Suitcase and World: Efes. Along Marble Way.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Efes. Along Marble Way.

The Library of Celcus in the background.

Today as an activity filled day - we went to see the ruins at Ephesus and then wandered through the weekly market in Selçuk.  We kicked off the day with doing a small round of laundry.  Our balcony was the perfect place to string up my line.  Of course, I had brought along laundry clips as well.....I do come prepared to be clean :-)

By the time we made it down for breakfast, it was obvious we were the last guests to do so.  The plates of food had already been set with food and there were only two plates left in the kitchen.  There were two men sitting at a table but they had already finished eating; they got up and left seconds after we arrived.

*J* or Ceyhan as he is known in Turkish was nowhere to be seen but his wife, Cheemi, who is Japanese, was manning the kitchen. 

Our breakfast as a typical Turkish breakfast - a little bit this and little bit of that along with some bread and cheese.  It never looks like a lot of food but remarkably you get filled up - I think it's the bread that does it.  Over breakfast, we chatted with Chiemi.  She is originally from Kobe, Japan and that's where she met *J*.  They've been married a few years and have a young daughter.  They bought the guesthouse about two years ago and had to do some renovation work before they could open for business.  This is their first year and they've got about 1/2 the rooms in use.  During high season, she has a cleaning woman helping out but since this is low season, it's just her and *J* that do it all - truly family owned and run. Chiemi is soft spoken but very friendly.....she does love to giggle :-)

Yesterday, I had told *J* that we were going to Efes, as the Turkish call Ephesus, today and that we wanted to take a dolmuş to get there.  He gave us directions on how to get to the dolmuş stand - seemed very straightforward so that's where we headed right after we finished breakfast.

Down the street, take the first right hand turn, past the mosque, take a left.  Go to the second roundabout and just past that we would see the vans.  Easy peasy and we got there in about 10 minutes. There were a few mini vans lined up.  The moment we neared them, I heard a man shout, "Efes" while pointing towards his vehicle.  I don't know what it is about humans but it's almost as if I hadn't heard him.  Two feet from him, I asked, "Efes?"  He nodded and waved us on to board and so we did.  There were already some tourists in the seats.  We took two spots behind the driver.  It was Bro's first dolmuş experience and I tried to set his expectations by telling him it was basically a shared *taxi* except it's a van and that it shuttles people going between small towns.  There is no published time for when they come and leave - you arrive and find/wait for an available van.  Then, when the van fills up, it leaves and the driver keeps making runs til he's decided he's done for the day. 

Our ride to Efes cost us 5 lira each.  Unbelievably reasonable.

Dolmuş selfie.

We waited for a short while for a few more folks to board and then off we went, heading back in the direction of Izmir - Efes is located just off the same main road.

We followed a watermelon truck out of town.  It was likely headed to the market at Selçuk.

Along the way, we stopped to pick up more passengers - tourists.  Some appeared to be just standing on the roadside and others at a spot that looked to be a bus stand.  In any event, as many got on board as there were places to sit or stand.  Yes, they stood and some were too tall to fully stand upright so they hunched over.  Bro had a good chuckle when the driver handed one man a small plastic stool to sit on.

The driver knew we were heading to Efes so when we had arrived, he pulled over to the roadside and let us off.  From the sign, we figured out we had 1 kilometer walk to the entrance.  Everyone else remained on board - they were continuing on to Selçuk.

Bro headed down the road, for a few seconds, we weren't sure we were going in the right direction. It took a tour bus whizzing by to confirm that we were indeed walking towards the ruins.  There was no sidewalk to walk on but thankfully, few cars going by so it was okay to walk on the road.  It was already getting to be a warm day and the sun was shining as bright as it could.  I was glad I had brought my hat and water along. We passed a few orchards.  I had to remind Bro that he cannot forage tempting as it might have been :-)

It wasn't a long walk but I was glad to see the parking lot and beyond that, the entry and the ticket booth.  We had arrived!  Looking at the entrance, I realized we were entering on the northern end of the site.   On my first visit here in May 2008, we arrived at the southern entrance (in the direction of the Koressos Gate) which means I will be seeing the site from a very different perspective and I'm sure I will see things that I did not notice on my first visit. It also means we get to walk uphill, through the site today.....downhill is much easier :-)

Bro did his duty and got us our tickets.  We had to buy separate tickets for the main site and for the Terrace Houses.

