Exploring Ephesus – Part 2

Continued from yesterday”¦ We exited the theater and continued up The Sacred Way. The left is mostly the theater. Beyond the theater on the left is a building some believe to be a private house, some believe to be a brothel.

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On the right is a big empty space that was once the town agora. The agora was once the heart of commerce for the city, and had colonnades and shops.

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Towards the end of The Sacred Way, there is a large gate. On both sides of the gates are some low buildings that appear to be a series of fairly small, single room dwellings. We are guessing they were shops.

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Passing the shops and entering the gate, you come to the crowning piece of Ephesus architecture, the Library of Celsus, built around 114 BC. The library was put in between two existing buildings, so it couldn’t be nearly as big and impressive as they had hoped. The architect used clever optical illusions to make the building look bigger than it is. For example, the pillars in the middle are fatter than the pillars at the sides so that the ones on the sides look farther away than they really are. The exterior ornamentation is absolutely beautiful. The photo below is of the exterior and the gate entering Sacred Way. The interior is quite plain, as once it was mostly rows of shelving to hold the 12,000 book collection. On Christi’s last trip, the guide said that there was an underground tunnel from the library to the brothel. She had also pointed out an ad for the brothel carved into the walkway near the library, but with so many people around, it wasn’t worth the effort to look for it.

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The Sacred Way ends in front of the library, making a T-intersection with Curetes Way. To the left is a series of very narrow corridors that run through a series of crumbling buildings. Some are crumbled all the way down to the foundation, some look rather in tact. We guess the corridors were probably once narrow streets and the buildings between them were probably houses. As is typical of old cities, the lanes were kind of a maze, with sharp turns, some winding, and a few dead ends.

Most of the tour groups stayed away from the majority of the winding little corridors, but every single one of the groups entered into a corridor not too far from the library entrance. We had to practically beat our way through the crowd, but we eventually made it into the room everyone wanted to see the men’s toilets. The men’s toilets were the social center, and when you see the photo, you’ll understand why. You are way to close to the guy next to you to not say hi and talk. One of the things that had impressed Christi on her last trip to Ephesus was the sophistication of the plumbing system. Since Ephesus was on a hill, they were able to set up sophisticated fresh and dirty water sewage systems that ran out into the sea. The toilets were built on top of the sewage line which always had a water flow, and 2,000 years ago they had what are essentially equivalent to flushing toilets.

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Maybe halfway up on the left side of Curetes Way is the Temple of Hadrian, built in 118 AD. The temple is small, and the aforementioned corridors and houses run behind the temple.

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On the right, at street level there are more of those low little buildings with the single rooms, and these are confirmed to be shops. Above the shops are the terraced houses, homes of the rich. Entrance into the houses were an extra fee. Christi hadn’t seen them last time, and Lonely Planet said they were worth the money, so we went in. It turned out to be our favorite part of Ephesus. Most look like they were two stories tall. The roofs are gone, and as you climb up the stairs between the houses, you can peer inside and see the incredible frescos on the walls and the intricate mosaics on the floors. Although it almost looks like a giant house with a zillion rooms, the signs make it clear where the lines are that separate the houses from one another. They were fairly good sized. Most, but not all, of the second stories are gone. The ones with second stories in tact really give you a sense of how high the ceilings were. The houses go fairly high up the hill. We exited at the top of the hill and walked down a flight of stairs back to Curetes Way.

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Back on Curetes Way, beyond the terraced houses and the Temple of Hadrian, there is another gate, the Gate of Hercules, built in the 4th century.

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Just before the gate, there was another walkway that T-intersectioned with Curetes way. We went down it. There are some ruins of what was once a temple dedicated to the emperor Domitian.

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Beyond the temple, it was mostly shops lining the road, but we could climb above the shops to a nice viewpoint of part of the ancient city.

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Once again back on Curetes Way, we walked through the gate. To the left are a few pieces of what was once a town hall and yet another temple.

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Beyond the pieces is the odium, which is a much smaller amphitheater. It was built in 150 AD to be used for town council meetings and music concerts. On the right it is an open area that was another agora. At this point, the ancient walkway ends and you are on a dirt path that leads you to the exit. As you approach the exit, you pass some non-descript buildings that were once baths and can catch a glimpse of what was once another gymnasium.

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We hopped back into the car and stopped for lunch at a nearby restaurant. We were surprised at how reasonable the prices were given it is probably the closest restaurant to Ephesus and the Ephesus museum. We had lunch, then headed back to Bodrum. There is certainly more to see in Selcuk, including the museum, the famous Temple of Artemis, Mary’s house and a necropolis. None interested Eric and Christi had already seen them. Besides, we needed to return the car soon, so we headed back to Bodrum.

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