Monday, 19 January 2015

Kusadasi Diaries : Visiting the ancient city of Ephesus

Usually, when we get back from our summer holiday, we have a couple of weeks before heading back to work and school, so I have time to share all our holiday snaps and tell you what we got up to. This year, we went to Turkey at the end of August so headed straight back to the hectic new-school-year routine on our return, which meant that I never found the time to share our adventures with you. Better late than never, I've decided I'd share them with you now. 

One of the main attractions in this area of Turkey is the ancient Greek/Roman city of Ephesus (or Efes in Turkish). It's the reason why so many cruise ships stop off at Kusadasi, as it's only 20km away. We actually had an argument about Ephesus on our original trip to Turkey back in 2010 (when we stayed in Yalikavak near Bodrum) because Madhouse Daddy absolutely wanted to go there but I maintained that it was too far and too hot with a 1-year-old. I won, but he got to go there this year !

Ephesus was originally built in the 10th century BC. For various reasons (earthquake, destruction ...), the ancient city was rebuilt four times through the years. The city flourished after it came under the control of the Roman Republic in 129 BC and it was famed for the Temple of Artemis (completed around 550 BC), one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Excavations were first undertaken as far back as 1869 but began in earnest in 1954. After forty odd years of digging up as much as possible, the emphasis over the last 15 years or so has been on putting all the pieces together like a huge jigsaw. Despite the amazing work and the highly impressive finds, only about 10% of the ancient city has been unearthed so far.

Wherever you look, there are intricate columns, sculptures and structures. I was quite shocked to see that they seem totally unprotected.

Sophie used these ancient carved plinths to provide some welcome shade.

And Pierre thought it made a great playground. I was mortified but nobody batted an eyelid. I suppose if it's been there that long and survived earthquakes, burial and excavation, a 5-year-old isn't going to cause much damage !

My top tip for visiting Ephesus is to make sure that your coach/taxi/dolmus drops you off at the top gate so that you walk down to the lower gate/car park, rather than trying to climb uphill in the sweltering heat. Our guide pointed out that all the Japanese tourists have umbrellas with them for shade - that's actually a pretty good idea.

The kids were more fascinated by the numerous friendly cats than the ancient stones !

We had a guide with us who pointed out the various structures - temples, odeon (theatre), basilica, even brothel and toilets ! There are no signs on anything so you do need a guide or guidebook to really understand what you're looking at.

The Great Theatre has 25,000 seats and it's pretty amazing to think that Roman plays, gladiator and animal fights took place here.

The most impressive building is the Celsus Library which was built in 117 A.D.

Close up, you can see the intricate carvings on the stonework.

The attention to detail was what impressed me the most as we were walking around the ruins.

It's amazing to think that the writing carved into the colums has been there for hundreds if not thousands of years and is still perfectly legible.

There is very little shade so Sophie found the cool spots wherever she could.

Even so, her plastic sunglasses couldn't take the heat and melted, which caused a great deal of hilarity because they broke in stages throughout the visit !

Chez Maximka


  1. I was here years ago, I loved it to, we then went on to an amazing place called Pamukale which looked like snow, it was rocks covered in minerals. I would love to take the kids to Ephesus now they are old enough.

    1. we're going back to Kusadasi this year and I'd love to go to Pamukale but it's quite a way away - I've seen the pictures though and it looks amazing

  2. This looks amazing, love the pile of pipes in the first photo.

  3. Thanks for sharing this beautiful blog of Turkey. Ephesus is a awesome place for vacation. If you are newly wedded couple then you should visit Ephesus, sightseeing at Istanbul, Cappadocia, Ephesus, Bodrum and back to Istanbul. About Ephesus tour provides tours for the honeymooners include visit to the old city, half-day Bosphorus Boat cruise, tour of the city of Cappadocia, and other destination.