After you pass the ticket gates, you walk down a tree line street that leads you to the main site.

If there's one gripe I have about Efes is that the signage here is really bad and they don't hand out any sort of a map or brochure when you buy your ticket.  This day and age, you think you could purchase your ticket online and download the brochure/map on to your mobile device as pretty much EVERYBODY carries some sort of a mobile device with them.  Maybe that will be the norm one day but for now, thank God for the guidebook.  

Bro doing a bit of reading on Efes and looking at the site map.

The first set of ruins we came upon were those of the Theatre Gymnasium, which back in 125 AD was a bathing/gymnasium complex with an open courtyard that served as a space for both physical training activities and meditation.

Ruins of the Theatre Gymnasium in the foreground, right.  Tiered seats of the Great Theatre in the background.

From the ruins of the Theatre Gymnasium, we walked over to the Great Theatre.  Built into the slope of Panayır Dağı, this is the Roman reconstruction (41-117 AD) of the earlier theater built by Lysimachus during the Hellenistic Period (between the 3rd and 1st centuries BC).  The theatre seats 25,000 and is still used today for performances and special events.

Entering in to the Great Theatre

Panorama Great Theatre Efes
Panoramic shot of the Great Theatre. Use the scroll bars to pan to see the entire photo.

We climbed to the last row of seats for a spectacular view of the site.  From here, we had a wonderful view of the avenue known as the Marble Way which leads from the theatre to the harbor.  Back in the heyday of Efes, the avenue was a grand one, complete with colonnades, fountains, monuments and even street lights along it;  water and drainage conduits ran beneath its marble paving stones.

The Grand Theatre with the straight white line of the Marble Way leading towards the water.

It's not just the view that is amazing from up to, so are the acoustics. A man, standing in front of the raised platform (stage?) started to sing.  He wasn't shouting but I could hear him as clear as if I were standing right next to him!

Impromptu Performance at the Great Theatre.

Marble Way runs past the Great Theatre, connecting the theatre to the rest of the site.

The stretch of Marble Way close to the Great Theatre.

About halfway down Marble Way and you can see the tin roof of the structure that protects the Terrace Houses.

Alongside Marble Way are the ruins of the ancient Agora.
The Agora.

As you would expect, there are a lot of ruins just lying here and there.


Plaques.  I was particularly fascinated by this one because of the lettering on the bottom.  Have no idea what culture it's from.

The stretch of Marble Way close to the Library of Celcus.  The Great Theatre is in the very, very far distance.

Marble Way ends where the most iconic landmark of Efes stands, the famed Library of Celcus. It is easily recognizable!  I took a gazillion photos and there's a good reason why.  The first time I was here in 2008, I barely knew how to use my camera and I barely took any photos.  Who knows if I will ever be back.  So this time, I fired away.  Here are just a few of the photos I took.

All that is left of this structure is its facade and it's undeniable that the facade is gorgeous; the detail of the carving of the sculptures and reliefs far surpass anything that I have seen at any other Greco Roman site that I have been to.  It is worthy of all the attention I can give it!

The Library of Celcus was built in honor of the Roman Senator Tiberius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus by his son, Gaius Julius Aquila. The library was built to store 12,000 scrolls and to serve as a monumental tomb for Celsus who is buried in a sarcophagus beneath the library. 

Looking at the relief work, you can clearly see what is original and what is reconstruction.  The darker, terracotta colored pieces are the reconstructions - the nose is too sharp to have survived all these centuries.

Although he was Greek by birth, Celcus served in several positions in the Roman government and was a wealthy and popular local citizen.  Walking around the library, you'll see plaques, written in both languages, standing side by side.

To one side of the Library of Celcus was a structure, the Gate of Augustus, with its three archways.  On the other side is the Agora.

Columns of the Agora.

From the Agora looking back at the Library of Celcus.

Finishing up at the Library of Celcus, we still have a whole lot of Efes to see. The rest of our visit will take us up along Curetes Way, in to the heart of the ancient city.