- August 7th, 2011
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Don’t you love it when something exceedes your expectations? Or maybe when reaching your destination you experience something beyond a simple visit and a tour – maybe something deeper. Such was the case for me one day in the ancient city of Ephesus, Turkey.
I first heard of Ephesus in my Sunday School classes decades ago, but didn’t realize then that the remains of the town still existed. Recently, when the opportunity came to make a one-day stop in Kusadasi Turkey, I jumped at the chance to visit the ruins of the amazing and historic city of Ephesus some 20 miles away.
As part of my normal planning, I had looked through photos of the town, located it on Google Earth and marked the direction and time of the sunrise. I made a list of the must-have shots, and knew that I’d have to work fast because the place is crawling with tourists most of the day.
My wife and I arrived at the gates to the city at 7:40a, bought our entry tickets, but had to wait until 8a for the gate to open. For those 20 minutes we were alone, standing on a dusty unpaved road near the entrance. Nothing that we saw reminded us of our current century. Off in the distance a donkey pulling a cart lazily walked by. There was an uncanny quiet – in fact the only sound we could hear was that of the air rushing through the giant storks wings as they flew overhead. Somewhere in the hillside behind us the Virgin Mary most likely lived out her final years. We could almost visualize her now walking down the winding road into town. It was all a bit surreal.
Once the gate opened, my mind went into work mode and I quickly walked to where I knew my most important shots were going to be. So far, the ‘crowd’ amounted to 4 Brits and us – but I knew that wasn’t going to last long.
The ruins themselves are really impressive; the beautifully marble-paved Street of Curetes is amazing. Later, once the crowds arrived I could see that nobody really gets to look at the street itself – there’s too many people in the way. But for that first 40 minutes or so, we could see the whole city (at least the part that’s been excavated). The sites; Library of Celcus, Temple of Hadrian, Grand Theatre are all incredible. But what captured me most was the sense of place and time that I felt while there.
The Ephesians designed their homes with running water – using the hot water springs nearby to flow under their stone floors and thus warm their homes. Their beautiful mosaic floors were meticulously pieced together – and still retain their color. Their advanced society was seen everywhere. We were totally transported back in time and felt the daily life experiences of these people. I’ve been to countless historic sites, but this one really struck me.
I made a number of photos that day, some that I really like. But the real treasure for me was connecting with other humans from a totally different era. And realizing that while civilizations come and go, we all share a common thread with those that have gone before – a thread that continues to meander through every society today.