Kusadasi, on Turkey’s western Coast, on the Agean Sea, is a city of 65,000 and the primary port for accessing the ancient site of Ephesus. We take an excursion to Ephesus with our guide, Aysin.

This is the high point of the cruise for Karen. We were lucky to arrive at 8 AM, so we missed the crowds and the heat of the day. It’s a huge site, with much more to be excavated. Nearby marble quarries supplied building materials, and it was once a port city.

Ephesus, at it’s peak in 1st and 2nd centuries AD, was one of the grandest cities of the ancient world, ranking among the four leading centers of the Roman Empire ( Alexandria, Antioch and Rome were others). With 250,000 residents, it was second only to Rome in population. It reflects many civilizations, Greek, Persian, Roman, Christian, today’s Turkey.

First settled around 1,000 BC, the city grew as a seaport and religious center. The Ephesians spoke Greek, produced philosophers such as Heraclitus (“the only constant is change”), and popularized the style of Greek columns called Ionic. Also site of the Meander River, whose circuitous course gave us the word. The ruins date largely from the city’s Roman heyday in the first two centuries AD. As the Roman Empire fell, so fell Ephesus, to invading barbarians in 263 AD.

Only 15 percent of the site is excavated, but it’s still one of the largest in the world.

We see the Agora, open air market place, stoa basilica (not a church but a hall where goods were traded), the Odeon, indoor theater and place where city council met, all 450 of them. The Prytaneion, a kind of town hall, and the Sacred Way, where a procession honored Artemis each year. There are fountains, the baths, the Temple of Hadrian, public toilets, Library of Celsus (third largest library in ancient world), and more!

Ephesus was the worship center of the goddess Artemis, later known as Diana.

Pushing on the Gate of Hercules.

Tribute to Nike.

Tom and the bulls.