Monday, April 20, 2009. Kusadasi means "bird island", and it's known for its turquoise water and superb location on the Aegean region, on a gulf with a large marina. The archeological discoveries made in this region are considered to be the most important in all of Turkey. We first came across the ruins of Ephesus, a busy town in ancient times. The houses were spacious, some two storied. They had running water, and hot and cold central heating & cooling systems. There were schools (the word Scholastic had its origins here), libraries, and amphitheaters. The town was constructed in various levels, and it was hard walking up & down the well preserved streets.
Our guide showed us the public latrines, as well as some gigantic Priapus sculptures. She also said that there was a tunnel connecting the library and a nearby brothel, so a man could pretend to be "at the library', when in reality he was frequenting the brothel. There was a foot imprint on the floor, and if your foot covered it, you were old enough to frequent the "house of ill repute".
Above: library, foot imprint, tunnel, and amphitheater.
About 9 kms. from Ephesus, at the top of the Bulbul Mountain, is the Shrine of the Virgin Mary. It is the place where, supposedly, Mary spent her last days; she might have come to this area together with St. John after the Crucifixion. They spent several years here spreading the Gospel.
Her house is a reconstruction, built in the 1940s, since the original dwelling was destroyed in a fire. It's a typical Roman structure, entirely made of stones. The original two storied house consisted of an anteroom, bedroom, praying room, and a room with a fireplace, as well as a front kitchen. Today only the central part, where an altar has been built, and a room to its right, are open to the visitors. I wish they had preserved it as a house, as they did with many other dwellings of the time. The place feels more like a church as it is.
The natural surroundings are extremely beautiful and serene. There is a sense of peace throughout. Upon leaving we came across an empty water reservoir, and a statue of the Virgin Mary bid us farwell.
Next stop in Kusadasi was the site of the Temple of Artemis, once considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The whole area has turned into a swamp, and one can only see the ruins of the foundations of this marvelous construction of the Hellenistic age, made entirely of marble in honor of Artemis, a Greek goddess of abundance; sometimes she's called Cynthia, from her birthplace, Mount Cynthus, in Delos. The most beautiful remains are in the British Museum in London.
Next stop was a cooperative enterprise, where we had a delicious lunch al fresco. The co-op was a mixture of farm and light crafts industry, and of course, hand weaving of rugs. We were shown the hand looms, the spools of virgin wool, which are dyed right here, the vats were the silkworms were kept, and the different processes involved in rug making. They showed us some beautiful hand-made Turkish rugs, and they said if we wanted, they would mail them home free of charge, since the Turkish government would pay the postal fee as a gesture of good will, and to promote local wares. They were awesome carpets. I wish I'd needed one.
The guide took us back to our ship, where after dinner we went to sleep, exhausted from all our Kusadasi adventures.