Religion · Shopping · Travel

Day Eleven, Part the Second: more ruins, I am spoiled, and we visit the Virgin Mary.

So we continue our heroine’s adventure in Ephesus.

We started by walking through the city, and spotted another Maltese Cross (aka the one with all the isosceles triangles). Stalked by countless kitties (!) we visited the first agora, and took a closer look at the roads, which were original, too. There were even speed bumps and manhole covers! We spotted the Heraclese Gate, which stopped traffic from entering the shopping centre. It was covered in fabulous statues, and was topped – or, rather, used to be topped – with a frieze of Nike (not the just do it variety, the deity) which could be found a few metres away. There was also the Nymphaeum Traiani, which is basically a giant fountain which was donated by a wealthy family to honour Artemis of Ephesus and Emperor (CE98-117). The original structure was moist 10m tall, and in the centre stood Trajan, his foot on a globe (note: this is way before our renaissance thinkers figured out the world was round). There was also the Temple of Hadrian, which was supposed to be for another emperor, but that emperor died while the monument was being constructed, so it was re-dedicated. It was built around the mid first century CE, and had a frieze which showed the founding of Ephesos. The detail was quite beautiful.
I should note, everything you will see in the photos below (and once I format them , herein) has, unless otherwise noted, been laboriously reconstructed by archeologists. I have a few photos of these efforts, which you will see, but it is incredible to think that at one point this was simply flat land covering bits and pieces of rock.
After this, we visited the men’s latrines. Seriously. It is all open, with a garden in the middle and musicians.
Wish I had a garden and musicians while I used the facilities.
We saw more kitties (they look so sporty, unlike my lazy little puffs at home. Tsk.) and then one of the biggest libraries in the ancient world – connected to what is suspected to be the brothel.
It is hilarious.
You could walk into the library, and take a tunnel into the brothel.
Now, Daghan’s explanation for the relative presence of both in the same space as the latrines and the shops and the port – this is where all the big shots would be, as well as all the sailors. Where else would a brothel, latrine, library, shopping, shipping, and agora be than where those men would be? And of course it would be better if you can enter the library so everyone thinks you’re going there, but actually you go to the brothel – it’s like getting action between the sacks, but better.
Not that I’ve ever fooled around in a library. Seriously, for an English major, it has been a long while since I was really in a library for long enough to do anything. And if I was, I was actually studying.
Stop laughing, it’s true!
The library was amazing. Like I said, one of the biggest in the ancient world, behind the Egyptian one at Alexandria, and the one we later visited at Pergamon. It was two stories tall outside, and three inside, and held upwards of 20,000 scrolls. It was covere in friezes and was once covered in statues (which are currently in a couple of museums around the world). Oh swoon.
Screw the Beauty and the Beast library; I want that one.
Or maybe the next one, but that, my friends, is another blog post.
So we were released at this point, and he pointed out where, under a giant frosted building, there were the ruins of the terrace houses. AKA where I will have one of my future summer homes. But seriously, these were right by the city centre that we had just been exploring, and overlooked the port. They had beautiful mosaics and baths and frescos and vaulted ceilings and indoor plumbing. And inside the compound, archeologists are working on reconstructing the whole. Damn. Thing.
It is like the most amazing jigsaw puzzle ever. They are using as much of the original tile as they can, and have all the pieces laid out all over tables, trying to figure out what went where. It was really cool to see how these archeologists work on these ancient ruins and put them back together again.
We visited the main gate as a group, which is huge and impressive, of course. We then went down the road that leads down to the Amphitheater. This amphitheater, by the way, is huge. Holds like 25,000 people, and had around 40,000 people there when Elton John performed there.
Meandered away through the shops, and back on the bus for our ride to the leather factory. The factory was pretty fun, though not as informative for me as I visited one of the leather factories associated with my current workplace. Cool nonetheless, though, as here they use lamb leather rather than cow, and so it is much softer and much finer. I am very glad I didn’t buy anything I’m my work, as I definitely found a coat I loved here. Mid length, nice collar, cool buttons, and a belt. I was going to buy it myself (I swear; I even mentioned a few posts ago that I didn’t buy anything at the pottery place because I was saving for the leather place) but my grandma sort of too over. She also got us “the Turkish price” since technically, she isn’t a tourist; she is a citizen. She also speaks and language (which is another reason that the next time I come, I will speak Turkish. Determined).
After the leather factory, after everyone asked why I wasn’t wearing my coat (in the 32+ degree heat), we visited – yes, ladies and gentlemen, religion time – the house of the Virgin Mary. This, it is said, was the house of Mary after the death of Jesus. There are a few reasons they think this was her house. One is that there is a very old church near by called the Church of the Virgin Mary (or something to that effect) and back in the time is was built, you could only dedicate a church to a person if he or she had lived or died in the area.
Random aside: we are currently driving over Mount Ida from whence Zeus was said to have watched the Trojan war, on our way to Troy.
I wonder if the gods would still watch our wars today.
Just a thought.
Mary’s house.
The other reason they believe this house to be Mary’s house is that a nun had a vision of a house exactly fitting this description, and then a few centuries later this place was discovered. It was in ruins, mostly, but between the cistern and the ruins and the trees and everything else they figured this was it, so they fixed it up and there it stands. The water still flows, and it is considered holy water. The house isn’t very big; just a couple small rooms and an altar. A few of the popes have visited this place, and they’ve left rosaries and other things. We walked through and I donated some change for a candle. Lit it outside. there used to be a tree where people would tie wishes, but too many people came and it’s he number of wishes killed the tree.
Sort of poetic, isn’t it?
I bought my Nonna a small medal of the Virgin (it is a sort of medieval rendering rather than the classic renaissance one. I hope she likes it) and we hopped back in the bus to proceed to a small museum close by with a few frescoes and statues and pieces from ancient life. I’ve already mentioned a few above, but we also saw some ancient medical instruments (terrifying) and a few other small pieces.
After this, to the hotel we went.
That was our day. It was quite the adventure.
One interesting thing, and then I’ll close it off for now. One of the ladies we are traveling with commented on how lucky I am since my grandmother had spoiled me do much this trip. I assured her that I try very hard not to take advantage of this generosity. That is to say, when we are home, I do not often buy me things. I try to make our dates involve things that are at home or anywhere but a store to try and stop her from getting me things. She (the lady) told me that she could tell, and that it seemed to make Gma happy to be able to spend money on me. I still feel bad, sometimes, letting her spend money on me (recall, my inability to enjoy the spa thing, too).
I need to figure this out.
We just passed the river Ida, where Paris gave Aphrodite the golden apple in the first beauty contest.
It is dammed now.
The hotel in Izmir = awesome.

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