Today we explored Ephesus, the best-preserved Roman ruins in the world. Although the city existed for centuries, it reached its height during the first and second century AD, when its population reached 200,000. The thing that impressed me most about Ephesus was its scale. Everything was big. Big columns, big walls, big streets. The two most famous sites in Ephesus are the front of the Library and the Grand Theatre. The library was awesome just because the very high two-story façade is still standing, while much of its detail remains intact. Looking at it, you don’t have to imagine too much what it would’ve looked like. The Theatre was impressive due its size, as it had a capacity of over 25,000. I believe it’s the largest and best preserved theatre in the Roman world. And of course, the history of the place was not lost on me. The architecture was world renowned in its day and I’ve studied it in Art History classes thousands of years later. It was cool to see the theatre, as it was central to Paul’s story when he was in Ephesus. The city is written about so much in the Bible and the ruins are preserved so well, it’s easy to imagine everything. It’s not like there’s a few sentences in the Bible about Ephesus and we looked at a couple fallen pillars. We walked down the main street, we saw the ruins of the homes, there were inscriptions on everything, statues were still standing, the promenade to the harbor was in good shape, we looked out and saw the same hills that the Greek and Roman Ephesians did. And since Turkey isn’t first world yet or ultra-touristy like Paris or Athens, we could walk anywhere, climb up stairs and walls, and touch things. This is a pretty condensed summary, but it has to be or else I’d write forever about it.
After Ephesus, we were all about to die of heat-stroke, so we hit the beach. It was definitely more conservative than Germany or Greece, where the beaches had topless women. Here, most of the women wore super-conservative bathing suits and I even saw some women fully-clothed in the water- full clothing, overcoat, and head covering. It’s gotta be tough for Islamic women to wear so much. It’s been like a million degrees out and they’re wearing clothes, plus a long-sleeve ankle-length overcoat too. I mean not all women, but some. The longer I’m here, the more I realize that Turkey is both European and Middle-Eastern. You can’t classify it as one or the other. We are definitely moving east though, as I noticed some Turkish children laughing at my white skin at the beach.