Imagine a land where you can find a blend of Christian, Muslim, Agnostic and Jewish faiths are all accepted. Now imagine an area so diverse that it holds many summer resorts, some of the most important places in all of Antiquity AND the final resting places (or assumptions into heavenly glory, as we were corrected) of St John and the Virgin Mary... I bet you didn't think we would be describing Ephesus,Turkey.
The Ephesus and the Kusadasi area completely shocked and pleasantly surprised us. We arranged for a private tour through Trip Advisor reviews with a company that sent us a tour guide named Samiy. We were in for a treat. Samiy is a linguistics professor with a Masters in Archaeology and History. Can you get any more knowledgeable? We felt like we were Indiana Jones himself!
First stop, the Church & final resting place of St John. This was a very peaceful area, which overlooked the farmlands of Ephesus, as well as one of the local Mosques. In the distance, we saw what remained of the Temple of Artemis, which had been taken apart as the popularity of Christianity grew. The Church of St John actually had some of the marble and stone from the Temple of Artemis used for its structure. Turkey is surprisingly religious and rich in Christian history. The area is constantly being excavated and more things are discovered as the years go by.
Next stop was a local pottery shop. The artisan pottery maker created three pieces before our very eyes within 4 minutes. Craftsmanship and Originality are very important to the Turks. No "Made in China" pieces... LOL. The Turkish people are also very welcoming. I must have heard "this is your home" over a dozen times. Everyone speaks English too. The American influence is very prevalent. Almost everything is in both Turkish and English. They also accept the USD and the Euro as currency, along with the Turkish Lira.
The House of Mother Mary (House of the Virgin Mary) was a revering experience. This is where Mother Mary, the mother of Christ, was believed to have spent the last years of her life before being assumed into heavenly glory. Sidebar: Nelson asked Samiy at what age did Mary pass away, and he was immediately corrected. "She was assumed into heavenly glory, its not said that she died". BUT, the short answer was 65 or 66. It was very interesting to hear his reverence for the religion, history and beliefs that he held. We WILL be coming back to Ephesus to see him. I know it.
Then came Ancient Ephesus...
Imagine a place so old (over 3000-4000 years) with so much life and history still within its walls that it actually gives you chills when you walk down one of the avenues because the structures came to life in your mind... Well, at least in our minds. We took so many pictures, but nothing can describe the works of art and the history trapped within the stones. For the next two hours we slowly walked and listened to the stories of the ancient pieces that had been trapped in rubble, buried under catastrophic earthquakes, and only recently (in the last 100 years) brought to life once more by many teams of skilled archaeologists.The Greek Theatre, Hadrians temple and the Library of Celsius are only a few of the pieces that we came across. The pictures tell the story much better than I can.
Samiy is your guy... Ask for him, he'll make the experience unforgettable