Travel to Ephesus in Turkey
Picture yourself standing before a wide landscape full of broken columns, semi-reconstructed walls and isolated façades that transport you to a time of heroes and gods. That’s what Ephesus is like, an archaeological site that gathers the remains of the fourth biggest city of the ancient world after Rome, Alexandria and Antioch.
It’s interesting to say that this site is located in today’s western Turkey given that during its Golden Age it was part of the Greeks’ domains. That’s why everything in it reminds us of another destination that’s equally beautiful: the Acropolis in Athens.
Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
The greatest treasure in Ephesus was the Artemision or Temple of Artemis –Greek goddess of hunting–, which was built on marshland in order to make it more resistant to earthquakes. Its architecture was a perfect portrait of the culture and art that were promoted in the city, so it attracted merchants, kings and curious travelers who donated jewels and other goods in honor of the goddess. It was considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World until, one night, the same in which Alexander the Great was born, an arsonist burnt it down.
Legend says that Artemis could not defend her abode because she was looking after the great conqueror’s birth, and even though he offered to rebuild the temple 22 years later, Ephesians rejected his proposal arguing that a god was not supposed to build a temple in honor of another god. Later, the Artemision was rebuilt and destroyed on several occasions until in 1869 it was rediscovered during an expedition sponsored by the British Museum. Since then, you must plan a visit to this museum located in London if you want to see the sculptures that were extracted from the site. However, if you travel to Ephesus, all you’ll find is a tall lonely column, the only remain left of the magnificent temple.
A single column and, around it, a whole world. In fact, Ephesus is considered a huge museum in situ, and something that will help you corroborate its splendor is Celsus Library’s façade, one of the best-preserved structures that were built when Ephesus was conquered by the Roman Empire. You’ll find it thanks to its three tall doors decorated with windows and columns although, unfortunately, you won’t see much of the interior because it was set on fire by Goth invaders.
House of the Virgin Mary
Ephesus also possesses a certain religious symbolism given that the first church dedicated to the Virgin Mary –an important figure in Catholicism– was built there. They chose this location because Mary inhabited a small hut in the area during the last years of her life.
When you travel to Ephesus, don’t miss the performances of gladiator combats that are held hourly, and at the end of the day, go to one of the classical music concerts –such as the International Izmir Festival–, that they organize in the Grand Theater.