Fethiye

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFethiye, the city with the hard to spell name… At least for me it is very hard to type the three vowels in a row, without having the h slip somewhere in between to break them up.
We arrived in the late afternoon and knew we would be leaving the next morning on a boat trip. Way to soon as it turns out, there is a lot to do in the area surrounding Fethiye and we didn’t really have the time for any of it. Continue reading

Ephesus

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEphesus was to be our final “cultural stop”. One of the Roman mega-cities and home to one of the seven world wonders or so I thought. I quickly learned that there is not one Ephesus: There are five. The first was built at the junction of two rivers and got flooded regularly. The second, where the world wonder ‘the temple of Artemis’  is located, was built further away from the river on the border of the sea. However, the sea is OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAretreating in that area. A few hundred years later the governor decided to move the city closer to the sea and the city’s port again, abandoning the second Ephesus in the process. This relocation repeated itself a number of times and is actually the reason Ephesus remains today as it was in the 1st century AD. The city was moved away again by the governor and the area was abandoned, so that the ruins were not changed and modified over time.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt is also an important city for Christianity as it gave shelter to a lot of the early Christians. The wheel-sign you can see on the left was one of the symbols of the Christians at that time. It is actually an overlay of all the letters you can see next to it which spell fish in Greek; the letters were the initials of the sentence “Jesus Christ, god’s son, saviour”.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGenerally there were a lot of signs, clues and even antic Roman advertisements carved into the marble tiles which made up the streets. Many of the marble tiles also had long parallel scratches on them. As we learned this was a glide-counter measure because wet marble is awfully slippery. Luckily we had lovely sunshine during our visit, but the marble was slippery nevertheless.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Ephesus one can visit today is the Roman Ephesus. This means it is not the same town in which the world-wonder-temple is located. We did see the remains of the temple from afar on a forlorn field. It appears that there’s literally only one column left of this once imposing building. Even though the world wonder fell prey to the ravages of time, there is a lot left to see in the Roman Ephesus. Again, I would see something new here I hadn’t seen in any other Roman ruins. The terrace houses, the houses of the rich. TOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAhey are still being excavated and restored, but a lot of the wall paintings and mosaics have either been preserved or recreated. You can get a first hand impression of how luxurious and spacious the richest families used to live in the city. Each of the houses has several rooms and a huge terrace to themselves. The further up you go, the less impressive the houses get. Obviously, when you’re rich you don’t want to have to climb a lot of stairs to get home. I was really impressed by the amount of detail and decoration.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABut the attention to detail was not limited to the terrace houses, every building seemed to be extraordinarily decorated. In particular, of course, the façade of the famous library of Celsus. It has been reconstructed meticulously and today towers over the square without rivalry. Back in the day however it was squeezed in between multiple other houses and the architect actually saw himself constrained to use optical tricks to make the façade appear larger than it really is. This is supposedly the reason for the second set of columns being much smaller than the first set: to make them look further away than they really are.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe library was the final and the masterpiece of the guided visit. After that we were lead to the road “towards the port”, but were told at the same time that the sea is now some 10km further away than it used to be… We decided not to go see a nonexistent dried up port. Instead we went to see the basilica of St. John. The majority of the columns in the basilica were stolen from the temple of Artemis. Finally we got to see the world wonder, even if it had transformed into a basilica over the last 2000 years.

Aphrodisias

AOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAphrodisias is an old Greek town, that is said to be pretty and not very overrun by tourists. Both these things are true. It was meant to be a small detour on our way from Pamukkale to the coast, however we decided to take the scenic route…
Instead of taking the highway to Aphrodisias we decided to drive about 30km through the back-lands on a smaller road. We felt quite confident that we might make good time with this, as the roads were reasonably well in shape and we were cutting diagonally where the highway made a large deturn. Continue reading

Pamukkale

Pamukkale was one of the places I was particularly intrigued about. When we were planning our trip, my grand parents used the occasion to recount their fond memories of this place, the beautiful terraces and the ruins of the old city on top of it. A good friend of mine recalled things quite differently: OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe terraces grey and dirtied by the thousands of tourists bathing there. The roman ruins intertwined with giant hotels and a road built through the terraces to reach those hotels.
I did read up on the place and found that, while Pamukkale had been nearly destroyed by tourism in the 90ies, it was now protected by the state. The hotels had been removed and the terraces were being restored to their previous glory. Bathing in the terraces was forbidden. Continue reading

Ilahra & Derinkuyu

On our final day in Cappadocia we went for one of the “traditional” guided tours in the area, but since we were driving ourselves, we were free to stop and delay wherever we wanted. Our first stop was, you guessed it, a cave church. Or rather a complete monastery built into the mountain. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe explored the monastery and its surrounding. Next to this monastery, there is an area that’s purported to be one of the sets of star wars. However, this is not quite the entire truth. The spot had been chosen to become one of the sets, this much is true. But at the time it was apparently difficult to get a permit to shoot in Turkey, so instead of shooting the movie there, they took pictures and rebuilt the landscape from the pictures in Tunesia and shot the movies there. So while the movie does show the same landscape it wasn’t actually shot on spot. Continue reading

Zelve

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe next day we did more of the same, yet it was completely different. We decided to do a round trip visiting the valleys surrounding Göreme and the Zelve Open Air Museum in the afternoon. We did so, even though it is often said to be less impressive than Göreme Museum and tedious to visit.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Continue reading

Göreme

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA On the road again, finally. This time our trip is taking us to Turkey, but not just to the beaches. We’ve started out in Cappadocia in central Anatolia, the land of the beautiful horses. While the name makes ample promises about horses, the truth is that nowadays there are only very few horses left and those that remain are mostly used for the touristic purposes.
We arrived in the early afternoon in the town itself and after settling in, we set out to explore the area. Continue reading