Turkey 23: Selcuk

If there’s one thing this trip has taught me, it’s that earthquakes > Ancient Wonders of the World.

We’re in Selcuk today, a quick 3 and a quarter hour bus ride from Bodrum.  The big draw in this city is Ephesus, which we’ll be visiting tomorrow.  The big draw for me is that it’s not Kusadasi, which has become one of the busiest ports in the Mediterranean simply due to the tourist traffic that Ephesus brings.

So I might be elbowing some midnight buffet enlarged individuals tomorrow.  More on that later.

Selcuk is small, but pretty damn charming, and it’s interesting how food prices DROP when you get away from the coast but, strangely, flavour goes up!  Before seeing anything in town, we sat down to some spicy Adana kebabs underneath a ruined Roman aqueduct and the flavour blew away most of what we had in Fethiye.  And it was half the price.

Ephesus is obviously the heavy hitter in the region, but Selcuk has some major sights of its own.  The first one we hit was the Byzantine Basilica of St. John, built by Emperor Justinian at some point in the 4th century AD.  Justinian was pretty smitten by the fact that St. John (and the Virgin Mary!) had spent time in Ephesus, so he built this GIGANTIC basilica in his honor.  The funny thing when looking at it is you can’t really picture it being just one building.  It looks like a series of smaller temples or structures but, in fact, it was one massive basilica that would still be among the top ten largest in the world today if it had survived various earthquakes and attacks.

Some neat stuff around the basilica, too, including a castle which was closed for renovations, although it looked great from the outside, and the Isa Bey mosque, which dates back to the 14th century.  Standing way off in the distance was a lonely, giant column.  The original site of our second Ancient Wonder of the World in as many days.  This one was in just about as good a shape.

The Temple of Artemis was THE most important building of its time, representing the Ephesians’ fertility Goddess, Artemis, who had kind of been co-opted from her “Goddess of the Hunt” ways.  It was a major pilgrimage site for years and the “Artemis cult” kept the city and temple alive for about a thousand years, from the 7th century BC to the 3rd century AD.  Today, all that’s left is a column.  A huge column, mind you, but just the one.

Back to Selcuk proper we went for another delicious meal and a haircut, during which the barber lit something on fire and waved it over my ears, effectively singing off my ear hairs.  Don’t know if that means they’ll grow back thicker, but there they went.

Tomorrow, Ephesus!

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