Brief Readings

ISTANBUL

Istanbul, where Europe faces Asia across the winding turquoise waters of the Bosphorus. The important trade route between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. But also the overland traffic travelling from Europe into Asia Minor.
The Bosphorus with one key opens and closes two worlds, two seas. East or West, Istanbul is the best forever.
The name means “to the city” in the old Greek language. For many centuries, Istanbul was the fascinating metropolis for anyone in anywhere of the world. She is still the Big Apple for millions. Throughout the ages, Istanbul has been known as Byzantium, the New Rome, and as Constantinople. It became the seat of the Eastern Roman Empire in A.D. 330. Ataturk introduced his sweeping secular reforms in the 20th centrury for bringing Turkey into the modern age here. Istanbul witnessed the passing of Greeks, Persians, and early Romans, flowered in the sixth century under the Emperor Justinian, who built the Saint Sophia, the church-mosque that crowns the city to this day, and rose again from ruin and neglect in the 16th century, when the Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II set about building mosques, monuments, and a magnificent royal enclave, the Topkapi Palace.
Istanbul is a city to savor at leisure, whether by pausing to catch another glimpse of minaret-pierced skyline or by sitting down with an antique dealer for your umpteenth glass of turkish tea. Begin to explore in Old Istanbul, where a staggering wealth of sights are within easy reach of one another, then venture across the Golden Horn on the Galata Bridge into modern Taksim area (Beyoglu) and the other sections of the city that sprawls, picturesquely, along both sides of the Bosphorus.

ASSOS

She is from Assos, Turkey’s Aegean Coast. The earlier settlers were from the Greek island of Lesbos. The ancient acropolis has the wonderful view over the ancient port where Saint Paul sailed to Mytilini. The sixth-century B.C. Temple of Athena still stands in Assos.
Assos is a divided  city: Half of its inhabitants live around the imposing ruins, set on a hill, and the other half live in the small port below.
Assos, 70 km south of Troy, may have been a Hitite settlement in the 13th century B.C. Its true rise began in the eight century when settlers from the Island of Lesbos took root here. They constructed a terraced city which was set on an impregnable site above Aegean shipping routes. In the 4th century B.C., Hermias, a former student at Plato’s Academy in Athens, rose to power and instituted a regime based on the Platonic notion of the philosopher-king. Aristotle joined this school of philosophy. Later he married the niece of Hermias. After his execution by the Persians, the city passed from one ruling power to the next. The 14th century Murad Hudavendigar Mosque was built by the medieval Ottomans.
The sixth century B.C. Temple of Athena’s the original doric columns were restored by the American archaeological team. All essential components of a classical city are still remaining there. The necropolis is well preserved, strewn with pieces of the limestone sarcophagi for which ancient Assos was famous.

PAMUKKALE – HIERAPOLIS

The Martyrion of Saint Philip’s remains are here. The ancient city was called Hierapolis. It was a favored city for the hot springs, the textile industry, the unusual colored marble, and the Temple of Apollo.
Today, you can swim among the artifacts scattered in the waters at Pamukkale. Hierapolis was a very prosperous city during the Roman times.
One of the most popular sites in the Aegean region is the spectacular travertine terraces of Pamukkale. The ancient ruins belong to Hierapolis town from Romans.
This amazing natural formation has been created by mineral-rich hot springs cascading down the hillside and depositing layers of calcium carbonate. The resulting pools, terraces, and ‘petrified waterfalls’ of dazzling white travetine are one of Turkey’s most famous sights.
The ruins of ancient Hierapolis lie scattered on the hillside above the limestone terraces, adding historical interest to natural beauty. In the grounds of the antique pool, you can bathe in the Sacred Pool, where the therapeutic, restorative spring waters will float you above a picturesque jumble of broken columns and corinthian capitals.

CAPPADOCIA

Cappadocia has the most beautiful landscapes and magical rock formations in Turkey. Home to early Christians in Central Anatolia. In the triangle between Urgup, Uchisar, and Avanos, there are so many cave dwellings, underground cities, secret churches, and distinctive volcanic geological formations. St. Basil was born in Cappadocia.
Nature and no small amount of human zeal has shaped Cappadocia, the most magical place you are ever likely to encounter in Turkey. Over millions of years, volcanic eruptions have covered this region, deep in the mountainous center of Central Anatolia, in deep layers of ash and mud that has solidified into tufa. This soft rock, shaped by the elements into whimsically conical spires called fairy chimneys, proved to be heaven-sent when the early inhabitants embraced Christianity, and found that their faith put them at odds with Romans, Arabs, and even other Christians in Anatolia. Digging into the pliant tufa, they were able to build secret churches, dwellings, and entire underground cities that could harbor as many as 20,000 souls in safety from marauding raiders.
Even in times of peace, cave dwellings tucked into verdant valleys proved to lend themselves ideally to a monastic lifestyle, such as that espoused by Saint Basil, who was born in Cappadocia. Over the years, the ease of digging into the soft tufa has made troglodytes of most Cappadocians, whatever their religious convictions. Every village in the region is, at least in part, a community of caves etched out of weirdly shaped outcroppings. What awaits visitors, especially, in the triangle between Urgup, Goreme, and Avanos is a landscape that is nothing short of bizarre, and all the more fascinating for it.
Cappadocia lends itself especially well to exploration on foot, and aside from its distinctive caves and geological formations, the orchards, fields, and forested river valleys invite unhurried walks. In your wanderings you will have the pleasure of encountering present Cappadocians, who are often on horseback or behind a plow pulled by a mule. They may well offer you some local wine and tell you where to find a hidden cave church.

