Day 926 of Traveling the World, Retrospective: Ephesus, Turkey. August 15, 2020.

“Make the most of every living and breathing moment…and don’t live thoughtlessly.” ~ St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians, 5: 15-17

We can see in the photos that the city of Ephesus took Paul’s letter to them to heart. Paul lived there from 52-54 AD, and 10 years later he wrote his epistle to them from prison in Rome. Ephesus is now in ruins, but you can look in and through the stone ruins to gain an idea of the city it once was. The history of Ephesus dates back 8,000 years, and it welcomed some of the most notable figures in history in addition to St. Paul: Alexander the Great, Cleopatra, Mark Antony, Constantine the Great, to name a few. Just a mile away stands the few stones of what was the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world.

Our visit to this wonderful city was on November 22, 2009. Some of the ruins date to the 10th Century BC. In the first two photos, you can see the great Library of Celsus. Its construction began in 114 AD, and it once held around 12,000 scrolls, one of the three largest libraries in that part of the world at the time. It is the most recognized and notable building in Ephesus. Just look at the fabulous detail that still remains after two centuries! The intricacy is gorgeous. What you see as the library was found all in fragmented pieces, of course. Archaeologists used the pieces, and some manufactured replacements, to rebuild the facade of the library between 1970-1978. The library could only be used by men during the period it was in use, as women were not permitted. Interestingly, a “secret passage” was found inside the building that led to a brothel/saloon. Men could tell their wives they were “going to the library,” when in fact they had other things they really wanted to do!

You can see four statues in the wall niches next to each entrance. They represent feminine representations of the four virtues: Sophia (wisdom), Episteme (knowledge), Ennoia (intelligence), and Arete (excellence). There is a closeup of Arete farther down in the photos, with her name in Greek underneath.

The fourth photo is what is left of the Temple of Hadrian. After that are two views down Curetes Street, the main drag leading to the library, where Mark Antony triumphantly entered the city with Cleopatra. Then there is a sculpture of what looks like an angel holding a wreath…that is Nike, the goddess of victory. Immediately following Nike are two photos of the Great Theater of Ephesus, built into the hillside and able to accommodate 25,000 people! This theater is mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 19. A silversmith named Demetrius led a revolt against St. Paul as he tried to enter the theater (he was disrupting the locals’ livelihood), and Paul was subsequently deported. The theater was used for plays, but in the first century AD was also used for gladiator games.

In the photo after the theater, you can see a sarcophagus in the foreground and several columns from a destroyed building in the background. The photo after that shows ancient toilets. Note that there are no dividers. You sit, talk to your neighbor, do what you must, and continue with your day. Our guide told us that there was running water under the toilets, so everything moved along, and there wasn’t as much of a smell. And, amazingly, the system still worked perfectly! He noted that in his town nearby, they installed a sewer system several years prior….and it was already out of use. The final photo is one of our favorites!…truth in advertising….Genuine Fake Watches. It doesn’t get any better than that.