Kuşadası Turkey, Kusadasi Hotel and Property
About 20km from Selçuk is Kuşadası (koo-SHAH-dah-suh), a seaside resort town with a resident population of 50,000. Like Marmaris it's swollen out of all recognition throughout the summer with package holidaymakers from Europe.
Many cruise ships on the Aegean Islands circuit stop at Kuşadası so passengers can tour Ephesus and haggle for trinkets in the bazaar. The town centre is all shops and işportacılar (itinerant pedlars and touts ready to sell you anything and everything). The pleasant, easy-going atmosphere which made it popular in the 1970s is long gone, even though a few businesses stili hang on to serve the farmers, beekeepers and fishermen who make up an ever-dwindling portion of the population.
Kuşadası gets its name (Bird Island) from a small island now connected to the main-land by a causeway, called Güvercinada, or Güvercin Adası (Pigeon Island). it's recognizable by the small stone fort which is its most prominent feature.
Like Selçuk, Kuşadası makes a good base for excursions to the ancient cities of Ephesus, Priene, Miletus, and Didyma, to Altınkum Beach and Dilek National Park, and even inland to Afrodisias and Pamukkale.
The natural port here may have been in use several centuries BC, and was probably known to the Byzantines, but modern Kuşadası's history begins in medieval times when Venetian and Genoese traders came here, calling it Scala Nuova. Two centuries after the Ottoman conquest in 1413, Öküz Mehmet Paşa, vizier and sometime grand vizier to sultans Ahmet I and Osman II, ordered the building of the Kaleiçi mosque and hamam, the city walls, and the caravan-serai in order to improve the city's prospects as a trading port with Europe and Africa.
Useful for exporting agricultural goods, Kuşadası was also an important defensive port along the Ottoman Aegean coast. in 1834 the Güvercinada fortress was restored and improved. Kuşadası maintained its modest trade, farming and fıshing economy and its quiet character until the tourism boom of the late 1980s turned it into the brash resort you see today.
Kuşadası's central landmark is the Öküz Mehmet Paşa Kervansarayı, an Ottoman caravanserai which is now a hotel. it's 100 m inland from the cruise-ship docks, at the intersection of the waterfront boulevard, Atatürk Bulvarı, and the togn's main street, the pedestrianised Barbaros Hayrettin Caddesi which cuts inland from the caravanserai. Just beyond the PTT on the northern side of Barbaros Hayrettin Caddesi, a passage leads to the Öküz Mehmet Paşa Camii and the Kaleiçi Hamamı. Further along at the stone tower, Barbaros Hayrettin Caddesi crosses Sağlık Caddesi and becomes Kahramanlar Caddesi, lined with shops and restaurants. Turn left onto Sağlık Caddesi to explore Kuşadası's market and the old Kaleiçi neighbourhood of narrow streets packed with restaurants and bars. Turn right off Barbaros Hayrettin Caddesi to find raucous Barlar Sokak (Bars Street), and the hillside pensions overlooking the harbour.
The Hacı Hatice Hanım Camii (Hanım Camii for short) about 100m along Kahramanlar Caddesi makes a convenient landmark. The otogar and dolmuş station is more than 1 km east of the caravanserai on the bypass road.
Information in Kusadasi
The Tourism Information Office (256-614 1103, fax 614 6295), on İskele Meydanı, is right near the wharf where the cruise ships dock, located about 100 m west of the caravanserai. This office is usually open from 8 am to noon and from 1.30 to 5.30 pm but keeps longer hours in summer.
Banks with ATMs are on Barbaros Hayrettin Caddesi (Akbank, Garanti, Yapı Kredi and Ziraat). The PTT on Barbaros Hayrettin Caddesi near the caravanserai changes money as well.
The postal code is 09400
Up in the hills 9km east of Selçuk, amid grapevines, peach and apple orchards, sits Şirince (population 800). The old-fashioned stone-and-stucco houses have red-tile roofs, and the villagers, who were moved here from Salonica and its vicinity during the exchange of populations in 1924, are ardent fruit farmers who also make interesting grape and apple wines. Locals regale you with the story that in Ottoman times, when it was populated mostly by Greeks, the village was called Çirkince ('ugliness'), but that it was changed to Şirince ('pleasant-ness') shortly after they arrived. A century ago it was also much larger and more prosperous - the economic focus for seven monasteries in the hills around.
Stroll the winding cobbled streets, peek at the Byzantine churches and monasteries, walk in the hills, and haggle with local women for handmade lace. If someone invites you to inspect her 'antique house', you can be sure she'll have lace for sale. Mostly the invitations are genuine, although one reader complained of being charged an outrageous amount for a 'welcoming' glass of tea.
Places to Stay & Eat
Of the several pensions, the welcoming Esra (232-898 3140) has fıve simple, waterless rooms; the best of them upstairs. Beds costs US$10 per person, with another US$5 for breakfast. Others are nameless, but similar to Mrs Naciye Çatal's Şirin Pansiyon (232-898 3167), offering clean beds in waterless rooms for US$15 a double.
Fancier places in restored village houses include the German-run Erdem Pansion (232-898 3430; in İzmir 481 4928) and the picturesque Hotel Şirince Evleri (fax 232-898 3099 in İzmir), with a lovely traditional sitting room and nicely decorated rooms for US$60 a single/double. The Erdem was under renovation at the time of writing.
The minibus from Selçuk drops you at the centre of the village near the restaurants. Köy Restaurant and Sultan Han Cafe have the best shade and views, and specialise in village dishes like mantı (Turkish ravioli), gözleme (thin pastry folded over a filling), yayık ayran (churned yoğurt and spring water) and ev şarabı (homemade wine).