EPHESUS

Ephesus is one of the best-preserved ancient cities in Turkey. Both Saint Paul and Saint John the Evangelist preached here. The Ephesus theater could seat 24,000 people back then.
The other big attractions in Ephesus are the Temple of Hadrian, the Library of Celsus, and the Terrace Houses for the ultra rich people of the ancient world.
The gleaming marble monuments of Ephesus, 80 km south of Izmir on the coast road, comprise one of the best-preserved ancient cities on the Eastern Mediterranean, and are an absolute magnet for tourists. Note that Ephesus and the adjacent town of Selcuk are really a pair, so what you see in the Selcuk museum will illuminate your visit to the ancient city, and Selcuk is the site of the great Temple of Artemis, which was one of the seven wonders of the ancient World.
Set on a sheltered harbor and at the mouth of a river, Ephesus has been a settlement for millennia. It was originally built by immigrant Athenians in 1000 B.C., was conquered by the rich King Croesus, and was then held, in relatively peaceful succession, by the Persians, Alexander, the Romans, and the Byzantines. Originally founded to celebrate the Greek goddess Artemis, the city moved as smoothly through its various religious incarnations as it did through its political ones. Both Saint Paul and Saint John the Evangelist preached here. Saint John may have been accompanied by the elderly Mary to Ephesus. The city was the site of two church councils. The decline of the worship of Artemis somehow sapped Ephesus of its founders’ vigor; this, and the silting of its harbor caused it to decline in both influence and size during the Byzantine era.
Nonetheless, what remains is magnificent. The first century A.D. stadium was designed to seat 30,000 people. It was a venue for everything from chariot races to gladiatorial contests. The ancient theater was started in the Hellenistic period, what stands today is almost entirely Roman. It is a huge semi-circle edifice backed by Mount Pion. The pitch increases as you climb up the rows of seats, allowing a clear view of the stage for spectators in the upper reaches. The theater could seat 24,000 and, over the centuries, viewers were treated to plays, as well as the preaching of Sain Paul; in modern times, the theater hosts music and dance performances in May.
The theater stands at one end of the Arcadian Way, a wide colonnaded Street that runs to the middle harbor gate. Built in the fifth century A.D., it was the model of an urban thoroughfare. On the either side were covered walkways protected strollers from the sun and the rain. Plus illuminated at night with lamps. Crews from ships made their way into the city by this way. They must have mingled with the townspeople here, exchanging news of the outside World while they relaxed in this comfortable, cosmopolitan port city.
From the theater, follow the Marble Avenue, paved with marble slabs, to the Library of Celcus. It was erected in the second century A.D. by the Roman Consul Gaius Julius Aquila. His father Celcus was subsequently buried in an ornate sarcophagus under the building’s western wall. The library housed 12,000 scrolls that were stored in the niches seperated from the outer walls, to protect them from heavy heat and humidity during the hot summers.
Near the library, the Kuretes Street crosses the Marble Avenue, and at the corner is the city’s brothel. The small Temple of Hadrian lies farther up the street. Dedicated in the second century A.D. as a gift to the city, and to Artemis by the roman emperor Hadrian. This gracious structure fronted by Corinthian columns. The original friezes are in the selcuk museum. Nearby, note the large mosaic floors are located at front of the row of shops. Behind them, steps lead up to the Terrace Houses. These airy, frescoed, mosaic-decorated structures were home to the ultra riches of Ephesus in the imperial and early Christian period. They will give you an idea of what life was like fort he well-to-do.
The Street of Kuretes continues past the Odeon, a small theater for poetry readings and music, to the Magnesian Gate. Here a colonnaded road to the Temple of Artemis begins. Also caravans bound for the east left from this point for the ancient Persia and India passing through Susa.

SELCUK

The living town attached to Ephesus is Selcuk. Saint John the Evangelist died here and buried on Ayasoluk Hill. A castle sits atop Ayasoluk Hill provides a wonderful view. Selcuk Archaeological Museum houses a really wonderful collection, mostly from Ephesus.
Just outside of town is the Temple of Artemis. Another outlying place of interest is the House of the Virgin Mary.
Selcuk began its rise to prominence in the fifth century A.D., when the harbor at Ephesus silted over. Ayasoluk Hill is a good spot to begin your explorations in town. In the sixth century A.D., the Emperor Justinian constructed an ornate Basilica here. Until its destruction in the 15th century by the Mongols, this basilica was one of the largest in the world. Today, from a church group in Lima, Ohio, the basilica has been restored with funds in parts.
Selcuk Museum’s second room holds smaller objects – a bronze of Eros riding a dolphin, miniatures from the Terrace Houses, a fine wall paitings of Socrates, as well as a reconstruction of a room from the terrace houses. In Room 3, don’t miss the statue of an Egyptian  pagan priest. Some very fine sarcophagi decorate the museum garden, and Room 4 displays the found objects in the tombs. Room 5 is dedicated to the statues of Beautiful Artemis, and the Great Artemis from Ephesus. She was the chief divine deity in Epehesus. Room 6 holds the original friezes from the Temple of Hadrian.
Just outside of Selcuk town, there are the ruins of the Temple of Artemis. It’s believed being one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Now, the centuries of neglect and looting made it look a very less impressive sight. Let your imagination work to re-erect the 126 marble columns, recreate the magnificent friezes, and Picture the goddess of the fertility at home.
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