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Stepping back in ancient times at Ephesus

step-back-in-time-at-ephesus

Sometimes my travel dream gets materialised in an unexpected way just like my trip to Ephesus.

I went to Turkey for a friends wedding in Kusadasi and was chuffed to find out that the ancient ruin was right at my doorstep.

Setting foot at this archaeological site was like stepping back in time. Walking on the marbled floor and walkways, I couldnt help but feel an unspeakable joy. I was walking on the same street where Paul walked. I couldnt wait to visit Jerusalem. I wonder how strong the feeling would be when I get to walk where Jesus walked.

As the capital of Asia Minor, Ephesus was one of the most magnificent cities of the ancient times. The local material was marble which was used in building the temples, affluent peoples houses and other important structures.

The population of Ephesus worshipped several gods and they made temples dedicated to the most prominent ones.

Those temples competed with each other in splendour; but none was greater than Artemis or the Temple of Diana. It was the pride of the Ephesians. In fact it was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Sadly, today theres only marsh where the most magnificent temple proudly stood and a lone pillar was erected to mark its location.

The Ephesians liked to honour their gods with festivities. At their expense, rich people would represent the gods as they were paraded around the city. Lavish gifts were then presented to the aggrandizement of the temple dedicated to the god they portrayed.

Touring Ephesus

Together with a friend, I took a van from Kusadasi to Ephesus and our first stop was Artemis. The ground where it used to be looked like it had been quarried causing a marsh to build up. It was rebuilt and destroyed several times that eventually it was left for utter desolation. You cant even see its ruin except for a lone column and on top was a pelicans nest. 30 minutes is too long to stay here. The plaque with the English history was vandalised so I didnt find any information about it. There were a handful of people selling books about Artemis and some souvenirs.

Next stop was the main highlight of the tour, Ephesus. It looked small from the entrance. However, as I carried on walking, the site got bigger.

As the centre of commerce, Ephesus was a bustling city. Now that it lies in ruins, it is still flocked by people touring and trying to find the landmarks and still admire whats left of their splendour.

I didnt take an organised tour but most of the tourists come in groups and it was easy to blend with them. Everytime I stopped at a point of interest there would be tour guides left and right, back and front speaking in English.

Probably the biggest archaeological site, it took more than a hundred years to uncover the site and they are still digging.

Corinthian Columns

corinthian-columnsIf this was the standard distance between two columns, then Samson must be really big! I tried to re-enact his final act but alas I was too short.

Library Facade

ephesus-library

Rebuilt from the fragments that were found among the rubble, the library is considered as the most beautiful structure on the site. It might look small compared to modern libraries but it had a capacity of more than 10,000 scrolls. It was one of the biggest libraries of the ancient world.

Temple of Medusa

temple-of-medusa

One of the few temples that were restored, the Temple of Medusa stood near the parliament seat.

After more than 3 hours here, our driver took us to Marys Shrine. They claim that Mary was brought there by John to escape the Christian persecution. It is declared as a pilgrimage site by the Vatican but not all tourists are pilgrims.

For 130 Lira, it looks like we paid more than what we got. Although it included entrance fees and lunch but not drinks, we didnt have a tour guide. Our driver just waited for us in the van. If I knew about Ephesus I could have researched for organised tours, but everything was done at the last minute. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed the tour.

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By the canal outside Anne Franks house I sat and wept

Anne Frank House

For the love of writing, my trip to Amsterdam would have been incomplete without a visit to Anne Frank House.

At the beginning of the tour I expected to read her diaries plastered on the walls but there were only captioned photos and mementos. I couldnt find an emotional response to what I was seeing and reading. I wanted to rebuke myself for my lack of empathy. I had never seen the film nor read The Diary of Anne Frank but I thought I knew her story.

Born in Frankfurt-am-Mein, Anne was the second daughter of Otto and Edith Frank. The other daughter, Margot was 4 years older.

When Hitler started arresting the Jews, Otto moved his family to Amsterdam and set up a jam factory.

Soon the Nazi invaded Amsterdam and to keep his business, Otto transferred the ownership to one of his staff, Miep. As Hitlers forces relentlessly searched for every Jew, Otto declared to Miep that he had decided to hide with his family in the factory house.

Later on, four more people joined the Franks.

As the story unfolded, my heart started to break especially when I got to the Secret Annex. Annes diaries evoked unspeakable sadness. They couldnt glimpse even a single ray of light. For more than two years they lived like they didnt exist.

It was like watching a suspense thriller. The plot was building up and I couldnt wait to get to the end of the story and read about the happy ending.

However, it took a twist and the 8 prisoners were betrayed. Though wretched and miserable as it may have sounded, the Secret Annex was a haven compared to the concentration camp.

No more diary entrees for Anne but her story continued through the recollection of her friend. Finally, I could see the end of the story.

In a short video clip towards the end of the tour, Otto Frank talked about his discovery of Annes diary and her dream to be a famous publisher.

I thought I knew the story of Anne Frank but my visit to her house and The Secret Annex revealed I didnt. Anne Frank was just like any other girls who wanted to love and laugh, to live in a peaceful community where she could exercise her rights. She had great aspirations and determination.

Today, her book The Diary of A Young Girl has been translated in 70 languages and was included in the World Heritage Memory of the World Register.

By the canal outside Anne Franks House I sat and wept when I realised she didnt live to see her dream fulfilled.

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