The Ruins of Ephesus

You will surely will like to walk between Selcuk and the ruins of Ephesus in the evening, but during the day it's hot but you can drag it where you want and you can zoom in as you wish. Go to the dolmush and bus station on the highway to catch a bus or Kusadas? dolmush. Either will drop you a kilometer from the entrance, but as you walk through ruins to get there, you can consider it all part of your tour.

For the House of the Virgin Mary, which is several miles away on top of a mountain, a taxi is about the only way to get there.

You pass some ruins on the way to the entrance gate, Mount Pion is on your left, with the city's big theater scooped out of its side. The original seats are gone, the marble having been used to build other things when the city was moved from this site to where it is now. Leading from the theater to what was once the waterfront is the marble-paved Arcadian Way. The silting-up of the harbor was one of the prime reasons for the decline of the city, and the waters of the Aegean are now almost a mile from the end of this street.

Walk down the marble pavement and you'll come to the Port Baths on the right, built by the Emperor Constantine II, which haven't been fully excavated yet, but are worth a look because of their sheer size. You might have noticed that there's an empty space under the Arcadian Way. Trenches that were part of the city's complex plumbing system are under all of the main streets. Turn right in front of the theater, and, walking down this street, you'll be able to see a good deal of this system. At the end of the street is the Brothel, to which a lot of the clay water pipes were headed, because the Brothel's many pools and fountains required a great deal of running water. Take a look inside, and don't miss the floor mosaics.

Ruins of Ephesus

Incidentally, hidden in a maze of little walkways behind and to the right of the Brothel is an old hand pump which brings up the most glorious fresh cold spring water from a hidden well. Don't be afraid to stick your head under the spout on one of Ephesus's many very hot days, there's nothing like it.

Across the street from the Brothel, what would you expect to find? The library, of course! This one is the famous Library of Celsus built in honor of Celsus by his son. The elder Celsus is buried in a vault under the floor at the rear of the library (you can peek in at the vault through little openings cut out of the stone). The library held a rich collection of manuscripts and scrolls, all protected by special insulation: there's a system of double walls with an air space in between.

Continuing along the street, following it up the hill, you pass the Temple of Hadrian on the left, one of Ephesus's most impressive temples. The head of Hydra over the door is to keep evil spirits out. Across the street, the honeycomb of tunnels, arches, and alleys is actually a residential section for the wealthy. The houses are tiny, but in the days of the close-knit community there were public places for reading, eating, bathing, and talking, thus no need to have space for these things at home. The Odeon, or small theater, near the Magnesia Gate at the end of the marble way, is a real jewel and in a good state of preservation. Forget the heat and walk all the way to the end to see it.


If you're a good scrambler and have suitable clothes, take off across the fields at the end of the Arcadian Way toward the Aegean in order to climb to St. Paul's Prison, not really a prison but a square guard tower in the old Hellenistic walls which surrounded the city.

The walls run along the top of the mountain ridge to the south. From this tower there's a grand view of the city, the plain, Selçuk, and the Aegean. A second choice for a look at the whole area is from the top of Mount Pion, a bit closer and easier to climb.

Around on the other side of Mount Pion is the Grotto of the Seven Sleepers. The legend goes that seven young men took shelter here from religious persecutors. The Roman persecutors sealed these early Christians in the grotto, where they slept for 200 years, awakening when Christianity (after Constantine's conversion) had become the accepted state religion. Thinking that they had slept only a night or two, the seven crept back into the town, looking for refuge and their friends. They found easy refuge, but only the tombstones of their friends; they were accepted as heros by the believers in the town.


Unless you've made other arrangements, your best plan for getting to the Virgin Mary's House is to find a taxi in the parking lot near the ruins. Besides the fine view from the hilltop where the house is, you find the house itself, very much reconstructed by now. The foundations are said to date from the first century. Though the Church of the Dormition in Jerusalem claims also to be the place where the Virgin spent her last moments, several popes have indicated the significance of this spot. Services are sometimes held in the chapel, which is open to private individuals all day.

 

Kusadasi from Ephesus Selcuk

The bus trip takes you past Selcuk and Ephesus. The road winds through olive groves and tobacco fields. Riding along the road from Ephesus, suddenly you round a corner and the intense blue of the Aegean leaps up from the bottom of the cliffs which the road follows. This is your first taste of Kusadasi, and it's a valid one. After you've come down from the heights, the road takes you past the yacht marina, then into the little town itself. Today this town is a vacation resort and draws visitors solely for that purpose. The only two really historic buildings in the town are the Mehmet Pasha Caravanserai, rebuilt and turned into a luxury hotel for the Club Méditerranée, and the small fort on the "island" at the end of a causeway in the bay. This has also been rebuilt and is now a nightclub-discotheque; the rest of the island has been fixed up with gardens, walkways, restaurants and snack places, and a souvenir shop.
Kusadasi from Ephesus Selcuk


Going between Kusadasi and Selcuk, there are usually dolmushes departing on the hour and half hour, charging 5 TL one way. For your onward journey, catch a dolmush in Kusadasi for Soke, and from Soke to Priene, Miletus, Didyma, and Altinkum, unless you plan to take a minibus tour right from Selcuk or Kusadasi. From Soke there are also buses to Nazilli (for Aphrodisias) and Denizli (for Pamukkale).

