SELÇUK, TURKEY (NOV 2015)
After a full day of exploring Pamukkale, the next day I enjoyed a wonderful Turkish breakfast at my hotel then took the morning bus to Selçuk.
Selçuk (sel-chuk) is the home of the most famous and most visited archaeological site in Turkey, the Ephesus and that, of course, is what I came for. I also included a side trip to Şirince, the Meryamana (House of Virgin Mary), Basilica of St. John, and the Efes Museum.
Şirince is a small lovely, Tuscan-like hill town near Selçuk. I have a thing for charming little towns so discovering that this town is just a short dolmus-ride away from Selçuk, I decided to visit it after I check-in to my hotel.
According to history, after the fall of Ephesus, a small group of people settled in the mountains. They originally called the village Cirkince (meaning rather ugly) to draw less attention and prevent outsiders from coming into this hill town. Then years later, after the Turkish and Greek population exchange in 1923, the governor of Izmir suggested to change the name of the village to Şirince which means pretty.
House of Virgin Mary
I hired a taxi driver together with a couple from the same hotel where I’m staying to see the house which was said to be where the Virgin Mary spent her last days on earth. The stone house is now a pilgrimage site and every year, on August 15, a ceremony is organized to commemorate the assumption of the Virgin Mary.
Ephesus Archaeological Site
After our visit to the house of Virgin Mary, we finally went to the archaeological site of Ephesus.
This ancient city has a very interesting history and was mentioned a few times in the bible. It was here that the apostle Paul preached about the word of God to the Ephesians, who were mostly pagans and worshiped man-made gods (Artemis). The local crafts people feared that Paul’s message would ruin their businesses so they started a riot. For his safety, Paul had to flee and ended up giving his message by letter. That’s why we have the letter of Paul to the Ephesians in the bible.
Basilica of St. John
Located just within the town of Selcuk, is the ruins of the Basilica of St. John. It’s very near to our hotel so went to see it too after saying goodbye to our driver.
It was believed that St. John the apostle died in Ephesus and was buried on this site while the basilica was constructed over his grave.
Ephesus Archaeological Museum
We ended our long day of sightseeing at the Ephesus Museum since our tickets to St. John’s Basilica includes entrance to this museum. The museum was about to close when we came so we just had a quick visit.
The museum displays the artifacts found from the excavations of the Ephesus archaeological site, St. John’s Basilica, Temple of Artemis, and other excavation sites within the vicinity.