Thursday, February 28, 2013

Ephesus, Miletus, and Didyma

Another new-to-us country on this trip will be Turkey.  We are scheduled to port in Kusadasi the day after we've been to Athens.  As first time visitors, we plan to take advantage of the proximity to Ephesus and spend part of the day exploring the ancient ruins.

Our ship offers a shore excursion to Ephesus, Miletus, and Didyma.  As students of the Bible, we chose this particular excursion because it not only went to Ephesus, but also to Miletus which is mentioned in Acts 20:15-17: 15 Sailing from there, we arrived the following day opposite Chios; and the next day we crossed over to Samos; and the day following we came to Miletus. 16 For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus so that he would not have to spend time in Asia; for he was hurrying to be in Jerusalem, if possible, on the day of Pentecost. 17 From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called to him the elders of the church.

Having the opportunity to be in Ephesus and other places that the early Christians spent time in is so powerful and a great reminder about the enduring Word of God.  But even without this aspect, getting to see the evidence of times gone by is just amazing.  We visited Pompeii in 2007 and absolutely loved learning about life so many years ago.

Here are the highlights from the excursion we plan to take:
  • Travel approximately 30 minutes through the verdant countryside before arriving at the ancient ruins of Ephesus, considered the most important archeological site in Turkey.
  • Begin your approximate 105-minute guided walking tour of the open-air archeological museum of Ephesus and pass by the Magnesia gate, entering the administrative section of ancient Ephesus, one of the most magnificent excavations in the world.
  • See the Odeon, the Fountain of Trajan, the steam baths of Scholastika, the temple of Hadrian and the impressive library of Celsus. The library is adorned with columns and statues. The Grand Theater, where St. Paul preached, is one of the largest theaters in antiquity with a capacity of 24,000 seats.
  • Walk through the Arcadian Way, where Mark Anthony and Cleopatra once rode in procession.
  • Re-board your motorcoach and travel approximately 45 minutes to the ancient site of Miletus, once a great Ionian port with 2 lions guarding its entrance. Miletus was the native city of several philosophers and sages. Enjoy an approximate 45-minute of the great theater of the town, which is one of the only visible sites nowadays. The structure was reconstructed in the Roman period.
  • Continue with an approximate 15-minute transfer to Didyma to admire the magnificent Temple of Apollo, a great monument of antiquity, during the approximate 30-minute visit. Many times looted and burnt, the sanctuary's elegant beauty is still impressive. Some of the 120 columns that remain standing allow one to visualize the full magnificence of the structure.
  • Next, enjoy a typical lunch in the town of "Didim" at a local restaurant, overhanging the ruins of the Temple of Didyma where you can taste the delicious dishes from the Turkish cuisine.
  • Conclude your visit and re-board your transportation for the approximate 90-minute trip back to Kusadasi.

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