KUSADASI AND BEYOND
The early settlements in Kusadasi are by the Lelegians and Carians who moved from the central Anatolia around the year of 3000 BC. They were the establishers of a colony on the skirts of Pilav Mountain in Kusadasi and founded the cities Ania and Melia. Mild climate allowed the inhabitants to grow essential products such as olive, grape and figs for extracting oil or making wine and sweets on the fertile lands around the city.
The city was invaded by Persians around the year of 546 BC. In 200 BC Kusadasi and its environs were dominated by the Roman Empire, and with the division of the Roman Empire, became a state of Byzantine. Kusadasi began to be ruled by the Ottoman Empire after the invasion of Sultan Mehmet Celebi in the year of 1413.
Kusadasi means "Bird Island" and the town take its name from the little island (which name in Turkish means "Pigeon" or "Dove Island") that is in the harbor and is now connected by a causeway to the shore. The little fort on the island was built in 1834 as a military outpost during the Morean rebellion. About the only other old buildings are the Kaleici Mosque, built in 1618 and the Ottoman Caravanserai built by Okuz Mehmet Pasha in 1618. The latter has been restored and is now used (appropriately enough) as a hotel. It is one of the most sophisticated holiday centers; a perfect place for vacation with its sandy beaches and glassy water. The contrast of the lively holiday life with the quietness of ancient ruins creates the special atmosphere of the city. The town is conveniently located to make visits to such famous sites as Ephesus, ancient Pergamum, Hierapolis, and Aphrodisias as well as nearby charming village of Sirince.
Ephesus is the only Greco-Roman site in the world that gives an idea of the grandeur of bygone centuries. The original site of Ancient Ephesus was most likely established on the Aegean coast, on the shores of that sea which today is located 8 km. away from the archaeological excavations. Over the centuries, in fact, the rubble brought onto the plain of the Kucuk Menderes has enlarged the alluvial plain surrounding the archaeological zone, leaving behind in actual fact the shores of the Aegean.
Ephesus is considered one of the greatest outdoor museums of Turkey, in fact perhaps of the world. The links of Ephesus with the Amazons and the myths had survived throughout centuries. So, there was a competition for statue of an Amazon for the Temple of Artemis to be made by the famous sculptors in the 5th century BC. The town of Apasas under the rule of Ahhiyava Kingdom mentioned in the written records of the Hittites of the 14th and 13th centuries BC is Ephesus. The linguists accept that the word Ephesus was derived from Apasas, thus it can be surely said that Apasas was founded on the Ayasuluk Hill. The findings from this place are exhibited in the Ephesus Museum. After the fall of Troy the Thracians started migrating south where they joined the other Thracian migrants who came from the sea and settled in Western Anatolia, forming colonies. The written Egyptian sources of the 12th century mention the region of Ionia where Ephesus is located is referred to as "Yavan" in the Bible, "Yavnai" in the Assyrian inscriptions and as "Yauna" in the Persian inscriptions.
Ephesus was attacked by the Cimmerians in the 7th century BC but got back onto its feet again soon afterwards. The 6th century BC brought a prosperous period for Ephesus. Later, Ephesus came under the rule of the Lydians and then under the Persians. In 334 BC, Alexander the Great captured Ephesus, which offered no resistance. The death of Alexander brought dark days to Ephesus, which was ruled in 287 BC by Lysimachos. Most of the works of art seen today came into being during this period. Later on Ephesus came under the sovereignty of Rome, and Emperor Augustus declared Ephesus a metropolis. In the year 262 AD Ephesus was attacked and destroyed by the Goths and after this, it never regained its previous importance. On the spread of Christianity, Ephesus becomes another city of the Seven Churches of the Revelation and an ancient largest port with a population over 250.000. St. Paul lived here, and walked through the marble streets.
St. John Basilica – it is believed that the evangelist St. John had spent his last years in the region around Ephesus and buried in the southern slope of Ayosolug Hill. Three hundred years after the death of Saint Paul, a small chapel was constructed over the grave in the 4th century. The church of St John was changed into a marvelous basilica during the region of Emperor Justinian (527 -565 AD). The monumental basilica was in the shape of a cross and was covered with six domes. Its construction, being of stone and brick, is an extremely rare find amongst the architecture of its time. Raised by two steps and covered with marble, the tomb of St John was under the central dome that was once carried by the four columns at the corners.
