OKT Shipping, Istanbul - Taking Breaks - Ephesus & House of Virgin Mary

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Apr 14, 2021, 6:37:53 AM4/14/21
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Taking Breaks - Ephesus; a marvel of the ancient world & House of Virgin Mary- OKT Shipping, Istanbul


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Many people who normally work in an office setting surrounded by colleagues are now working remotely because of social distancing. Working from home has many advantages, particularly for slowing virus transmission during a pandemic.


Remote workers, particularly those new to remote work because of COVID-19, should plan to take breaks during their workday. Pandemic social distancing measures might mean that you have children out of school or daycare and a partner or roommate also trying to work from home. Breaks can help you balance all these elements.


Therefore, we are focusing breaks that are different from our work and entertain us with our new articles periodically!


EPHESUS, a marvel of the ancient world

UNESCO World Heritage


Image result for ephesus


Ephesus was once, indeed, a cosmopolitan center of culture, commerce and modern architecture, a convergence point of philosophy and governance, but why else does it deserve a visit and why was it added to UNESCO's prestigious World Heritage List in 2015.


Let's step back in time to see from the beginning what the first and greatest metropolis of Asia was like.


With a sprawling population that reached 200,000 at one point in its history, Ephesus was one of the 12 mighty cities of the Ionian League when it was built in the 11th century B.C.


There are two legends pertaining to its founding. The first says it was the Ionian Prince Androclos who founded it, and he chose the area after guidance from the oracles in Delphi on his quest to establish a new Greek settlement.


The second says the mythical Amazon-warrior women named the ancient city after their queen, Ephesia.


Fast forward to Roman times when it became the proconsular capital of western Asia Minor with lands that included the likes of Lydia, Caria and most of Phrygia. The city was also the center of worship for Artemis (known as Diana by the Romans), Apollo's twin and the goddess of hunting, wild animals and the moon. The Temple of Artemis, located in Ephesus, was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Besides Zeus, Artemis and Apollo, 15 other Gods and Goddesses are said to have been worshipped in Ephesus at one time.


The ancient city of Ephesus (Ephesos) takes you on an unforgettable journey through history; etched on minds as the home of the Blessed Virgin Mary, stretching back to the Neolithic period and inhabited in the greatest period of the Roman Empire. This ancient city was valued for a long time as a harbour town, and due to the excavations which have uncovered new sections and artefacts every year, the city continues to surprise its visitors and to maintain its historical value. Many famous classical philosophers, who are still read today, such as Heraclitus, lived in the scientific, artistic and cultural city of Ephesus. The ancient city of Ephesus, and especially its Temple of Artemis, one of the first temples, is recognised as one of the seven wonders of the world and since 2015 it has been included in the ‘World Heritage List’. 


Biblical Ephesus, Mother Mary House, St John Basilica and Temple of Artemis Tour from Izmir with Private Guide


Over the years the site has moved, and it is now spread over an area of 8kms. This breath-taking city attracts approximately 1.5 million tourists annually. It is believed that the Bible was written here and that the Virgin Mary died here, which gives it a special significance for Christians.   It is believed that Ephesus was founded as far back as 6000 BC and was built to pay homage to Artemis, the fertility goddess.


The city of Ephesus was geographical, economically, politically and culturally significant. It was the capital of Hellenic Greece, one of the 12 cities of Ionia during the Classical Greek period, and the capital of the Roman Empire’s province of Asia. Today, to Christians, it is a place of pilgrimage.   It is said that the city took 120 years to build. On the day in 356 BC that the Temple of Artemis, which was located within the boundaries of the city, was set alight by a Greek, Alexander the Great was born.  


The ancient city of Ephesus was built in four separate main areas: the Ayasuluk Hill, Artemision, Ephesus and Selçuk. Within the boundaries of the city are extremely valuable buildings, monuments and artefacts including the Temple of Artemis, the Celcus Library, House of the Virgin Mary, the Cave of the Seven Sleepers, the İsa Bey Mosque, the Prytaneion (Municipal Palace), Domitianus Square, St. John’s Castle, the Temple of Hadrian, and the Basilica of St. John. The ruins of the city’s famous ancient theatre, which could accommodate 24,000 people with its three-storey spectator stand, and which once played host to sporting competitions, gladiator battles and art performances, is popular among tourists. Terraced houses built on the hills are thought to have been inhabited by the city’s rich.   

