After a long, hot overnight bus we arrived bright and early to the little town of Selcuk. We walked a mere five minutes from the bus terminal and arrived at the lovely Hotel Bella – my review is up on Trip Advisor. We had a quick breakfast on the roof top patio and were promptly picked up by their free shuttle to the infamous Ephesus – the main reason to visit this pretty, laid back town.
Ephesus was the capitol of the Roman province of Asia Minor and a vibrant city of over 250,000 people. The present day site is one of Europe’s most complete classical metropolis ruins, and is truly impressive how much of the city is preserved. Compared to say the Roman Forum where I had my nose in a guide trying to identify piles of rock and crumbling archways, Ephesus easily allows you to imagine what life might have been like for the Ephesians.
Ephesus can take anywhere from 1.5 to 3 hours depending on the crowds. The vast site offers little shade though so it was HOT. Bring a hat, sunglasses and plenty of water!
Nike was a goddess who symbolized victory, also known as the Winged Goddess of Victory.
The Library of Celsus is one of the more impressive structures in Ephesus – check out how tiny we all look relative to the tall columns! The library was built to store 12,000 scrolls and to honour the Roman Senator Tiberius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus.
I loved all the relief detail on the roof of the first level of the library, and once again admired the preservation.
The four statues that stand tall across the front of the library symbolize wisdom (Sophia), knowledge (Episteme), intelligence (Ennoia) and valor (Arete) – the four virtues of Celsus.
I’m pretty proud of the fact that I didn’t take a photo of every cute kitty that came across my path in Turkey, but this sweet cat blended in perfectly with the stones around the Southern Gate, I just had to take a photo of this Ephesus kitty!
Just when you think you’ve seen the whole site, you come across this massive Grand Theatre – incredible!
I lost count of how many grape leaves I consumed while in Turkey – this was the first of many!
Later that afternoon, we walked over to the Ephesus Museum which holds artefacts from the Ephesus’ Terraced Houses and some statues that were deemed too fragile to display on site.
We ended our day by visiting St. John’s Basilica located across the street from our hotel. We were too late to visit the fortress, but could sneak a peak at it from the Basilica site.
This site was the basilica of Byzantine Emperor Justinian and was a beautiful, peaceful way to end our day. We were pretty much the only ones wandering around the ruins at magic hour, so we took our time snapping photos, drawing and reading. After the busy crowds of Ephesus, we welcomed this quieter change of pace.
Justinian was inspired to build the basilica here as it was rumoured that St. John wrote his gospel on this very hill and the 4th century tomb above supposedly housed St. John’s relics.
There were some friendly turtles hanging around the ruins and were quite amenable to having their photo taken!
I adored the charming main streets of Selcuk, adorned with green archways, vendors and outdoor patios. We were recommended to try the restaurant Tat and feasted on some crispy sardines, moist swordfish and sizzling meatballs, a most satisfying end to a long but fascinating day.