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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Turkey - Ephesus & House of Virgin Mary (2004: Izmir, Kusadasi)

Date of visit: 20th November 2004

There were 3 destination for day 4 in Turkey, i.e. photo stop at Kusadasi coastal city, fashion show cum shopping at Arvalya Leather factory and exploring the ruin city of Ephesus, being 1 of the 7 churches in Asia as mentioned in the Book of Revelation. Later on, before travelling to Pamukkale, we dropped by at House of Virgin Mary which is located about 8 to 9km from Ephesus. Izmir to Kusadasi is about 100km in distance. From Kusadasi, we travelled about 19km to reach Selcuk, where the archaeological site of Ephesus is located.
Quick stop in Kusadasi for photo

As part of the condition joining a guided tour is a stop to the place that made you not hesitates to spend money after travelling thousands of kilometre. I had my purchased which I very much regret in Arvalya Leather factory in Kusadasi. The handbag, priced at more than USD150 was actually damaged and was not used till present, such a waste. Only their expensive leather jacket is useful to me till present though later I found that I bought the jacket at a much higher price.

Fashion show cum  shopping in Turkish leather products factory in Kusadasi

In this entry, perhaps it's better if I could write the history of Ephesus which was once an ancient Greek city, and later a major Roman city situated on the coast of Ionia, near present-day Selçuk, İzmir Province, Turkey for my future reference. It was one of the 12 cities of the Ionian League during the Classical Greek era. In the Roman period, Ephesus had a population of more than 250,000 in the 1st century BC, which served to make it one of the largest cities in the Mediterranean world.The city was famed for the Temple of Artemis (completed around 550 BC), 1 of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World. In 268 AD, the Temple was destroyed or damaged in a raid by the Goths (Germanic people who responsible for the fall of the Roman Empire).

Celsus Library

Emperor Constantine I rebuilt much of the city and erected new public baths but what remained of the temple was again destroyed in 401 AD by a mob led by St. John Chrysostom in the name of Christianity. The town was partially destroyed by an earthquake in 614 AD. The city's importance as a commercial center declined as the harbor was slowly silted up by the Kayster River causing loss of access to Aegean Sea. Some quoted that The Gospel of John may have been written here. The city was the site of several 5th-century Christian Councils. It is also the site of a large gladiators' graveyard. *Paul the Apostle stayed in Ephesus for 2 years (AD 52-54) teaching the Gospel of Jesus.

Roman Theater and the Gladiators graveyard located not far within

Ephesus was founded as an Attic-Ionian colony in the 10th century BC on the Ayasuluk Hill, 3 km from the center of ancient Ephesus. The Greek mythical founder of the city was a prince of Athens named Androklos, who had to leave his country after the death of his father, King Kadros. According to the legend, he founded Ephesus on the place where the oracle of Delphi became reality ("A fish and a boar will show you the way"). Androklos drove away most of the native Carian and Lelegian inhabitants of the city and united his people with the remainder. He was a successful warrior, and as a king he was able to join the 12 cities of Ionia together into the Ionian League. During his reign the city began to prosper. He died in a battle against the Carians when he came to the aid of Priene, another city of the Ionian League. Androklos and his dog are depicted on the Hadrian temple frieze, dating from the 2nd century. Later, Greek historians such as Pausanias, Strabo, the poet Kallinos, and the historian Herodotos reassigned the city's mythological foundation to Ephos, queen of the Amazons.


The Greek goddess Artemis and the great Anatolian goddess Kybele were identified together as Artemis of Ephesus. The many-breasted "Lady of Ephesus", identified with Artemis, was worshiped in the Temple of Artemis, the largest building of the ancient world according to Pausanias. Pausanias mentions that the temple was built by Ephesus, son of the river god Caystrus before the arrival of the Ionians. Of this structure, scarcely a trace remains.


Rows of Marble columns remain in Celsus Library

Later in the same century, the Lydians under Croesus invaded Persia. The Ionians refused a peace offer from Cyrus the Great, siding with the Lydians instead. After the Persians defeated Croesus, the Ionians offered to make peace but Cyrus insisted that they surrender and become part of the empire. They were defeated by the Persian army commander Harpagos in 547 BC. The Persians then incorporated the Greek cities of Asia Minor into the Achaemenid Empire. Those cities were then ruled by satraps (Persian Governors of Province).


