So today was one of the days I was most excited for. Today was the day we were to visit the ancient city of Ephesus. I know there were other things on the schedule, visiting the local mosque that was built in 1375 and visiting St. John’s Church built in the 6th century, but in my mind, those two things paled in comparison to Ephesus. And while the mosque and church were intriguing to me, I dare say that the Ephesus site lived up to the hype. I will try to keep my post shorter than yesterday’s for sake of reading, so I will hit up what I feel were the three best “highlights” in my own unscientific and semi-intelligent opinion. To the Top THREE!!!!!
#3 The Houses at Ephesus
We got to tour an exhibit of an house complex that had seven different units. They were used in both Hellenistic and Roman times, as well as the edifice being used in the Byzantine time as a pottery shop. The impressive thing was how well many of the frescoes, marble walls, and mosaic floors had been put back together or just preserved. Here is an example of what I’m talking about.
I know it’s upside down, but look at how that mosaic of the lion was preserved! How awesome, and much of the place was like that. I could post picture after picture, but time, space, and more importantly the wi-fi at the hotel we are staying at won’t allow it. So…I’ll just post one more picture of the house exhibit.
#2 The Celcus Library
Pretty sweet right? Apparently this was not free standing when first found. It is actually a reconstruction, but either way the facade is impressive. Celcus was the Governor over the Province of Asia, of which Ephesus was the capital, and apparently he donated a lot of money to have this library built. Physically it is awe-inspiring. The intricacy of the ornamental carvings was astounding, let alone the fact that the library housed somewhere around 12,000 texts (which were mostly scrolls with a few codices thrown in there.
This view shows the intricacies a little bit better. It was neat to learn about how the statues that are in front of the library, of which they are four, are not originals, but copies of copies, meaning that they are copies of ones that replaced the originals. It is thought that the first statues flanking the entrance were originally bronze, but were melted down at some point. I still think the thing just looks cool (I know how “un-academic” that sounds, but who cares!)
#1 The Grotto of Paul and Thekla
This ruin, or more aptly named as an artifact perhaps, is amazing because of the fact of its importance to us as Christians. Apparently this grotto or cave was used as a chapel in the Byzantine times, but no one really knows when these frescoes were painted. Above you can see St. Paul in the middle with Theoklea (Thekla’s mother) on his right both holding the sign of the apostles, which means that the person who painted it, and those who touched it enough to gouge out Theoklea’s eyes, believed that Theoklea was on the same level as St. Paul. Thekla herself is in the house to Paul’s left listening to her mother and Paul.
What is more is that there were more frescoes painted in the cave as well! If you look below you will see Jesus in the middle flanked by what is believed to be 2 apostles.
I find the fact that we can see these style of paintings in a cave right outside of the city amazing. Let me tell you, it was a little bit of a hike to get here, so I can imagine the early Christians hiking to get to the chapel to worship, pray, and take communion; what an awesome legacy for me to try and continue!