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CELESTYAL CRUISES FREE EPHESUS SHORE EXCURSIONS

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Curetes Street
Curetes Street
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

When Celestyal Cruises itineraries include Kuşadasi, Turkey, passengers can take free half-day shore excursions to Ephesus. To get to the world's best-preserved ancient city, our bus tour brought us on a 20-minute drive north of Kuşadasi to the town of Selçuk.

"Ephesus is at least 8,000 years old," said our guide, Dilek. "It has been rebuilt a minimum of three times. We are visiting the third Ephesus, which was founded in the fourth century BC and lasted until the 14th century AD."

UNESCO World Heritage Site

Listed by UNESCO in 2015, Ephesus exudes history. We walked on the same marble streets walked by Alexander the Great, Antony and Cleopatra, Roman Emperors, St. John and St. Paul.

Archeologists began excavations in 1857. To date, they've unearthed remnants of marketplaces, public and private buildings, monuments and temples.

Odeon Theatre
Odeon Theatre
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Odeon Theatre

We followed Curetes Street from the Upper Gate to the Lower Gate. The Odeon Theatre punctuates the marble statues and broken columns lining the street.

Built in the second century AD, the venue for meetings and concerts had seating for 1,500 people.

Scholastica Baths

"Ephesus once had an amazing harbor," said Dilek. "Over the years it silted in, so the city is now seven kilometers from the sea."

Public latrine
Public latrine
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

As we viewed terra cotta tiles that were at least 1,800 years old, she explained: "They carried water from cisterns and aqueducts to homes, fountains and bath houses such as the Scholastica Baths, which were heated by wood furnaces stoked by slaves."

Public latrine

Clay pipes conducted grey water from the baths to the public latrine built in the first century AD. "Users paid to use the toilets, but they had zero privacy," said Dilek as she showed us the holes in the marble benches lining two walls.

Mosaic street below the Terrace Houses
Mosaic street below the Terrace Houses
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

"Patrons sat side-by-side and socialized here, discussing politics, religion and current events. Constantly flowing water flushed the toilets from the channel below to the sewer system."

Mosaic street

The expertise of the early-day engineers impressed us. Dilek pointed out a beautiful mosaic street, once bordered with colonnades. "Wealthy Ephesians lived in homes above it on the hill, from the first century BC to the seventh century AD."

Now called the Terrace Houses, these dwellings had underground heating systems, toilets, courtyards, wall paintings and mosaic floors.

Temple of Hadrian

Across Curetes Street, Corinthian columns supported the carved arch of the Temple of Hadrian, which the emperor visited in AD 128. Just beyond it, above the door is a Medusa-like sculpture.

"Does it look familiar?" asked Dilek. "Think of the twin-tailed siren on the Starbucks logo and decide for yourself."

Medusa-like sculpture in Temple of Hadrian<br> & Starbucks logo
Medusa-like sculpture in Temple of Hadrian
& Starbucks logo
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Celsus Library

From the cool shade of a pomegranate tree at the end of Curetes Street, we viewed the most magnificent building in Ephesus. The restored façade of the two-tiered Celsus Library is more than 16 meters high.

"It was the third largest ancient library in the world after the libraries in Alexandria and Pergamum," said Dilek.

Celsus Library
Celsus Library
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

She explained that the library held 12,000 manuscripts. "The papyrus and parchment scrolls were stored in niches in the walls. They weighed 30 to 40 kilograms each, so slaves moved them from the bookcases to the reading room."

World's oldest ad

Following Marble Street from Celsus Library to the Great Theatre, we discovered one of the oldest advertisements in the world. It depicts a foot pointing to an underground tunnel leading to a brothel, the face of a woman, a heart and a purse.

World’s oldest ad
World’s oldest ad
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

We can imagine the conversations in ancient households when husbands told their wives: "Honey, I'm going to the library."

As we strolled past more ruins and pillars, we encountered constant surprises — a cat snoozing below remnants of a carved column, a relief of a Roman helmet sculpted in stone and ruts from chariots that rattled over the marble streets during the Roman period.

Great Theatre

The size of the spectacular Great Theatre at the end of Marble Street astounded us. "It seats 25,000 people in 66 rows," said Dilek. "The bottom row was high above the stage to protect spectators from wild animals during gladiator fights."

She explained that archeologists estimated the size of Ephesus by multiplying the capacity of the theater by ten. "That's how they calculated the population of Ephesus to be 250,000."

Great Theatre
Great Theatre
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Spectators also watched drama performances on the stage. In 50 AD, St. Paul preached to the Ephesians here. More recently, audiences watched concerts by Elton John, Diana Ross, Joan Baez, Bryan Adams, Sting and other celebrities at the Great Theatre.

Ephesus excavations

What did we find even more amazing than this magnificent amphitheater? Even after 160 years of excavations, only 23% of Ephesus has been unearthed.

Who knows what wonders will be discovered for future generations to enjoy?


TRAVEL INFORMATION

For a free brochure and more information visit www.celestyalcruises.com or call 1-877-337-4665 toll free.

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