We left Bodrum early on Sunday for our drive to Izmir. That is about 250 km (155 miles). The big stop for the day was Ehpesus.
Ephesus qualifies as old, even for this part of the world. It’s hard to know what is true, but we were told that there was a settlement here in 6,000 B.C. and that it was colonized by the Greeks in 1,000 B.C. It was an important city when Alexander the Great captured it. (shortly before he captured Bodrum). Ephesus used to be a port city, but the harbor silted up, and now you would be hard-pressed to find the sea.
After the Greeks, the Romans took over and they were followed by the Byzantines, the Seljuks, and the Ottomans. In other words, it was in a good location, it was worth something and that made it worth taking over.
What we saw was the ruins of the city as it existed in the 3rd Century B.C. Our guide (Cen, but call me “John”) clearly knows this place. He was sometimes too anxious to tell us things. Nevertheless, we had a great 2 and a half hours tramping the streets, wandering through the old buildings, climbing to the 25,000 seat theater (no typo: 25,000), and walking down the same processional road that welcomed Anthony and Cleopatra. We spent time in the reconstructed Library, which at one time held as many as 18 thousand scrolls. We heard that this was the second largest library outside Alexandria—but we heard the same thing in Pergamon on Monday—but whether it was or not, it was impressive. Supposedly, St. Paul gave speeches in that same theater. [Archeological note: how do you know if a theater is of Greek or Roman origin? If it is built into the side of a hill, it is Greek.]
I think we particularly liked walking down one of the main streets and stopping at every building while John tried to get us to “feel” what it must have been like to live here then. The Golden Age of the city was in the 2nd Century B.C. when the population was as large as 300,000. Over time, as the harbor silted up, the city lost some of its importance and its glory faded. If you visit today, you probably would not think of the decline because such a good job has been done with the restoration.
When we finished at Ephesus, we completed the drive to Izmir—once called Smyrna. The city itself is large (about 5 million, we were told) and the parts we saw were not particularly interesting. However, we are close to the sea here and we walked down to see a beautiful sunset. While we were walking around, we discovered a bunch of plastic, decorated cows, sort of like the pigs a few years ago in Seattle.
I posted some pictures in the picture gallery, but as I keep saying, I can’t translate what I see into photographs.