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Ephesus & Environments

Ephesus & Environments

Ephesus is the best-preserved classical city on the Mediterranean, and perhaps the best place in the world to get the feeling for what life was like in Roman times. As a strategic coastal gateway to the Eastern World, this Ionian refuge grew to be the second largest city in the Roman Empire, the site of a Christian shrine, and one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Legend has it that the Virgin Mary, accompanied by St. Paul, came to Ephesus at the end of her life, circa 37-45 AD. Renaissance church historians mentioned the trip, and it is said that local Christians venerated a small house near Ephesus as Mary’s. In 1967 Pope Paul VI. visited the site, where a chapel now stands, and confirmed the authenticity of the legend. Also the Basilica of St. John is located near Ephesus. St. John is said to have lived the last years of his life here and after his death, a shrine was located over his grave.

St. Jean Basilica
The Basilica, which was made in the name of St. Jean by the Byzantine emperor Justinyen in the 6th century A.D., is located on the Ayasuluk Peak. The edifice, which has the dimensions 40X110 m. and is entered from the west, is the shape of a cross. The real church section is covered with six big domes carried by thick elephant’s feet. The narthex is covered with 5 domes. There are sections in which priests lived in the middle of the basilica, under the dome and on the east side of St. Jean’s tomb which is underground. These structures separate from the church in a half circular form. Frescos made up of pictures of saint are found on the north of the grave area. Monograms of the Emperor Justinyen and his wife Theodora are found on the heads of the columns which were restored in the church. St. Jean’s grave is under the section of the dome in the center. It is believed that the sacred dust that comes out of a hole in the grave is good for curing illnesses. St. Jeans grave has been one of the most important places in the world throughout the medieval ages.

Seven Sleepers
It is believed that the place of the seven sleepers was built in the period around the 5th and the 6th century. It is a center of religion. According to the legend, before the acceptance of Christianity as an official religion, seven young people ran away from pagans and took refuge here and they fell asleep and woke up 200 years later. When they woke up Christianity had become an official religion. After this miraculous event it is believed that the 7 people were buried here again after they died and a large structure was made in their name. In the excavations a large structure, mostly carved rock grave remains two churches and catacombs were found. The remains of which we can see four floors of is possibly seven floors in total. The corridors found on the ground floor which were used for religious education, gives it the appearance of a monastery.

The House of Virgin Mary
The House of Virgin Mary, the sacred mother of Christianity is situated on the BULBUL(Canary) Mountain. Mary was handed over by Christ to St. Jean, Mary’s friend and apostle right before he was crucified. After Christ was crucified St. Jean thought it was dangerous for Mary to stay in Bethlehem so he carried her off and brought her here. Even though these rumours became legends, there are indications of proof that it is real. St. Jean who was given the sacred duty of spreading the religion of Christianity chose Ephesus, the greatest city of the era. He hid Mary in a cabin in a corner covered by dense trees at the feet of the Bulbul Mountains because he did not want to let Mary into the Pagans land. It is known that St. Jean secretly visited her everyday, brought her food and something to drink, and checked on her. It is stated that the holy virgin lived in the Bulbul Mountains until she was 101 and she died here. St. Jean buried Virgin Mary somewhere on this mountain where nobody else knows. A cross shaped church was built by the Christians who found the place of Virgin Mary with the guidance of a German nun who was paralyzed and could not come to Turkey, after Christianity was spread.

One of the first seven churches built in the name of Virgin Mary was erected in Ephesus. The Christian people around Ephesus continued a tradition which came from their ancestors and organized religious ceremonies for Virgin Mary every year on August 15th. This and similar signs seem to prove that the Virgin Mary spent the last years of her life around Ephesus. Based on this fact the Papacy approved that this was Virgin Mary’s House in 1957 and it has become a place that is famous for its visits by Christians as well as Muslims.

Isabey Mosque
Selcuk Isabey Mosque is one of the most important structures of Aydinogullari Beyligi (dynasty) ; a dynasty of the Selcuks. The mosque was erected in 1375 by Aydinoglu Isabey , the son of Mehmet Bey from Aydinogullari dynasty. It was designed and built by architect Ali of Damascus. One third of the Structure covers part of the mosque and two thirds of it is the courtyard.

The courtyard has a smooth wooden roof, colonnade and an octagon pool. It shows the transition to the Classic period Ottoman architecture. At the present time, the colonnades in the courtyard are lost. Twelve pillars which surrounded this courtyard still stands. Two long naves with a smooth wooden roof, being parallel to the mihrap, intersect through the tow domes in this mosque (Crosswise nave). You can enter the real mosque building trough a gate Way with Three arches.

The triangle pendentives of the dome in front of the altar is filled with turqoise, dark blue and brown mosaic porcelains, small hexagon plagues and is Ornamented with hexagon geometrical stars. There are stalactite fillings with turquoise porcelain pieces on the octagon tambour of the cupola. The filling is a reminder of the Selcuks Style.

The Mosque seems like Diyarbakir Ulu Mosque and Artukogullari remains the scheme. There were one-brick minarets on the east and west gateway on the west facades is a niche with the grooved arch moulding and with colourful stone Decorations on stalactite rows. The windows and the door are embellished with rich ornamentation. In the earlier building there were wooden arches upholding the two sides of the domes.

Isabey Mosque was van guarded with its architectural facade and the order of the colonnade courtyard to the first grand Ottoman Period’s structures in Bursa, Edirne and Istanbul.

Sirince Village
This pretty old Orthodox village, 12 km away from Ephesus and 30 km from Kusadasi, was once Cirkince (“ugly”). Indeed its habitants gave this name on purpose as they did not want to be bothered by foreigners or to share the beauty of their village.

Still after years, visitors understood that the village was not ugly at all and called it Sirince (“pretty”). As the village is located on the top of a mountain, anyone will enjoy the impressive wine yards’ and peach trees’ views on his way.

Today the village is a perfect synthesis of Turk-Greek culture as of the 1920’s: after the Independence War, people exchange between Greek and Turks has occurred and all those typical Greek houses, though they kept their original outside characteristics, have received the local layout inside. The most beautiful specimens are open to visitors. And even in the courtyard of one of them, one will discover a nicely restorated Orthodox Church.

All the narrow streets of the village belong to the women, selling handcrafts of all kinds, olive oil. Another attraction of Sirince is its wine: try its taste in small cafes or in the former municipal school restorated.

Though Sirince is developing its tourism very quickly, it has been able to preserve its authenticity and the meaning of its name.

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