Ephesus continued to prosper. But when taxes continued to be raised under Cambyses II and Darius, the Ephesians participated in the Ionian Revolt against Persian rule in the Battle of Ephesus (498 BC), an event which instigated the Greco-Persian wars. In 479 BC, the Ionians, together with Athens, were able to oust the Persians from the shores of Asia Minor. In 478 BC, the Ionian cities entered with Athens into the Delian League against the Persians. Ephesus did not contribute ships but gave financial support.

The Bazaar

During the Peloponnesian War, Ephesus was first allied to Athens but sided in a later phase, called the Ionian War, with Sparta, which also had received the support of the Persians. As a result, rule over the cities of Ionia was ceded again to Persia. These wars did not much affect daily life in Ephesus. The Ephesians were surprisingly modern in their social relations. They allowed strangers to integrate. Education was much valued. Through the cult of Artemis, the city also became a bastion of women's rights. Ephesus even had female artists. In later times, Pliny the Elder mentioned having seen at Ephesus a representation of the goddess Diana by Timarata, the daughter of a painter.


When Alexander the Great defeated the Persian forces at the Battle of Granicus in 334 BC, the Greek cities of Asia Minor were liberated. The pro-Persian tyrant Syrpax and his family were stoned to death, and Alexander was greeted warmly when he entered Ephesus in triumph. When Alexander saw that the temple of Artemis was not yet finished, he proposed to finance it and have his name inscribed on the front. But the inhabitants of Ephesus demurred, claiming that it was not fitting for one god to build a temple to another. After Alexander's death in 323 BC, Ephesus in 290 BC came under the rule of one of Alexander's generals, Lysimachus.


At a later date, Ephesus became part of the Seleucid Empire (divisional from the empire created by Alexander the Great). After the murder of king Antiochus II Theos and his Egyptian wife, pharaoh Ptolemy III invaded the Seleucid Empire and the Egyptian fleet swept the coast of Asia Minor. Ephesus came under Egyptian rule between 263 and 197 BC. When the Seleucid king Antiochus III the Great tried to regain the Greek cities of Asia Minor, he came in conflict with Rome. After a series of battles, he was defeated by Scipio Asiaticus at the Battle of Magnesia in 190 BC. As a result, Ephesus came under the rule of the Attalid king of Pergamon Eumenes II (197–133 BC). When his grandson Attalus III died without male children of his own, he left his kingdom to the Roman Republic.


When Augustus became emperor in 27 BC, he made Ephesus the capital of proconsular Asia instead of Pergamum. Ephesus then entered an era of prosperity, becoming both the seat of the governor and a major center of commerce. Ephesus has been estimated to be in the range of 400,000 to 500,000 inhabitants in the year 100, making it the largest city in Roman Asia and of the day. Ephesus was at its peak during the 1st and 2nd century AD. The emperor Constantine I rebuilt much of the city and erected a new public bath. Ephesus remained the most important city of the Byzantine Empire in Asia after Constantinople in the 5th and 6th centuries. The basilica of St. John was built during the reign of emperor Justinian I in the 6th century. Majority of what left on Ephesus are 85% in ruin.

Celsus Libray was built in 125 AD in memory of Tiberius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus, an Ancient Greek who served as governor of Roman Asia (105–107)

After riding a bus on a winding road up to the top of the hill, we reached the last residence of the Virgin Mary. A legend, which was first mentioned by Epiphanius of Salamis in the 4th century AD, purported that Mary may have spent the last years of her life in Ephesus. The Ephesians derived the argument from John's presence in the city, and Jesus’ instructions to John to take care of his mother after his death. Epiphanius, however, was keen to point out that, while the Bible says John was leaving for Asia, it specifically does not say that Mary went with him. He later stated that she was buried in Jerusalem. Since the 19th century, The House of the Virgin Mary, about 7 km (4 mi) from Selçuk, is alleged to have been the last home of Mary, mother of Jesus in the Roman Catholic tradition, based on the visions of Sister Anne Catherine Emmerich. It is a popular place of Catholic pilgrimage which has been visited by three recent popes. Only God knows the truth, whether or not the below house was the last place that Virgin Mary accommodated.

A peaceful House of Virgin Mary

Important note: The Epistle to the Ephesians, often shortened to Ephesians, is the 10th book of the New Testament. Its authorship has traditionally been credited to Paul the Apostle, but it is considered by some scholars to be Deutero-pauline, that is, written in Paul's name by a later author strongly influenced by Paul's thought. Scholars have challenged the authenticity of the epistle. Information obtained from Wikipedia.
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