Ephesus site from Cesme in Turkey


Depending on what time of year you visit, going earlier in the day is ideal, especially during the hotter months. With history around every corner you will want to allow yourself at least two hours to cover the whole of the ancient grounds. You will be doing plenty of walking as this entire archaeological site is done by foot, so wear comfortable shoes and make sure to take plenty of water along.



Ephesus Theatre


The theatre built on the slopes of Mount Panayir was constructed during the reign of Lysimachos and later it was altered many times. Like all the other ancient theatres, the theatre consisted of three main section: the skene (stage building) , the orchestra ( place of action for the actors) and the cavea (auditorium) where the audience sat. The skene which was approximately 18 meters high, was the most imposing section of the Theatre. The facade of the structure which faced audience was three-tiered and had columns. There were statues in niches behind the columns and niches had either triangular or semi-circular frontals.




The auditorium still used today for seating the public during the performances in the theatre, is arranged in three large semi-circles broken-up by eleven wedges of steps separated by entrance staircases. The original theatre could seat about 24.000; the auditorium originally rose for at least 30 meters over the orchestra and was crowned at the summit by a porticoed structure which had the function of further improving the acoustics in the complex. The theatrical productions in the classical period were performed by male actors who wore masks on their faces. These and other elements related to the social life in Ephesus during its period of greatest splendour have been inferred from the frescoes decorating several walls of the so-called Houses on the slope.


Whether you are a history enthusiast or not, the magnificence of Ephesus will leave you amazed at the sheer brilliance and forward thinking of Roman Times. The work of archaeologists who rediscovered and started excavating the site in the 1860s, this open-air museum now allows tourists from around the world to see what life was like in an ancient Greek city.


Step back in time with a walk down Marble Street and imagine watching great drama unfold at the Great Theatre, which has the capacity to seat 24,000, making the O2 Arena in London look fairly mediocre in comparison. At the end of the street near the theatre entry is the Hellenistic Fountain, small but beautiful, the fountain was built in the 2nd century AD, making it one of the oldest Ephesus structures.


Terrace Houses


The wealth and ingenuity of this Greco-Roman city has to be seen to be believed at the Terrace Houses or ‘houses of the rich’ where each home had heating systems and their own bath. Imagine taking a dip and contemplating life at the Scolasticia Baths, public baths where much socializing and philosophizing took place.




The Terrace Houses complex in Ephesus consists of luxurious residential villas, located on the northern slope of Bülbüldağı Hill, next to Curetes Street and opposite the Temple of Hadrian. So far, two housing complexes - Eastern and Western - have been excavated. They were built according to the Hippodamian plan where the roads transect each other at right angles. The excavation work of the Terrace Houses started in 1960. The restoration of the houses is an ongoing process and every year there is something new to admire there.

In the classical period (from the 6th to the 4th century BC), the area was used as a graveyard. Three terraces were established around 200 BC on the slope of the latter Terrace Houses, by using massive stone walls. On the northernmost terrace, a representative dwelling house was already built in the 1st century BS, whereas on the other ones a handicraft quarter developed. In the course of the erection of the Roman Dwelling Units, the Hellenistic constructions were demolished and leveled.




Several wall paintings of the Terrace Houses feature drawings and graffiti which offer an insight into the everyday life of the inhabitants. The drawings mainly show gladiators, caricatures, and animals. The graffiti include names of persons, poems, and the declarations of love. Especially interesting is a group of 30 lists referring to goods and necessities of everyday life, including their prices (e.g. onions - 3 asses, caraway - 1/2 ass, entrance the thermal baths - 12 asses).


Ephesus Library& Some Other Places




In 92 A.D. , Tiberius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus was a consul in Rome, and was in charge of all public buildings. Between either 105-106 or 106-107 A.D. he was the proconsul (governor) of the Asian province, the capital of which was Ephesus, when he died in 114 A.D. at the age of seventy his son Tiberius Julius Aquila, built the library as a heroon (mausoleum) for his father. It is assumed that the construction of the library was completed in 117.




The building is made of very good marble and decorated with figures of Eros, Nike, rosettes and garlands in relief . The building reflects the characteristics of the age of Emperor Hadrian. The facade is two-storeyed. On the lower storey, the columns with Corinthian capitals are placed on a 21 meters long podium reached by nine steps. The columns are arranged in pairs and between them there are three doors with richly decorated frames. The door in the middle is wider and taller than the other two.


Statues seen in the niches between the doors, are copies of the originals which were taken to Vienna during the years when the library was being excavated. As the inscriptions on the bases indicate, the statues symbolized the WISDOM (SOPHIA), KNOWLEDGE (EPISTEME), INTELLIGENCE (ENNOIA) and VIRTUE (ARETE) of Celsus.




