There are some places in this world like Turkey which are so beautiful and leaves such a mark on your heart and soul that you do not want to forget it. The other feeling which predominants after happiness and peace is want to share the experience with your loved ones. I was lucky to be travelling with my partner and share the beauty and the peace and freedom together. I am writing about Ephesus Day tour and Sirince Village so that all of you who read it, would experience and be inspired to visit this amazing transcontinental country.
A little about Ephesus Before Ephesus Day tour
Ephesus is a 10 century BC ancient Greek village near present day Selcuk of the izmir province of Turkey. It was famous for the Temple of Artemis, which was one of the seven wonders of the Ancient world. It has a rich history as there were many settlements which settled in this area. It was close to the harbour and so an important commercial centre. The loss of the harbour forces ephesus to lose its connection with the Aegean Sea. The ruins of Ephesus has become a favourite International and local tourist spot. There are some beautiful spots you would come across when you visit this beautiful place.
How to reach Ephesus and how to arrange for a day trip to Ephesus.
We took a domestic flight from Istanbul to Adnan Menderes airport of Izmir, the flight was an hour long, and since it was an early morning flight , we saw the most beautiful sunrise from the flight. Our first choice to visit Selcuk and Ephesus was to rent a car, however you need a credit card in the name of the driver and we did not have one. So please take the credit card and driver’s license belonging to the same person. However I feel it was for good that we did not get a car.
There are local buses running just outside the airport to the nearby locations and we decided to took one,there was a little wait and then is when we have our first taste of the turkish tea, a pleasantly cold morning, a hot turkish tea and a wonderful day ahead of us, left us happy and excited and the travel of one hour from Izmir to Selcuk bus stop passed in this anticipation. The price for the tickets was 30 Liras.
There are trains which run from Izmir to Selcuk as well, however they start later in the day around 8.30 and so we took the bus which was earlier. There are taxis available, which are quite expensive and are around 200 TRY. We took a taxi back as we had an early flight back and that costed us around 250 TRY in the early morning.
The bus stop at Selcuk is very close the Ephesus Archaeological Museum, and your hotel may be a 10 minutes walk from there.
Where to stay when on Ephesus Day Tour and Sirince village.
We wanted to stay in Selcuk , as it was a small town compared to Izmir, closer to Ephesus as well as close to Sirince which is a small turkish village which is must visit if you are coming to Selcuk. There are many beautiful boutique hotels available in this area and every hotel we looked was so inviting and cosy.
We stayed at a hotel called Amazon Antique which was a pretty nice hotel, and the family looking after the hotel was very helpful and cordial. We paid around 50 Euros for the hotel for 2 nights. The rooms were names in the different gods and iconic places of the area. Our room name was Artemis and it was beautiful. The breakfast this hotel served the two days was grand and complimentary. It was a traditional turkish Breakfast with cheese platters, a selection of jams, cakes and turkish tea and coffee. Oh how I miss the breakfast and food of Turkey.
Please book you stay now at Booking.com
How to go to see House of Mary, temple of Artemis, Ruins of Ephesus and Basilica of St John on your Ephesus Day Tour
We had a few options like renting a scooter ( It was not so easy to find a rental company which was open and happy to rent on a saturday), to take taxi around the place ( could be expensive for the day) , book a small tour with tour company.
We went with a tour company called Ala Turk which was a good choice and decision. We were a group of 6 people and our guide was this chirpy girl who explained all the places in great detail and gave us sufficient time to enjoy the place. Highly recommended.
First highlight of our Ephesus Day tour – The house of Virgin Mary
A beautiful place to visit with a lot of history and strong belief and proof that Virgin Mary spent her last days in this place and died here. It is said that a German nun had a vision about this place which was on top of a hill, overlooking the sea. She described this to a German writer who then discovered this place. And since St John was asked to take care of Virgin Mary and his tomb is also in the same province, turkish and many other archaeologists believe that this is the actual house of Virgin Mary and has since become a pilgrimage place. It costs 15 TL to enter the place, however for us it was included in our trip cost. The place is beautiful with trees and a old stone house which feels so spiritual and peaceful. Near the entrance it is believed that there is a underground spring where one should make a wish before tasting the water.
There is a wall of wish as well where visitors can write their wishes in a tissue and tie it there. There are many things like carpets and walking sticks which has been gifted by the people whose wishes come true. How can you ignore such a tradition, so we took some tissues m, wrote our wishes and tied it. we also lit candles and the overall experience felt surreal.
