Saturday, October 7
Arrive at the Turkish resort of Kusadasi, where you will have an included excursion to the magnificent city of Ephesus. You will walk the marble streets and see the fabled Temple of Artemis, another Wonder of the Ancient World, the Stadium and the Library of Celsus. Also visit the House of the Virgin Mary, where she spent the last years of her life. Afterwards, cruise to the island of Patmos, where you will have the opportunity to take an optional excursion to the Monastery of St. John where John received inspiration for the Book of Revelation. Sail on to Heraklion, Crete.
Photos of our Day's Journey
Paul and Ephesus
The first Christian community in Ephesus was established by St John and then further grew under St Paul. Paul came to the city to fulfill a promise he had given while in Corinth. He first preached the gospel in their synagogues and then throughout the city gaining many followers. St. Paul had to struggle with magicians and soothsayers as well as state offices and pagans, but soon, Ephesus became one of the most important city of Christianity serving as the head of the Seven Churches in western Asia Minor.
After his time in Ephesus, St. Paul traveled to Macedonia.
Ephesus: the Golden City
In the ancient world, Ephesus was a center of travel and commerce. Situated on the Aegean Sea at the mouth of the Cayster River, the city was one of the greatest seaports of the ancient world. It's a city that changed the course of time and history. The charm that became the passion of leaders, heroes and believers, the magic that created the myth which was told generation after generation. It became the capital of the ancient world -- The Golden City of Ephesus.
This was the geographical spot where the word cosmopolitan evolved from the words cosmos and polites. The city's wisdom helped create the concept of universal citizenship. Ephesus was one of the few metropolises of the ancient world, and it was Asia Minor's financial, political and cultural capital.
Try to imagine Ephesus in its glory days. A diversity of people wandering around the streets like the colours of a rainbow, Greeks, Romans, even Egyptians... The symbol of prosperity, faith and wealth, the magnetically enchanting city.
Now, picture the agora of such a place. The Agora of Ephesus in its golden age was the meeting hub of the world. The goods from overseas were traded in the market while sailors and merchants negotiated fiercely. The Agora of Ephesus with a population of 250-thousand-people was an inspiration for the sociologists, writers and poets of its era.
The most recent excavations on Ayasuluk Hill aka Selçuk Castle, which is on the northwest of Ephesus prove that the earliest settlements in the region date back to 7000 BC. The research and excavations around the tells (höyük) of Ephesus and the castle of Ayasuluk unearthed early settlements that reach back to Neolithic, Chalcolitic, Bronze eras and to the Hitites.
A CAPITAL MADE OF MARBLE
The Celsus Library, the huge amphitheatre, Hadrianus Temple, agoras, baths, love house, public washrooms and tomb monuments make Ephesus one of the most glorious ancient cities of the world.
When you enter Ephesus through Magnesia Gate, you will see the Varius Bath, Government Agora, Odeion, Municipal Palace, Herakles Gate, Water Palace, Pollio Fountain, Memmius Monument and Domitian Temple in that order.
The first very well known figure you will see is the relief of Nike, the goddess of victory which dates back to 4th or 5th century B.C., the late Roman period. The Greek goddess of victory, Nike is Victoria in Roman mythology and she is depicted as holding a palm leaf with her right hand while carrying a laurel wreath on the other. The goddess also represents speed and strength as she has an extraordinary power to fly and to run with lightning speed. It will instantly remind you of the world known sports brand, Nike and you're right, it is no coincidence. Phil Knight, the founder of Nike company was inspired by the Greek Goddess of Victory and the logo is derived from the relief of Nike. We may as well say that behind the success of the brand stands a goddess.
CLEOPATRA'S SISTER, THE MIGHTY ARSENOI, LIES IN EPHESUS
Did you know that Cleopatra, the last Helenistic queen of Ancient Egypt was Greek?
The wife of the Roman Emperor Julius Caesar, then the lover of Marcus Antonius, Cleopatra had the same dreams as the Great Alexander, to dominate the world by merging Egypt and Rome. However, her sister Arsenoi had a different view. She thought the merge would mean Egypt surrendering to Rome. Cleopatra, ruthlessly ambitious, sent her sister to exile in Ephesus. Arsenoi came to Ephesus and took refuge in the Artemis Temple. However, Marcus Antonius had her killed on the stairs. She was of the royal family so a monumental tomb was constructed for her. With no opposition left for Cleopatra, Egypt merged with the Roman Empire. The enchantingly beautiful and strong Arsenoi became a legend for many generations to come. She lies within the Octagon tomb, in front of the side houses to the south of Kurets Street. The tomb has an octagonal plan with Corynthian style. It is very obvious that the architecture of the monument is different from Roman or Greek styles. This is because this monument is almost a miniature replica of the Alexandria Lighthouse in the beautiful and strong Arsenoi's homeland, Egypt. Hundreds of years later, during excavations, the archaeologists indeed found the remainders of a young girl of about 15 or 16 years old inside the tomb.
HOME OF THE DARK PHILOSOPHER HERACLITUS
The philosopher was born around 535-475 B.C. and he was the first to ask questions about humans, society and nature. Heraclitus is also the father of many philosophical schools that lasted for centuries. He is the owner of the famous verses which are thought to be anonymous: “You can't wash twice in the same river” and “The only thing that does not change is change itself.”
Temple of Artemis
Considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, Ephesus’ Temple of Artemis was dedicated to the goddess of the hunt. Only the foundation and one column remain of this temple which once measured 425 feet (130 m) long, 220 feet (67 m) wide, and 60 feet (18 m) high. Paul's successful ministry in this city was considered a threat to this very temple (Acts 19:27).
Library of Celsus
Originally built in A.D. 115— 25, this restored facade is a highlight of the ruins today. This style is believed to be the standard architectural form for Roman libraries. The interior measures 70 by 80 feet (21 x 24 m) and held approximately 15,000 scrolls.
From the time of Augustus, these dwellings of wealthy Ephesians were decorated with beautiful frescoes and mosaics. The houses had luxurious bedrooms, bathrooms, triclinium, and kitchens. Built against the mountain south of Ephesus, the roof of one house forms the terrace for the house above it. These houses were inhabited until the 7th century A.D.
This market area is known as the “Square Agora” because of its dimensions: 360 feet (110 m) on each side. It arose in the Hellenistic period and was surrounded on all sides by arched shops about 40 feet (12 m) deep. It is located next to the harbor and was the city's main commercial center. It is quite possible that Paul worked here with Priscilla and Aquila in their tent-making business.
Originally holding 25,000 people, this theater was built in the Hellenistic period and was renovated by several Roman emperors. Designed for theatrical performances, later alterations allowed gladiatorial contests to be held here. When Paul was accused of hurting the Artemis and her temple, the mob gathered together in this theater (Acts 19:23-41).