The interior of the library measures 10,92 by 16,72 meters and is covered with decorative marble. The section of the western wall above the tomb of Celsus is apsidal. It is agreed that the statue discovered during the excavations either to Celsus or to his son and it must have been located in this semi-circular niche. It is now exhibited in Istanbul Archaeological Museum. On the side walls, there are rows of niches where the scrolls were kept. The same type of niches is seen the upper sections of the walls too. The remains indicate that the interior of the library was not two-storeyed and that there was a balcony with railing in front of the niches, located where the second storey should have been.


In 262, during the Gothic attacks, the interior of the library was burnt completely but the facade was not affected much.




In the immediate vicinity of this peculiar structure has been set up a triangular-shaped architectural element coming from the Door of Heracles which rises at the start of Kuretes Street. The sculptural figuration which is prominent there represents Winged Nike, the Goddess of Victory, while she holds a plaited crown in her left hand.


Temple of Hadrian


This is the one of the most attractive edifices on the Curetes Street, and it must have been built at the latest by the year 138. The temple is consist of a monumental pronaos (porch in front of cella) and a small, bare cella (main chamber). In front of the facade of the pronaos, there are four columns with Corinthian capitals supporting a triangular pediment. Above the two columns in the middle, there is an arch which curves down from the pediment, and the bust of Tyche, the goddess of the city, which adorns the center of the arch.






Latrina Ephesus


The latrina built in the first century A.D. are the public toilets of Ephesus. The toilets were ranged side by side with no partition between them. In the middle was a square pool. The floor was paved with mosaics.


Marble Street


This street, which practically constitutes the entrance to the theatre for anyone coming from the Library of Celsus, goes along the western slopes of Mount Panayir, in a zone of considerable architectural interest. Its origins date from the 1st century A.D. but a rebuilding which took place in the 5th century is definite, when a certain Eutropius provided for its paving, using uneven marble blocks which won for it its name. This street served the carriage traffic: the deep grooves of the wheels are still visible in the parts that were subject to restoration during the High Medieval period.


Marble Street - Ancient City of Ephesus


On the sides of the street are visible the ruins of a Roman columned portico and a podium on which a covered stoa stood, built during the reign of Nero and used mostly for Pedestrian traffic.


Harbour Street


Harbour street is 500 meters long and 11 meters wide. On both side of the street there were covered particos. These particos, which were reserved for pedestrians, had the function of protecting them from the bad weather and hosted shops in the inner part. The roadway completely covered with marble, was enriched - towards the middle part - by four columns culminating in Corinthian capitals which upheld statues of the Four Evangelists.


Ephesus Turkey - Arcadian Street


Photos at Arcadian Street Ephesus


The shafts of the columns, still in existence, denote ornamental patterns of clearly Christian imprints. There is reason to believe that this latter decorative elements is the result of an addition made under Justinian ( 6th century), shortly before the inexorable decline of the city.


Ephesus Indoor Museum


The Museum of Ephesus is in the district of Selcuk, and displays works of art found in the excavations in Ephesus since 1964. The museum was enlarged in 1976 with new buildings and thus reached its present state. The reconstruction of the tympanun of the Temple of Augustus (or of Isis), is set out in the Gardens of the Museum with display of the sculptures which used to decorate the frieze, then located near the Fountain of Pollio. The marble sundial with epigraph is from the 3rd century A.D. In this setting are also located interesting sarcophagi of various periods.


The Room of Findings from Houses holds materials come to light during excavations in Ephesian residences. For the most part, these are small statues, furnishings, busts, frescoes and fragments of mosaic. Remarkable are the frescoes depicting the philosopher Socrates (2nd century).


The Room of Findings from Fountains is almost entirely dedicated to the sculptural fittings and ornamentations which decorated the city's fountains. Among the outstanding elements in this room we can recall several sculptures discovered near the Pollio Fountain, namely; the marble depicting the Warrior's Rest (2nd century) and head of Zeus. In the Room of Funeral Findings are set out the contents of tombs discovered during archaeological excavations. In the Room of the Ephesian Artemis are kept the most illustrious representations of the goddess and findings brought to light in the Artemision and near the Altar of Artemis. The so-called Great Artemis is a marble of the 1st century A.D. , upholding two lions on her shoulders and bearing a large quantity of sculptural ornaments.


