Looking out the window the following morning, we noticed a cruise liner had moored in the harbour and were advised to delay our trip to Ephesus until later in the morning. Deciding
to visit a nearby carpet factory, we watched the amazing skills of the young ladies who weave the carpets by hand using ethnic patterns from various regions of Turkey. Carpet weaving is an integral part of the rich cultural heritage of Turkey. Silk is also spun on site and interwoven into the fabric of some of the carpet designs, creating beautiful effects. To view some of their exquisite designs click on Turkish carpets.
Later in the day, after some refreshment, we visited the site of the ancient city of Ephesus. Thought to be founded in the 10th Century B.C. on a settlement known as Apasa ( a bronze age city from around 14th century; Hittite sources), most of the structures now excavated date from the period of the Roman Empire. Walking down the main street with the buildings of the Celsus Library in the distance gives the visitor an amazing sense of history as one imagines chariots clattering up the hill in Roman times.
Beautiful mosaic layed pedestrian walks were constructed to the side of the main thoroughfare.
The Celsus Library was completed in 117 A.D. as a Heroon or Mausoleum for the Roman Governor of the Asian province. The Library, together with the Temple of Artemis (Diana) and the Theatre, gave the city of Ephesus its renown during this period. The Library was made of marble and the figures seen between the doorways are Eros and Nike ( the originals are held in Vienna following the excavations). The building was built facing east so the readers could make best use of the morning sun. Leaving the Library and walking along Marble Street leads to the great Theatre. Built in 287 B.C. during the reign of Lysimachos, the Theatre of Ephesus underwent many changes over the centuries. Large enough to accommodate 25,000 patrons it was initially constructed for dramatic art, but later during the Roman period it staged gladiatorial contests as evidenced by the excavation of a gladiatorial graveyard in recent times. Ephesus had one of the most developed aqueductal systems in the ancient world. Supplied by four major aqueducts, a reticulation of smaller ducts supplied different areas of the city with running water including the public toilets. The latriana, paved in mosaics, was arranged around the sides of a square with a large pool in the middle. A major advance in hygiene for the time!
At its zenith in the 1st and 2nd centuries A.D., Ephesus had a population of between 400,000-500,000 people. Sacked by the Goths in 263 A.D. the city was rebuilt by Constantine 1. After being partially destroyed by an earthquake in 614 A.D. the city continued to decline as a commercial centre of trade. The major cause was the loss of its harbour due to silting by the neighbouring river.
Emerging from the Theatre, one is greeted by a marvellous view down Harbour Street. Five hundred metres in length, it was lined on both sides by covered porticos housing shops and protecting the citizens from inclement weather. The old harbour now lies five kilometres inland from the Aegean Sea.
Altogether, a memorable day! Click on History for a more detailed account of the history of this amazing city.