Exploring the west coast of Turkey: Ephesus and house of the Virgin Mary
Ephesus was definitely on my list of places to visit in Turkey and I am very glad that I was able to be there when it wasn’t extremely crowded! As soon as Brooke and I walked past the entrance gate we could see the monumental amphitheater. It seemed to be about half the size of Michigan State’s football field, but really it is about one-third the size, holding 20,000-25,000 people. Originally built in the 3rd century B.C., it was expanded to the current size during the 1st century A.D. It would be amazing to watch a performance in this theater because you’d also have a fantastic view of the mountains.
The entrance to the Library of Celsus is a well known structure in the city and the architectural details were stunning. The statues in the niches are actually reproductions and the originals are in the Ephesus Museum in Vienna. The Austrian Archaeological Institute helped restore the structure which is why these works are now there. Brooke and I also saw the Temple of Hadrian, the Gate of Heracles, and columns and mosaic tiles around the city.
After we walked through Ephesus, we caught a taxi up the mountain to the House of the Virgin Mary. This is the last house where Mary lived and it was discovered from the visions of a German nun, Anne Catherine Emmerich. The Roman Catholic Church has apparently never announced their acceptance of authenticity but, nevertheless, the Pope has been there in 2006 to hold a special service. The house continues to be a site of pilgrimage, particularly on the date of Mary’s death, August 15. In the slideshow you can see the picture of the house just before the large statue of Mary. There were many people praying inside the house and lighting candles after walking through the house. I wrote a prayer on a napkin and tied it to the wall of prayers just like many others had done. Before traveling to Ephesus I did not know I’d be visiting Mary’s house and I’m glad I was able to have the experience.