Roosters, Sea bass, and Ruins oh my!

If you don’t know, I am in Turkey for a class. The trip will be a look at the world of the early Christians who lived on the Western coast of Turkey. I am elated to be here as it is my first time traveling overseas We flew out of Fort Worth on December 31st and got into our hotel at 9:30 PM local time on January 1st. Today was our first day of actual touring the sites.

The day started out just like any other day, except for the fact that I was woken up by this mysteriously annoying sound. It happened to be a rooster, so as I reach for my watch to see what time it is, I notice that it is semi-light outside my third-floor hotel window. “Thanks for waking me up Mr. Rooster,” was the thought that came to my mind. That feeling of gladness soon turned to loathing as the digital black numbers across my watch’s green screen read, “5:00.” My roommate summed up the feeling pretty well in the statement, “Death to the Turkish Rooster!” Death indeed.

Either way, after a brief but intense wallet/passport scare where I placed them in a pocket within my backpack I never use. The group was off to our first site of the day.

(Me next to reconstructed pillars at Priene)

I must admit, I had never heard of any of the sites we were attending before the itinerary. Even though that was the case, I was still excited to see some ruins! Priene was our first stop. Our tour guide told us that it was estimated to have a population of 60,000 at its height, though there is no official record. The ruins I am standing next to in the above picture were part of a temple to the Greek God Athena. It truly was a sight to see, but I think the most visually impressive structure of the ruins was actually the theater (see below). This might have been because it was still intact, not reconstructed.

While not the biggest theater (there is one later in the post), it still was my first dabble in looking at ancient structures in person, and man was it sweet. It’s the kind of thing you dream of as a little child. There was even a 6th or 7th century Byzantine church built on site with steps up to the pulpit. The feeling one gets is one of wonder and awe. “It haunts,” says Nathan Russell. It’s haunting to think of who preached there over 1000 years ago. Priene, while not the most important or well known was a good site to begin my trip with. Onward!

Our next stop was lunch, and heaven above was it good. We were in the town of Didyma which seemed to be a Summer stop, but a restaurant was open specifically for us with a sweet spread. I had some amazing rice, this cheese stick thing, and wonderful egg-plant, but the star of the meal was the freshly prepared Sea Bass. Before the meal the owner/cook, who spoke more English than I did Turkish, held up the fish. I was hooked. The fish was grilled perfectly; the meat expertly seasoned, not too much like an amateur (myself included); and we were given the entire fish, head and all. It was a perfect meal while in sight of the Aegean Sea. After a post-lunch Oracle demonstration, we went on the the site across the street: the second (though often debated with the Temple in Ephesus) largest temple, the Temple of Apollo.

I know one cannot tell just by looking at the picture of how structurally large and impressive the Temple is, but the columns on the left and right are over 90 meters tall. Not only that but the entire structure was that tall and there were an incredible amount of columns per row. Go ahead, look it up. See for yourself!

Anyways here is another look at the temple, this view from the inside courtyard where there would have been a statue of Apollo.

Yes, yes, I know I’m not with the group, but you as you can see we were in a wall of stone, so the tour guide was very easy to see. In fact, as I said earlier, those walls would have risen to the tops of the columns. Sadly, they do not anymore, but it is still impressive to see and be inside of. You can see the base of Apollo’s statue and covering at the far end of the courtyard too.

This site was memorable if nothing else than because of its sheer size. It boggles (or bottles) the mind to imagine how those heavy marble stones were moved around, even when one factors in the slave labor.

After wandering the Temple, we were ushered to the bus to make our way to the last site, Miletus.

The main ruin at Miletus is the theater. We were told that originally it was built in the Hellenistic time to seat 5,000 persons but was expanded by the Romans to a capacity of 15,000.

I don’t think there is any real way to give perspective for this structure. All I know is that it would stink to have to run stairs on this baby! Jokes aside, it is a marvelous structure which was used/added by the Byzantines around the 7th century as a fort. The next picture is my second favorite structure at the sight: a sort of mausoleum for the fallen heroes of the city.

I just like it. There is no particular reason why I do, but for some reason the attraction is there.

After being hounded upon by a young shepherd and a flock of sheep/goats, it was back to the bus and off to the hotel. An end to a truly wonderful day. If this was the only day I had in Turkey, it would have been worth it, but as it happens I get more (though I do have to make a quick presentation on the Imperial Cults tomorrow).

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