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I enjoy history but sometimes the dry facts that come with it bore me to the core of my bones. While writing this piece, I find myself enjoying it very much as my memories remain colourful and vividly they dance. I quickly realize that the reason is because my tour guide was witty enough to only err to the fun side. In this travelogue, you’ll read many stories resembling Game of Thrones, enough to make one feel like Daenerys Targaryen for a day. If you ever visit Turkey, make sure you cover these 3 fascinating places!

 

1. Ephesus, the Roman Capital of Asia Minor. 

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Visiting ancient city Ephesus was like entering a scene from GoT.

Here, I witnessed with my own eyes the magnificent ruins of Odeon, Hercules Gate, temple of Hadrian, the library, Agora, and the grand Greco-Roman theatre; which I will accompany with fun facts (only fun stuff!).

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Behind the godly name “Ephesus” lies a simple meaning that is “bee”. Yes, like the buzzing busy bee. If you look at an Ephesus coin, you’ll see a bee on one side. These coins were printed 150KM away from the ancient city.

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When Alexander the Great died, 25 tones of gold that were kept in Pergamon were divided between 4 generals. In 285 BC, one of the generals built Ephesus using his share of gold when he found a port, which made it the most important city at the time. That is how Ephesus came to life. 

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Androcius once spoke to an oracle when he arrived to an island named Samos. The oracle told him, “A fish will show you the way and a boar will help you.” Androcius thought it ridiculous so he and his gang cooked the fish, killed the boar and built a temple where they killed the wild boar.

That temple today is the Temple of Artens, one of the seven wonders of the ancient roman world, located in Ephesus.

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This city was inhabited by 250,000 people, with 50,000 of them being slaves from overseas. Slaves were literally painted and if two slaves got married, people could kill their kids as they like.

Amazon women who hunted, cut off one of their breasts so that they could use the bow and arrow.

Game of Thrones much?

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The Romans came to this land too, luckily without war nor blood. Even the emperors of Rome came here to habor during weekends and did anything or everything that was possible back then: women and drugs.

Fire was used to symbolize that life goes on in the city, just like heartbeat. Streets were illuminated, metal containers filled with woods; burning like lamp posts.

Unfortunately, as the water tide goes down, ships had hard time to stop, which consequently prevented people from entering Ephesus. Human force were used to clean the city but it only lasted for 2 years.

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The people always mixed water with 20 – 50% of wine (apparently they never drink water) because water makes one talk logically (LOL). They had goat cheese, olives, and wine for breakfast, while gossiping about the emperor or talking about politics.

What can we say when these people, the Hitates, have 1000 Gods, even ‘Weed Gods’! (And by weed I mean dope.)

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A prostitute named Scholatiska ran the place above – a brothel. Sailors must be pushed to the hammam (bath) before entering it. These walls used to be marble before they were taken away to build Ephesus the 4th.

I was told (and insisted upon) that all men at the time had boyfriends up to 16 years old. That remained until they hit puberty, until Christianity arrived and changed all that.

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Brothel ad – “If you have a broken heart, I can fix it. Just come to the left.”

How sauna was prepared interests me a lot. Second grade olive oil and clay were smothered on body and hair, followed by pools of cold water to close pores, ending the session with a massage. (I WANT THAT!) As for the warm water section, 4 tones of wood were used everyday to heat water.

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These are toilets. Only ONE sea sponge were used to clean all toilets by the slaves whom were sent by the rich ones to clean them.

As there were no soaps back then, the Hittites used urine to wash their clothes because of the ammonium content in it, followed by water. That is to say, that there would be an actual bag where people begged you to pee in it.

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Where I was still swirling around was the 3rd largest library in the ancient world, until there was a big fire and all the books given to Cleopatra by Marc Anthony were burnt to ashes. Today, most of the surviving content of this library live in the museum of Vienna.

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As there was a big jealousy against the Turks by Egyptians, the latter stopped giving papyrus to them. That was how the Turks invented scrolls to write.

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There was a ‘special’ spot of a store opposite the library where people used to pee at so often, that the store owner put this message on the stone wall stating “If you pee here, the gods will damn you!

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As it was a fashion to put statues in houses, many people came here to take them home. In 1865, a man named John Wood found Ephesus by acciendent when searching for a piece for his house, and became the first man to excavate the area.

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{Ending part 1 at the Greco-Roman theatre}

 

2. House of Virgin Mary

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This house was discovered by a German nun, restored in 1951 sponsored by Vatican City.

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So here’s how the story goes. Saint Paul wanted to convert the people to Christianity hence he gave a speech about it here.

Dimitri was selling silver statues of Artemis at the same time, when Paul came by and said Dimitri was full of bullshit. As a result, he was sentencdd to prison for 6 months. Lucky for him being a Roman (that is ‘high class’ at the time), he was kicked out of the city instead.

That was how Paul went to Rome, added ‘saint’ to his name, and made Christianity famous.

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I asked my tour guide what’s with this pretty ugly wall and with an unamused face, he told me that people liked sticking chewing gum on trees, so they made a wall instead.

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{Garden outside Virgin Mary}

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St. John was said to have taken care of Mary before, and there were evidences that she lived here.

 

3. Basilica of St.John

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Speaking of St. John, here we are at his basilica. Apparently, dust that came out from here healed people.

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{Before}

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{After}

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{This naughty cat tugging at my dress with its nails, reluctant to let go}

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{Glistening meadows}

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{Thrilled to know St. John was buried under this basilica and that here I stand}

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