We awoke early in Selçuk the following morning after a pleasant stay at the Australian New Zealand guesthouse, run by a Turkish Australian man who had lived in Perth for eight years. Our first stop was the Aqueduct which then led us to the 6th century Basilica of St. John the Apostle which some believe, is built on the site of the Apostle’s tomb. It is believed that the Apostle John fled from Jerusalem to the city where he remained for the rest of his life, writing his gospels. We spent some time wandering around the Basilica grounds – it was serene and peaceful with no other tourists around. From the Basilica we could see the grand fortress of Selçuk on Ayasoluk Hill and the İsa Bey Mosque.
Ephesus was our next stop located about four kilometres from the city. When we arrived a few tour buses had already unloaded. We decided on opting for a guided tour and were approached by an English speaking guide, Volkan, who held the record for longest tour (51 days) in Turkey. The history of the Ephesus site spans thousands of years, beginning in the Neolithic age (around 6000BC) across the Bronze, Dark ages, Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine eras before being conquered during the Ottoman Period and abandoned. Now, Ephesus contains the largest Roman ruins in the eastern Mediterranean and only 25% of the site had been excavated.
Highlights of Ephesus include the Library of Celsus, a façade of which has been carefully reconstructed from original pieces, the Theatre which has a 22,000 seating capacity, the outdoor/communal latrines which were also a key social area, The Temple of Hadrian, The Temple of Domitrian and the agora (market places). After the tour we decided to also visit the recently excavated Roman apartments, the living compounds of where wealthy Romans lived. They were surprisingly spacious, bright and airy and beautifully decorated with mosaics covering walls and floors. The rooms were also huge and numerous.
After our morning in Ephesus we decided to taken on Voltron’s recommendation and visit one of the local restaurants nearby to the Seven Sleepers, for some Gözleme (pancakes / crepes) before heading off to our next stop, Pamukkale.