Second highlight of our Ephesus Day tour – Ephesus Ruins
Please hire a guide to know the history of this ancient greek remains, as the place would seem alive and you would be able to understand and comprehend the various aspects of their culture, like the baths, temple of Artemis, the difference between rich and poor,the plague and the swamp, the secret tunnels etc.
Ironically, the ruins are beautiful and walking around the place and listening to the stories we could really feel that basic human principles have not changed and also that the planning, the mosaics, the constructions, the massiv theatre etc were all flawless and brilliantly planned.
Actually every remain was beautiful to see and it is difficult to choose but there are three structures which were the highlight of the Ephesus day tour
1.The beautiful terraced houses-
There is an addition Entry cost for the Terraced houses, which is 36 Lira. But it is definitely worth a visit.
The house of the rich, beautifully designed having 5 terraces, all covered with protective roofing. The mosaics and frescoes which are a state of art and all collected in two houses which are open to the public. In the two storey house, the below one generally were the dining and living rooms and the upper storey has the bedrooms and bathrooms. Heating was provide in the house using hot air through clay pipes, below the floor and in the walls. It is beautiful to see this place and imagine the benefits and luxury if the rich of 6th century people.
2. Celsus Library of Ephesus
There is no additional cost for visiting the Celsus Library and should be a part of your tour.
One of the most beautiful structure dating back to 2nd century AD, Library of Celsus is one of the most iconic sites of Ephesus. The restoration on this has been lovely and you would have seen many a pictures of this whenever you search Ephesus ruins. It was a monumental tomb, and the grave of Celsus is beneath the ground, with status of “goddess of Wisdom’ Athena on top.
Lots of scrolls of manuscripts, around 12000 were stored in the Celsus library which were protected by making double walls. This was to protect the from extreme temperatures and humidity. It is believed to the the third richest Library in the ancient world.
The facade of the library has two-stories, with Corinthian style columns There is three windows openings in the upper story. The statues in the columns are restored from the originals. The statues symbolize wisdom (Sophia), knowledge (Episteme), intelligence (Ennoia) and valor (Arete). These were the virtues of Celsus.
3. The Great theatre of Ephesus
When you see places and structures of the ancient times you realized that how developed our ancestors were and far sighted even in their times. This theatre built on top of Panayir hill and could accommodate around 20 thousand people. the entrance for the rich and poor were different. Everyone seated in the theatre had view of the performance as the back seats were elevated and hence one could clearly see into the central stage.
Theatre comes from the word Theatron in Greek language which means ‘ a place to observe’ . The stage was three storeyed or 18 M in height. There were political, religious and social events which used to take place.Gladiator fights were common. This brought to the completion of Ephesus ruins tour.
Third highlight of our Ephesus Day tour – Temple of Artemis
The ruins temple of Artemis is nothing much but a few stones and a column which was discovered after seven years of long search. However when you stand looking down at the temple ruins and see the structure it was in postcard, you can imagine how beautiful it would have been. The temple was adorned by a lot of sculptures and paintings and we hope we would see some restorations to this place in the coming years.
A few more places you should visit
We only passed through the outside because of time constraint, however a few more places which you could spend time in Selcuk, is the Ephesus Archaeological Museum which has a lot of remains , idols and sculptors of the remains from Ephesus. The statue of Goddess Artemis is worth seeing. You could enter and see Basilica of St john which looked like a must visit.
The Little Turkish village of Sirince- What a beauty.
There is a bus stop in Selcuk opposite to the musuem which take you to Sirince for just 4 Liras. Sirince is a small Turkish village just 8 Kms away from Selcuk. The place is beautiful and captures the essence of Turkey so nicely. It is on a small hill and you would have a lovely evening walking around, gazing at the beautiful shops , meeting the local people and having the best wine and Turkish food.
The shops here are so colorful which a lot of souvenirs and colorful jams and stoles and lamps. You would love exploring it. We bought a lot of small stuffs from here and made our way up to see the sirince houses and soak in the ambience and beauty around us. There is a open tea shop at the top where it very windy and beautiful and it is fun to enjoy a turkish tea.
You will also find a lot of wonderful cafes serving Turkish delicacies. There was a place on the top where we met two old women selling handmade towels. They were so friendly and we sat and had a nice talk with them. They blessed us when we left and it was moment. We had wonderful time there and then enjoyed a nice dinner in the village. The place was filled with cats who look for food. The way back is the same bus stop.
It was day one of our Turkey trip however it was so fulfilling and we saw and did so much that it felt like more that a day. Highly recommended for everyone planning a Turkey trip. Look forward to day 2 of our trip to Turkey.