Ruby Princess – Ephesus
As dawn broke on Day 9 of our Mediterranean cruise on the beautiful Ruby Princess, we entered Turkish waters, heading for the port of Kuşadası. Even in the early morning, temperatures were already soaring. It’s going to be a hot day!
Kuşadası is a resort town that caters to tourists. Much of the traffic flow into Kuşadası is by cruise ships. And many of these arriving cruisers head on to Ephesus. We planned this same trek. As you would expect in a resort/cruise town, the port is full of small shops selling souvenirs, trinkets, carpets, leather, etc. Most of the older sea houses near the port have been converted into bars and cafes… and the town feels more European than Turkish. Like many of our fellow cruise passengers, we were eager to see Ephesus as we embarked on a Princess Cruise Shore Excursion.
Our first stop on our day-long excursion was the House of the Virgin Mary. It is located about 7 kilometers from Ephesus.
The house was discovered in the 19th century by following the descriptions in the reported visions of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich, a Roman Catholic nun and visionary.
The Catholic Church has a neutral stance of the authenticity of this home as The House of Mary, neither promoting nor discouraging visitors. Nevertheless, the house has a steady stream of pilgrims. Their belief is that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was taken to this house by Saint John and lived here until her Assumption (according to Catholic doctrine). Several Popes have visited the house, the most recent Pope Benedict XVI in 2006.
To get to the site, we climbed and climbed through the mountains in our motorcoach. It would have certainly been an arduous journey and a remote location in Mary’s time. There was a hushed reverence by all visitors as we waited in line to walk thorough the house. The wishing wall, containing thousands of notes (pictured above) is believed by some pilgrims to be miraculous. This location was to be quite a contrast to Ephesus.
My first impressions of Ephesus – HOT! Really hot.
And crowded, and dusty, and there were many cats hanging around?
Once you got past the heat and crowds… it was beautiful.
How crowded was it? How about THIS crowded!
Statuary was everywhere – including Nike, the Greek Goddess of Victory (see the swoosh in the statue above?). Everyone – including the cats – appreciated the art and the shade!
We headed down the hill towards The Library of Celsus… there was so much to see! We had decided to visit the ‘terrace houses’ which showed how the wealthy citizens of Ephesus lived during the Roman period.
If you go to Ephesus, do visit the Terrace Houses. Billed as the world’s largest jigsaw puzzle, it is an ever changing ruin. The beauty of the artwork cannot be captured in these photos. After the Terrace House, we reached the bottom of the hill and the most spectacular ruin, The Library of Celsus in Ephesus.
Ephesus is one location I will will be returning. There is just so much to see. The city contains the largest collection of Roman ruins in the eastern Mediterranean. And it is still being excavated. (Only an estimated 15-20% of the city has been excavated). So there will be more to see on my next visit – and your’s!
As we exited the ruins we were faced with innumerable souvenirs shops. Yet, I was delighted to see that “truth in advertising” is alive an well in Turkey. Note the sign in the middle of this photo!
Our last stop was the Basilica of St. John.
After a long day we happily returned to our balcony stateroom… and turned up the air conditioning! We enjoyed the excursion and the variety of sites we saw… and were happy to be back on board.
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