The House of Virgin Mary – now Chapel. 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.
The Archaeological Museum of Seljuk is one of the best collections of antiquities excavated in Ephesus since 1964 and consists of a large hall, small hall, another big hall and a colonnaded courtyard. A big statue of Artemis from the Roman period, water palace, a niche room containing the Socrates fresco, statuettes from the fountains of Trajan and Pallio, the statue of Dionysus, Triton a relaxing warrior and Zeus are exhibited here.
An important number of the findings revealed by the excavations carried on at southern slopes of Ayasuluk (Selcuk) castle by the Ephesus Museum since 1990 are dated to second millennium B.C.
Şirince is an old Greek village of 600 inhabitants located 8 km. east of the town Seljuk and 30 km. from Kusadasi. Most of the houses in Şirince were built around the 19th century or earlier when Şirince was predominantly a Greek village, today some of them have been restored and turned into pensions or small charming hotels. Şirince is probably most famous for its wine production. You see many wine houses around where you can taste the many sorts of grape and fruit wines they make there.
Ancient Pergamum – founded in the Hellenistic Age. Pergamum or Pergamom was an important ancient Greek city. Ruled by the Attalid dynasty, the city rose to prominence as an administrative center under King Eumenes II of Pergamum, who formed an alliance with the Roman Republic, severing ties with the Greeks.
Pergamum is credited with being the home and namesake of parchment (charta pergamena). Prior to the creation of parchment, manuscripts were transcribed on papyrus, which was produced only in Alexandria. When the Ptolemies of Africa refused to export any more papyrus to Pergamum, King Eumenes II commanded that an alternative source be found. This led to the production of parchment, which is made out of a thin sheet of sheep or goat skin.
It was the most favored of the Seven Churches of Asia Minor. Christianity reached Pergamum very early and its Church was praised for its extraordinary forbearance during times of persecution. It was here that Rome executed the first Christians.
The Acropolis of the Hellenistic city perched 1000 feet above the town. Remains include the Altar of Zeus, palaces, the Temples of Trajan and Dionysus and the world’s steepest amphitheater. The Temple of Zeus was one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. The German engineer, Carl Humann, brought the altar now known as the Altar of Pergamum to Berlin.
The Asclepion is a famed ancient medical center built in honor of Asclepius, the god of healing. It was also the world's first psychiatric hospital. Among the types of therapy practiced here were mud baths, sports, theatre, psychotherapy and use of medicinal waters.
The Temple of Serapis – Red Basilica. This huge brick edifice was built in the 2nd century as a Roman temple to the god Serapis and later converted into a Byzantine church.
Pamukkale is an unusual natural and historical site with the sparkling white castle -like cascades, Pamukkale is one of the most important highlights of Turkey, unique in the world. The site is named in Turkish as "Pamukkale", that means "cotton castle", parallel to the glorious and spectacular view of the site. The dazzling white calcareous castles are formed by limestone-laden thermal springs, creating the unbelievable formation of stalactites, potholes and cataracts.
Waters in the terraces are the sediments of the springs with calcium bicarbonate in 33°C. Waters, containing mainly calcium salts and carbon-dioxide, run off the plateau's by depositing calcium while carbon-dioxide disappearing. The marvelous landscape of Pamukkale has been created by this gradual formation, leaving a cotton-like image.
Hierapolis – Ancient Hierapolis was founded as a healing care centre in 190 BC, famous for amazing hot mineral springs and spas, where Paul introduces Christianity to the local population. Visit the ruins of one of the largest Roman cities in Asia Minor. See the amphitheatre, the city gates, and the columned streets, in an area of over one mile
Aphrodisias is one of the oldest sacred sites in Turkey. Dedicated to the ancient Mother Goddess and then the Greek goddess Aphrodite, it was the site of a magnificent Temple of Aphrodite and the home of a renowned school of marble sculpture. The Temple of Aphrodite later became a Christian basilica through an impressive swapping of columns. Today, the Temple of Aphrodite is well-preserved and partially restored; it is not hard to imagine its ancient splendor. Aphrodisias also offers ruins of a large theater, a stadium and other structures, as well as an on-site museum displaying artifacts.