Kusadasi Orientation

The town is fairly long because it runs along the waterfront, the land which everyone wants a piece of. The only important street perpendicular to Atatürk Bulvar? (also called Hükümet Caddesi), the waterfront street is Barbaros Caddesi, right beside the caravanserai in the center of town. The dolmush stop is at the junction of this street and Barbaros Caddesi. The official bus and dolmush garage is about a half mile east along Kahramanlar Caddesi, which is the continuation of Barbaros Caddesi.

Kusadasi beaches in and around the town vary in size from moderate to very small in some places you swim from docks and wharves. The town is interesting for walks during the day, and at night several discothèques and nightclubs swing into action. But the talk of big hotels and clubs should not scare you, for Kusadasi is still basically a little coastal Aegean town, complete with fishermen and farmers.

The Tourism Information Office is on the wharf where the cruise ships tie up, directly in front of, but two blocks away from, the Club Caravansérail. Kusadas? has a full range of hotels from which to choose. Within the town center are luxury places, lots of moderately priced rooms, and also many very cheap beds in pensions. Take your pick. Another rich area of lodgings is the quarter to the north of the center, on the way to the yacht harbor.

Restaurants in Kusadasi

Kusadasi can be divided neatly into three parts when one thinks of food. Assuming that you are not having your meals at your hotel or pension, and your options are to go down to the waterfront, where the town's better and higher-priced restaurants are Stretched along the quai; to have a snack or light lunch in one of the dockside tea gardens; or to go up Barbaros Caddesi, around (orunder) the police station and onto the street's continuation, called Kahramanlar Caddesi. On Kahramanlar Caddesi there are a half dozen cheap eateries köftecis, kebapç?s, and haz?r yemek restaurants where the townfolk eat and the prices are minimal.

The tea gardens near the waterfront offer such snacks as çöp kebap, small morsels of meat left over from the butcher's block, spitted on split bamboo, and roasted over charcoal; lokma, sweet honeyed fritters, and various kinds of börek. For about a half dollar you should be able to have a fine snack on these.

Finally, the places on Kahramanlar Caddesi all offer about the same things for the same prices. The best place to go is, unfortunately, the one which is, at the moment, the busiest. It seems, on this street, one cook at one restaurant gets himself all fired up and cooks up a storm, building up the business in the process.

Then suddenly he'll relax, business will dwindle, and somebody else on the street will take over where he left off. My advice: follow the crowd. At any of the places, a meal of cac?k (yogurt, grated cucumber, and garlic), salçal? köfte (ground meat rissoles in savory sauce), bread, and a beer will.

ENTERTAINMENT, DAY AND NIGHT at KUSADASI:

The town's beaches are all along the road on the ride into town. The best one, Pamucak, must be reached from Selcuk by taxi, so let's consider the ones closer to Kusadasi. The beach near the Kismet Hotel is reached by horse-drawn "beach buggy." These quaint vehicles leave from near the caravanserai frequently during the daytime, and charge 20 TL  for the ride to the beach. There's another beach, mostly pebble, at the other end of town, past the fort on the island. Swimming off the causeway is also possible.

The closest beach out of town is Kad?nlar beach ( Ladies Beach), catch the dolmushes on Barbaros Caddesi, beside the caravanserai. For those in the mood for some strolling and shopping, start on Barbaros Caddesi; the shops there display standard Turkish craft items, standard junk, and such oddities as suede neckties, suede patchwork handbags, Mexican-type straw hats, and curious evil-spirit chasers made from woven wheat stalks. In the middle of Barbaros Caddesi, near the dolmush stop, is a little fountain. The inscription cries out for a translation: "Ç?plak Ibrahim Özsürücü" means that the fountain was put up in memory of Naked Abraham the Pure Drover.

Ferries from Kusadasi to Greece

Kusadasi is a port for a good number of is a port for a good number of Greek island, Aegean, and Mediterranean cruise ships, and there is frequent service to the nearby Greek island of Samos. Any travel agency in town can book you on one of the ferries that operate every day during the summer. Boats leave at either 8 a.m. or 5 p.m., depending on which country's boat you take: Turkish in the morning, Greek in the afternoon. The trip takes 2 hours and costs $25 one way. Get to the office the day before you wish to sail if you can, so you'll have a firm reservation.

The morning trips are often less choppy than the evening trips. If you're at all prone to seasickness, try to get a morning boat.

Any travel agencys near the dock and another near the little bridge on Atatürk Bulvar?, is the agent for Epirotiki Lines and for other international cruise ships. If you're interested in a longer trip than to Samos, contact them. If it's just to Piraeus that you want to go, get the ferry to Samos and pick up one of the two daily boats which leave from Samos.

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