Ephesus, Turkey

Saturday, December 18, 2010

We drove up to the ancient city of Ephesus along with a herd of tour buses. Even in November the place was crawling with people. I can't imagine how awful it must be in the summer. We were disappointed to find that the tickets to get in weren't cheap, and a tour guide was even more expensive. So instead of a guide, we bought a cheap little book with photos and writing about the city. It wasn't much help because it was written in poor English and the information was uninteresting and pretty much useless.

Regardless, Ephesus is a very impressive city. It was an ancient Greek city, and later a major Roman city.  It was one of the twelve cities of the Ionian League during the Greek era. In the Roman period, it was the second largest city in the Roman Empire, behind the empire's capital of Rome. At it's prime in the 1st century BC, it had a population of 250,000, making it the second largest city in the world! The city has been extensively excavated and many of the ruins have been rebuilt. A major street runs through the ancient city, along which many recognizable buildings stand-- theaters, temples, baths, library, hillside homes, fountains, statues. The city is famous for the Temple of Artemis which no longer exists but is one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. I was shocked to learn that only about 15% of the city has been excavated.

We were particularly interested in the Biblical references-- Ephesus is one of the seven churches of Asia that are cited in the book of Revelations. Apostle Paul lived here and was involved with the congregation and missions around the city. Early Christians believed that if Ephesus could be converted to Christianity, the entire region would adopt the new faith. Paul wrote 1st Corinthians in Ephesus and was imprisoned here. Later Paul wrote the book of "Ephesians" which is a letter to the church of Ephesus while he was imprisoned in Rome. The gospel of John may also have been written in Ephesus. What is believed to be the last house of Mary, the mother of Jesus, is nearby, though we didn't have time to visit it. It felt marvelous to walk the same streets as important figures of the Bible. I find myself wishing again and again that I could travel back in time to see the city in its original splendor, with the people of the time walking the streets, not herds of geeky tourists.

Yuriy and I thought it was a little ironic how Turkish ruins and tourist activities are so much more expensive than most of the other places we've been, yet the ancient cities are built by Romans and Greeks, not Turks. In other words, an Italian or Greek has to pay money to a foreign nation to see their own people's cities. I wonder how they feel about that.

- Julia

Ukraine has been such an experience! We have been without internet for awhile as we travel through some disconnected places, thus the break in blogging. In the meantime, we've been working on a lot of posts... some of which include snow!


  1. I'm actually going to Turkey this coming Tuesday & your 2 entries have provided me an insight to what to expect when I'm there! (: I absolutely love your photographs! I really love the colours of the photographs, they're really bright & cheery + I also love the way the photographs are being conceptualised (: I'm aspiring to take some pretty shots like yours when I'm there in Turkey! (:

    p.s. Julia's really pretty! & the 2 of you look so good together!

  2. I have been following your posts from the beginning of your honeymoon. Wow! What a wonderful experience, and what spectacular pictures! I know in one post you noted that you are using Totally Rad Actions--which ones? And for those of us with only Photoshop Elements, do you have any suggestions on how we can sort of replicate "the look"?

    I can't wait for more posts!

  3. your pictures are lovely. i was there in august when it was around 95 degrees! yes it was sweltering, but the beauty made up for it!

  4. Jessica- You will love Turkey. It has so much diversity that I don't see how any traveler could not love it. Have fun with your camera!

    Michelle- Thanks for your interest... I have updated our FAQ about the actions we use. http://bit.ly/h8Uejj The only thing we do to our photos in Photoshop is apply the actions and maybe some cropping/straightening, so there's not much I can suggest without the actions.

  5. we didn't spring for a tour guide in ephesus either... which i kind of regretted. we did, however, take a book from our pension that had written descriptions & photos - it wasn't too bad! i felt like i learned more than when we were wandering around the acropolis with no book.

    and yes - in the summer it was sweltering + so crowded. the plus size of this is that we were sometimes able to stand near one of the million tour groups + listen to their tour guide a bit!!

    happy traveling in the ukraine! can't wait to hear about it!!


  6. yay! so glad to hear you guys didn't decide to stay in mother ukraine and abandon your herd of blog followers. and now i must go to turkey.

  7. I'm planning to go to Ephesus on a trip to Greece and Turkey this fall and your pictures have me drooling. I wish I was going next week and not this Fall!!! Not sure I can wait that long.

  8. Janis- I agree, a tour guide usually makes a historical city so much more interesting and educational. It was just such a rip off here!

    Jen Marie- How fun.. sounds like so many people do a Greece/Turkey trip which is such a perfect balance of relaxation and history lesson.