Heading away from the Temple of Artemis we walked along the long tree-lined avenue only to curiously stop at a place named “Ottoman weaving centre“. Incidentally, the guide was just walking into the building and welcomed us in. It turned out to be a point for educating the public about the carpet weaves of Turkey with another side of the building dedicated to jewellery.
It turned out to be quite a lovely experience hearing of different types of carpet weaves (turns out we personally like the traditional ones from the tribals in Turkey). I also got an opportunity to weave in by myself 2 pieces of thread of a carpet that was in the process of being woven by a significantly more talented woman.
We also got to see the process of extracting silk from silkworm cocoons that were later used to make silk carpets giving us an appreciation for the end to end process, time and skill it takes to weave a handmade carpet. Unfortunately, our pockets weren’t deep enough to afford them so we had to leave with only the knowledge of the art.
Following further along the tree-lined path using maps we reached a junction where a cab driver reached out to us explaining that we had to walk a ridiculously long way uphill unless we took the cab. He was right and we’d have known if we’d have done a bit more research. In hindsight, we would have taken the cab from the town to Ephesus and then stopped at the temple of Artemis on the way back.
The very first stop in the cab was the house of the Virgin Mary. This is a relatively recent “discovery” triggered by the visions of a nun Anne Catherine Emerich. A writer transcribed her visions for years and later published it after her passing. The structure even though in ruins was already considered sacred by members of a mountain village 17km nearby who were considered descendants of the early Christians of Ephesus. The shrine located on Mt. Koressos (Turkish: Bülbüldağı, “Mount Nightingale”) was therefore believed to have been the residence of Mother Mary after she was brought here by St.John. The belief that she lived out her life here has led to it being a pilgrimage of visiting Christians in addition to nosey tourists like us.
The structure itself is a small chapel without too many adornments. Irrespective of our beliefs, considering its better to be safe than sorry, we too lit a candle, wrote down wishes on paper and tied them onto the wishing wall (world peace is just around the corner, folks!).
A water fountain there is supposed to have healing powers and there were pilgrims pouring water on ailing parts of their body. From there, after stopping for a bit at the statue of Mother Mary on our way down where the driver insisted we take a picture, we were dropped off at the entrance to the ruins in Ephesus.
Note: For some reason, there are absolutely no restaurants at the entrance of Ephesus (at least where we were dropped), the only options were cup noodles, that gave us flashbacks of our horrendous flight with Indigo. So we’d recommend packing a lunch or having lunch before you get here.
We then made our way into the Archaeological site of Ephesus. The name Ephesus came from the Amazonian queen Ephesia the daughter of Ares- the God of War and the Aphrodite – the goddess of love, beauty and fertility. The city itself was one of many founded by the Amazons.
Legend: Of the Amazonian women itself, is hard to summarize here, but what’s striking is the belief that they burnt off their right breasts for ease of using the bow and arrow. That they used men purely for procreation and were warriors of the highest repute.
Another legend attributes Ephesus’ ‘discovery’ in the 11th century BC by Androklos who had reached out to the oracles (as one does) in times of trouble. They guide him to set up his settlement in a place shown by a boar and a fish. So one day when hunting, a fish being cooked jumps out of the pan and startles a boar nearby. Considering it very convenient, he chased the boar and based on different versions either killed it or not and that spot where he built his settlement of Ephesus.
The varied legends are also attributed to the varied empires that ruled this place at different times; the Persian empire->Alexander the Great (temporarily named it Arsineia)->Egyptians-> Eleucids-> Pergamons->Romans -> Seljuk Turks-> Ottoman empire between 4th century BC and 15th century AD. Most of the current ruins in this ancient port city are from the time of the Romans.
We entered through the Magnesian gate immediately taking us into a bath-gymnasium complex used for physical exercise, and games in addition to bathing. The following were mostly ruins with pillars and remnants of the foundation of a church, the grave of St.Luke (the patron of the medical profession and artists),and another bath with sections for cold, warm and hot water.
Later we’d see the larger Scholastica baths with additionally with areas for massages and communal toilets with a drainage system (thankfully).