Ionian period , built defensively on the upper slopes of a hill.

Our final night with our guide Savas and a delicious meal at a local fish restaurant overlooking the sea. The main dish suggested to us by Savas is Grouper baked whole in a crust of salt. Excellent choice, I suspect trout or flathead ( reasonable size) would be very good like this.
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