A Pilgrimage Place for Christian: House of the Virgin Mary in Ephesus


For a spiritual encounter like no other, visit the Church of the Virgin Mary, where it is said Mary lived her last days. Declared by Pope John-Paul II as a pilgrimage place for Catholics in the 1980s, it is another excellent example of beautiful Roman architecture. It’s amazing to think that what you see at Ephesus is just a small glimpse into an ancient world, as there is said to be around 80% of this city, still to be uncovered.


Ephesus has had a long tradition of being a centre of religious pilgrimage. The earliest pilgrims arrived to worship the Anatolian goddess known as Kybele. Later, this deity merged with the Greek goddess Artemis and was venerated at the great Artemision, attracting the pilgrims from all over the Mediterranean region. These ancient cults of female deities were later echoed in the worship of St. Mary, mother of Jesus, that supposedly spent the last years of her life in Ephesus. According to this tradition, Mary arrived at Ephesus together with St. John and lived there until her Assumption (according to the Catholic doctrine) or Dormition (according to the Orthodox beliefs). The House of the Virgin Mary (Meryem Ana Evi in Turkish) which can be still visited today, is a place where, according to the beliefs of many people, Mary, the mother of Jesus, spent the last years of her life. However, similarly to the history of St. John, there are many questions and uncertainties regarding this location.

House of the Virgin Mary in Ephesus

House of Virgin Mary is located on the top of the "Bulbul" mountain 9 km ahead of Ephesus, the shrine of Virgin Mary enjoys a marvelous atmosphere hidden in the green. It is the place where Mary may have spent her last days. Indeed, she may have come in the area together with Saint John, who spent several years in the area to spread Christianity. Mary preferred this remote place rather than living in crowded place.


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The house of Virgin Mary is a typical Roman architectural example, entirely made of stones. In the 4th century AD, a church, combining her house and grave, has been built. The original two-stored house, which consisted of an anteroom (where today candles are proposed), bedroom and praying room (Christian church area) and a room with fireplace (chapel for Muslims). A front kitchen fell into ruins and has been restored in 1940's. Today, only the central part and a room on the right of the altar are open to visitors. From there one can understand that this building looks more like a church than a house. Another interesting place is the "Water of Mary", a source to be found at the exit of the church area and where a rather salt water, with curative properties, can be drunk by all.


Paul VI was the first pope to visit this place in the 1960's. Later, in the 1980's, during his visit, Pope John-Paul II declared the Shrine of Virgin Mary has a pilgrimage place for Christians. It is also visited by Muslims who recognize Mary as the mother of one of their prophets. Every year, on August 15th a ceremony is organized to commemorate Mary's Assumption.


Visiting the House of the Virgin Mary in Ephesus Turkey



Sirince Village


It is referred in ancient sources as the “Ephesus on the Mountain” suggests long established settlement. Sirince is a pretty old Orthodox village in Selcuk, 12 km away from Ephesus, which was called Cirkince meaning ‘’ugly’’. Sirince village was built by the Greeks around 800 years ago and since the population exchange in 1924 has since been inhabited by Muslims from Salonica. Indeed its habitants gave this name on purpose as they did not want to be bothered by foreigners nor to share the beauty of their village. After years, visitors understand that the village is not ugly at all and the village’s name was changed to Sirince meaning “Pleasant” in 1926 by the governor of Izmir Province.

Şirince gezi rehberi, Şirince hakkında bilgiler

As the village is located on the top of a mountain, perfect synthesis of Turk-Greek culture as of the 1920’s; after the Independence War, people exchange between Greek and Turks has occurred and all those typical Greek houses, though they kept their original outside characteristics, have received the local layout inside. The muslim Turks who moved Sirince from Greek in 1924 re-started wine and olive oil-making.


Şirince gezi notları, Şirince sokakları


The oldest building in Sirince is from the Hellenistic period, initially built as a tower when Ephesus was established. All the narrow streets of Sirince belong to the women, selling handcrafts of all kinds, olive oil. Another attraction of the village is its wine: try its taste in small cafésor in the former municipal school restorated.


How to get to Ephesus? 


If you are thinking about planning a beach resort holiday on the Turkish west coast, the town of Cesme on the peninsula of Turkey is an excellent place to base yourself. Locally, there are golden beaches, the historic Cesme Castle, the marina and vibrant market streets to explore. To get a real insight into the past and see how people lived thousands of years ago, a trip to the ancient Greek city of Ephesus should be at the top of your list. Organised tours run daily from Cesme to the Ephesus ruins so you can experience a fascinating taste of history. 

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