After spending a day in the City of Troy and Acropolis in Pergamon, we drove to Kusadasi. Kusadasi is a coastal town developed from old villages and new resorts. We reached there at night and were greeted by a beautiful view of the harbor.
If we thought the night view of the harbor was beautiful, the morning sun reflecting on the rainbow houses on the hill was breathtaking. Unfortunately, the picture below doesn’t do full justice to it, but you can still spot the houses painted in green, blue, purple, and yellow.
I later found out that the houses on the hill were, in fact, the slum of Kusadasi. The Gypsies settled on the hill a long time ago and started building mud houses. When Kuşadası expanded, the municipality decided to paint the houses (for free) to make them look presentable to the ever-increasing tourists.
There are a lot of Gypsies in Turkey, and they are the citizens of the country. Unlike the Gypsies in neighboring countries, they have the proper paperwork and enjoy the same rights as Turkish people.
Kusadasi is close to the famous old Roman city of Ephesus. Just like Pergamon, Ephesus was also founded by one of the twelve generals of Alexander the Great, Lysimachos, in the fourth century BCE. After his death, it went to the Romans without any bloodshed.
At its peak, Ephesus was the second-largest city in the world and the second capital of Rome outside of Rome. Two hundred and fifty thousand people lived here, which is equivalent to five million people in today’s age.
It is believed that only 25% of those were free. 75% were slaves.
Ephesus is one of the best-preserved ancient sites in the world. The archeological digging at this site has been going on for one hundred years, and still, only a portion of the city has been excavated.
Ephesus has a tem
Ephesus has a temple of Artemis, a Curetes Street, and Roman baths.
It also has two Odeons and a huge amphitheater with a capacity of 25,000.
However, the main attractions of the city are the three-story-high library. It was the third largest library in the world after Alexandria and the Acropolis of Pergamon.
The house of the Virgin Mary
After Ephesus, we visited the house where the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus, was taken to after the sacrifice of Christ by Saint John and lived there for the remainder of her earthly life. This Catholic shrine is located on Mt. Koressos, just 7 kilometers away from Ephesus.
The house was discovered in the 19th century following the descriptions in the reported visions of Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774–1824), a Roman Catholic nun and visionary. (Source: Wikipedia)
Although the Catholic Church has never pronounced in favor or against the house’s authenticity, the site is revered by Christians and receives a steady flow of pilgrimage each year.
I was mesmerized by the serenity of the place. The house was made entirely of stone, was small, just three rooms, and was rebuild in the sixth century. It was rebuilt several times after that to repair the damage caused by earthquakes and weather elements.
It had a baptism pool, natural spring water, and a wishing wall where people tied their wishes.
Although I am not a Christian, nor a religious person, I felt some special energy there. Some places have that spiritual aura about them. This place was one of them. It could be the collective vibes of the pilgrims or the continuous recitation of the bible, and I felt a special connection to the place.
We stopped by to see the ancient art of uncoiling the silk from cocoons at a carpet gallery on the way back.
As a part of a well-planned operation to support the local economy (by selling costly handmade carpets to tourists), we were received an army of very polite and welcoming sales assistants.
Many fellow travelers fell prey to their sales tactics. Thankfully both my husband and I could keep our restrain and didn’t buy anything.
Leather fashion house
From the silk factory, we were taken to a leather fashion house.
There we were treated to a fashion parade in a theatre specifically made for the purpose. Model after model walked the ramp on lively and high-pitched music.
After the fashion show, an experienced salesman gave a well-sales pitch telling us about the advantage and quality of the garment. The lights were dim. We were tired. But the whole room burst into laughter when one of the guests started snoring in the middle of the speech.
Village of Sirince
From the planned visit to the carpet and leather factories, we were taken to the old village of Sirince and were given free rein to explore it. It was the best time of the day for me. I explored the ancient jewelry shops where artisans were creating exquisite jewelry items from silver and local stones. We walked uphill on cobblestone alleyways, checking shops, trying pomegranate juice and local ice cream.
The village dates back to the 19th century and has original white-painted houses. It is known for producing some of the best wines from fruit. In my life, I had not seen the stacks and stacks of pomegranates, quince, and dried figs.
In the evening, we witnessed a breathtaking sunset from our room.
Next week I will write about Pamukkale