Thursday, April 25, 2013

Mediterranean Cruise (Part 7) - Izmir and Ephesus

Izmir is the third largest city in Turkey, after Istanbul and Ankara. It is also a much more modern city than Istanbul. Ephesus is about an hour's drive south from Izmir through hilly terrain composed mostly of metamorphosed marine sediments. In Ephesus, we saw a couple theaters, some temples, a fountain, and a stadium. My favorite was the library, at the time the third largest in the world after Alexandria and Pergamon. Peggy took a picture of me sitting on the steps. The columns that formed the facade of the library are composed of brecciated marble with white chunks of marble sitting in a fine grained black matrix. I imagine these columns were quite beautiful when polished. Had I lived here at the time, I can see myself having spent a lot of time here at the library. There is a lot of beautiful marble in Ephesus; even the streets are paved with  marble.

The Library at Ephesus

Saint John the Baptist is reported to have died here in Ephesus. Where he was supposedly buried, a Basilica was built. However, we didn't have time to see the remains of his church. Also, the Virgin Mary is rumored to have lived here. Our guide pointed out a small house on the hill above Ephesus as the supposed house of Mary. The only evidence for this seems to be a revelation that a woman at the end of the 18th century had that was confirmed by a local priest (not sure what that means). The house has been visited by three of the popes and has become a pilgrimage site for Catholics.

The large theater at Ephesus

The skies have been clear and sunny on this side of the Mediterranean and the temperature today probably got up into the 80s in Ephesus. Similar weather is forecast for Athens tomorrow.

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