Istanbul Trip Day 2- Ephesus

We had to get up bright and early to head back to the airport (yes, we just arrived in Istanbul and we’re leaving already! We’ll be back!) to fly to Izmir to tour Ephesus for the day.  We flew AtlasJet from Istanbul to Izmir.  We made arrangements ahead of time to have a private tour guide take us around Ephesus since we did not want to have to drive in Turkey and because I loathe group tours.  We booked our tour through Private Ephesus Tours and our tour guide was excellent.  She was friendly and informative and gave us time on our own to explore without hovering.  Our tour costed $130 per person and included visiting the Temple of Artemis, the ancient city of Ephesus, the Terrace Houses, the Archaeological Museum of Ephesus, the House of the Virgin Mary, the Basilica of St. John and a traditional lunch and visits to carpet and ceramic shops.

Our driver and tour guide picked us up from the airport in Izmir and immediately whisked us away to visit the House of the Virgin Mary.  I would’ve been much more impressed with this site if there were any concrete evidence that this was the House of the Virgin Mary, but it was still a lovely and peaceful site up in the mountains. The house was discovered after a Catholic nun, Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich, had a vision about the last days of the Virgin Mary and the house where she lived located near Ephesus.  Other than that, there is no other proof that this actually was her house.

House of the Virgin Mary.

Next, we went to visit the ancient city of Ephesus and the Terrace Houses.  This was my favorite part of the day.  It was so fascinating to see this ancient city that was such a large part of Paul’s ministry and I was amazed to see how so much of it was still so well preserved.  Ephesus was an ancient Greek city that was known for the Temple of Artemis, which was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.  I was extremely impressed by the Terrace Houses where the wealthy had once lived and how grand it all was. It was so exciting to walk where Paul and so many others had once walked so long ago!

Ancient City of Ephesus

Terrace Houses in Ephesus

Then, we went to the Archeological Museum of Ephesus, which was kind of disappointing after seeing the ancient city of Ephesus.  The museum is known for statue of Artemis from the Temple of Artemis. Then we had lunch that was part of a Turkish carpet shop.  The traditional lunch seemed to be in exchange for visiting a carpet shop that was there, but instead of being pushy sales people, they showed us how they made Turkish rugs and showed us a few rugs, but we were able to politely refuse to purchase anything without the sales people giving us a hard time.

Making Turkish rugs

Then, we went to see the Temple of Artemis, which was one of the treasures of the ancient world and is pretty much a lone standing column with a bird’s nest on top of it.

All that remains of the Temple of Artemis

Then we went to the Bascilica of St. John and it was fun to wander around the Basilica and imagine what used to be there.  And it was also cool to see where John the Apostle was buried.

Burial place of John the Apostle

Since we had plenty of time left before our flight back to Istanbul, our tour guide offered to take us to a ceramics shop, which we decided to do instead of sitting at the airport for an extra hour and the place we went had beautiful ceramics and vases with lower prices and higher quality than what we had seen in Istanbul, so we decided to purchase a small vase.  We were still early for our flight, so we had to hang out at the airport for a little while and we were hoping for some gift shops or something along those lines to occupy us, but unfortunately, there were a few small airport shops, but that was about it.  We had a smooth flight back to Istanbul and we decided to take advantage of the free hotel dinner offered by our hotel, Sokullu Pasa, and this had to be one of the best free hotel dinners I’ve ever had.  It was a 4 course dinner and everything was so delicious.

Fresh fish dinner at Sokullu Pasa Hotel

It was a wonderful second day in Turkey!


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