Troy, Pergamon, Ephesus & Virgin Mary’s Home

Trip Start May 04, 2011
Trip End Feb 20, 2014

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Ruins and Religion

Flag of Turkey  , Izmir,
Sunday, April 28, 2013

We left the Gallipoli Peninsula at 8am on the 27th to head south towards Troy. This involved a ferry crossing of the Dardanelles, the strait that the ANZAC's were trying to secure. There is not much left of Troy and the replica Trojan Horse is a kids playground of sorts that is under renovation. It was hard to visualise what Troy looked like and I kept thinking of the Brad Pitt/Eric Bana movie to think how grand and wealthy this city used to be. Most interesting is that its sea frontage has been silted up by the two rivers that flow here and the coast is now miles from the city walls.

From Troy we lunched and then headed further south to Pergamon, which is an ancient city situated on a high hill. It has Greek and Roman influences (like most archaeological sites around here) and was actually a lot better than I expected. The columns from the temples and squares are well preserved and interesting to see how they piped water around and stories of life in the times. The insanely steep theatre is a main attraction and very impressive, along with the underground chambers. A lot of the Pergamon artefacts, including the Zeus Temple are in a Berlin Museum....guess what’s been added to my future travel list. Interesting fun facts about Pergamon: the Emperor frequently fell asleep during theatre productions and the attendees weren’t allowed to leave until he left first, so they started clapping at the end of the production to wake him so they could go home – and this is supposedly how clapping to show appreciation started; the marble and some artefacts were taken from here to build Hagia Sophia in Istanbul (similar to the pillaging of the Colosseum to build St Peter’s Basilica). 

We drove for a few hrs south and over-nighted in Selcuk, the town closest to the ruins of Ephesus which was the ancient capital of Turkey prior to Roman Emperor Constantine moving the capital to Byzantine and renaming it after himself as Constantinople (present Istanbul). By now we had picked up 5 extra people (from Coffs Harbour) and the original tour group had just dwindled down to 3 solo travellers. Despite paying extra for the 'Comfort’ tour option, I was placed in a shared room with the other solo male traveller in a basic hotel where the shower was possessed, the toilet leaked and no top sheet to protect me from the itchy grey rug. I didn’t necessarily mind sharing, but I’ve never been a hostel 2-star accom person. I respect and wonder at those that can do this and everytime I think of the money saving (e.g. 10 euro a night in a hostel dorm versus 120 for a hotel room!) I get put off by the conditions, questions from others like ‘so what do u do for work’ and think I’m too old for that now. 

 I was awake early on the 28th for my final day in Turkey. Not because I was excited or the prayer call, but because the room was brighter than the surface of Venus due to the pathetic curtains. After the worst breakfast of the tour, we set off about 9 am for our tour of Ephesus. We were with yet another group of people and the 5 from Coffs Harbour were not with us. Oh well, just go with the flow. We were all looking forward to seeing the Ephesus tour as all previous places visited had referenced Ephesus as being ‘bigger, better’ and I had heard great things from family friends who travelled there last year. Our tour guide for this one was great and never felt rushed or bored. Ephesus has very interesting history and is a place where some Apostles came to live out their lives, along with the Virgin Mary. Some of the ruins have been largely restored with the help of modern day concrete works but the further down the town towards the sea it becomes better preserved. The Greek history and Asian influence is what sets this apart from the Roman Forum or Hadrian’s Villa. Some of us paid the 15 Lira extra to visit inside a covered compound that protects excavations of the wealthy terrace houses that have some very well preserved mosaics and artwork. Huge houses and so close together. Just boggles my mind to think I am walking on the same ground/paths of those who lived here thousands of years ago and to wonder what their life was like and what they would think of us today.   

After the Ephesus tour, we had the best lunch/food I’ve eaten in Turkey this trip. Fresh and exotic flavours in a grassy lawn setting where there were a few shops to explore and a carpet making tour. Of course they try to sell you carpets but all expensive ($15k for one), but considering one person would spend 1-3 years on the same carpet it is the labour that you pay for. Following lunch we drove up another steep hill to the supposed final home of the Virgin Mary. Fascinating place to visit and largely reconstructed. They are expecting the new Pope to visit in the coming months as a tradition establish by John Paul II. We then scooted back down to the valley to visit the very few remnants of the Temple of Artemis. This was a highlight for me as it ticks off another "Seven Wonders of the World"...this one obviously an Ancient Wonder. The area is now a swamp as they have stopped pumping the water out for some reason. 1 pillar has been stacked back together, but other than that it is simply your imagination that needs to appreciate the scale of this temple. Fascinatingly, when the temple was damaged by earthquakes and began to fall into disrepair, they took the marble to build 3 buildings in the background – St John’s Basilica, the fort and a mosque. Thousands of years of evolved history in one viewing. Incredible to think.

By this stage, I was a bit brain numbed by all the extra info and history lessons and good to wrap up the tour and head back to the hotel to re-arrange my bag and enjoy an Efes beer (Turkish for Ephesus) prior to the airport transfer collecting 2 of us for our 45 min flight back to Istanbul. I had some time at the Istanbul airport to reflect on such a great tour this has been. Despite its lack of some basic organisation, everything I saw was what I wanted to see. Perfect snapshot of these parts of Turkey. This country has a lot of interesting sites to see and I’m sure I’ll be back...for the third time!
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globalchild on

Looks amazing! Hope you had a great time.

MG on

Really great photos! Definitely places I want to get to. Also, like the "where's waldo" theme you've got going on ;)

Caitlyn on

Amazing! I'm a bit behind on the blogs but catching up now. Once R in bed and H watching Play School I begin my Turkish journey... vicariously through your blog. The library is awesome. And the houses. And the watches - I hope you bought several.

travellingross on

Thanks for the comments people :-)
Yep, Caitlyn I bought watches for everyone's bdays for next 5 yrs...jj. Hope u enjoyed your Turkish journey.

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