Ephesus and the House of Virgin Mary
We spent the night at Kusadasi, which is a coastal town with old villages and new resorts. We reached there at night and if we thought the night view of the harbor was beautiful, the morning sun reflecting on the rainbow houses was breathtaking.
I later Found out that the painted houses on the hill are in fact the slum of Kusadasi. The Gypsies settled them a long time ago and when Kuşadası expanded, the municipality decided to paint their houses 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. They have proper paperwork unlike the Gypsies in neighboring countries and enjoy the same rights as Turkish people.
Kusadasi is close to the old Roman city of Ephesus which was also founded by one of Alexander the Great’s generals and was taken over by Romans after his death.
At one time Ephesus was the second-largest city in the world and the second capital of Rome outside of Rome.
It 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. Two hundred and fifty thousand people used to live here which is equivalent to five million people in today’s age. It is believed that only 25% of those were free men, rest were slaves.
Ephesus has a temple of Artemis, Curetes Street, and Roman baths. It also has two Odeons and a very large 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 Acropolis.
After Ephesus, we visited the house where Virgin Mary is believed to live. It was a small and serene house of three rooms which was rebuild in the sixth century. It had a baptism pool, natural spring water and a wishing wall where people tied their wishes.
On the way, we stopped by to see the ancient art of uncoiling the silk from cocoons at a carpet gallery. A well-planned operation to sell ridiculously expensive hand made carpets to tourists was well executed by an army of very polite and extremely hospitable salesmen.
On the way back we were taken to a leather fashion house and were treated to a fashion parade in theatre made for the purpose. The whole room burst into laughs when one of the guests was found asleep in the middle of the high pitch speech of a salesman.
Our last stop was the old village of Sirince. It dates back to the 19th century and has original white painted houses. The village is known for producing some of the best wines from fruit. There were stacks and stacks of pomegranates, quince, and dried figs.
In the evening we witnessed a breathtaking sunset from our room.