Getting There & Away
From 8 am to 7 pm hourly minibuses connect Selçuk and Şirince (US$1) in summer.
Walking Tour Ephesus
As you walk into the site from Dr Sabri Yayla Bulvarı, a road to the left is marked for the Grotto of the Seven Sleepers, on the north-eastern side of Panayır Dağı about 1 km away.
Grotto of the Seven Sleepers
According to legend, seven persecuted Christian youths fled from Ephesus in the 3rd century AD and took refuge in this cave. Agents of the Emperor Decius, a terror to Christians, found the cave and sealed it. Two centuries later an earthquake broke down the wall, awakening others describe as a private house. Either way, its main hall contains a rich mosaic of the Four Seasons.
The Sacred Way ends at the Embolos, or 'central Ephesus', with the Library of Celsus and the monumental Gate of Augustus to the right (west), and Curetes Way heading east up the slope.
As you head up Curetes Way, a passage on the left (north) leads to the public
toilets. These posh premises were for men only; the women's were elsewhere. The famous figüre of Priapus (now in the Ephesus Museum in Selçuk) with the penis of most men's dreams was found in the nearby well, right next to the presumed brothel.
You can't miss the impressive Corinthian-style Temple of Hadrian, on the left, with beautiful friezes in the porch and a head of Medusa to keep out evil spirits. it was dedicated to Hadrian, Artemis and the people of Ephesus in 118 AD, but greatly reconstructed in the 5th century. Across the street is a row of 10 shops from the same period, fronted by an elaborate 5th century mosaic.
On the right side of Curetes Way across from the Temple of Hadrian, excavation and restoration work is stili in progress on the Yamaç Evleri (terrace houses). These are usually closed to visitors although some of the finds can be seen in Ephesus Museum. Should you get the opportunity, be sure to see the rare glass mosaic in a niche off the atrium of one of the houses.
Further along Curetes Way, on the left, is the Fountain of Trajan. A huge statue of the emperor (98-117) used to tower above the pool; only one foot now remains.
Curetes Way ends at the two-storey Gate of Hercules, constructed in the 4th century AD, with reliefs of Hercules on both main pillars.
The road comes over a low rise and descends to the car park, where there are teahouses, restaurants, souvenir shops, a PTT and banks. To the right (west) of the road are the ruins of the Church of the Virgin Mary, also called the Double Church. The original building was a museum - a Hall of the Muses - a place for lectures, teaching and educated discussions and debates. Destroyed by fire, it was rebuilt in the 4th century AD as a church, later to become the site of the third Ecumenical Council (431 AD) which condemned the Nestorian heresy. Over the centuries several other churches were built here, somewhat obscuring the original layout.
Roman Civilization and Architecture
Roman Ephesus boasted that it was the 'first and greatest metropolis of Asia', with a population nearing 250,000. it became the Roman capital of Asia Minor, honoured and beautified by succeeding emperors. With its brisk sea traffic, rich commerce and right of sanctuary in the Temple of Artemis, it drew many immigrants of various nations and creeds. it's said that St John came here with the Virgin Mary, followed by St Paul, whose Letter to the Ephesians was written to people he had known during his three-year stay.
its prosperity from commerce and temple pilgrimage was unrivalled, but the Cayster continued to bring silt down into the harbour. Despite great works by Attalus II of Pergamum, who rebuilt the harbour, and Nero's proconsul, who dredged it, the silting continued. Emperor Hadrian had the Cayster diverted, but the harbour continued to silt up, ultimately pushing the sea back to Pamucak, 4km to the west. Cut off from its commerce, Ephesus lost its wealth. By the 6th century AD, when the Emperor Justinian was looking for a site for the St John Basilica, he chose Ayasoluk Hill in Selçuk, which became the new city centre.
Demetrius The Silversmith
St Paul iıved at Ephesus for three years, perhaps in the 60s AD. According to the Bible (Acts 1924-41), his mission was so successful that the trade in religious artefacts for the Artemis cult dropped off precipitously.
Hurt by the slump, a silversmith named Demetrius, who made silver Artemis shrines, gathered a group of other artisans who had lost business. At first they grumbled about the effects of Paul's preaching on their incomes, but they soon sought a higher rationale and blamed Paul's preaching for a loss of respect for the goddess herself.
Rumours spread throughout the city that someone was being disrespectful of Artemis. People flooded into the Great Theatre, svveeping along several of Paul's Christian travelling companions. Paul, set on entering the theatre (perhaps to give the sermon of his life to a packed house), was dissuaded from doing so by his disciples.
Unclear on the cause of the uproar, the mob in the theatre shouted 'Great is Artemis of the Ephesians' for an hour before the secretary of the city council calmed them down enough to speak. The Christians, having broken no law, were released and the uproar subsided, but Paul left Ephesus shortly thereafter for Macedonia.
Croesus & The Persians
Ephesus prospered so much that it aroused the envy of King Croesus of Lydia, who attacked it around 600 BC. The Ephesians, who neglected to build defensive walls, stretched a rope from the temple of Artemis to the town, a distance of 1200m, hoping thus to place themselves under the protection of the goddess. Croesus responded to this quaint defensive measure by giving some of his famous wealth for the completion of the temple, which was still under construction. But he destroyed the city of Ephesus and relocated its citizens inland to the southern side of the temple, where they rebuilt and lived through classical times.
Neglecting again (or perhaps forbidden) to build walls, the Ephesians were tributaries of Croesus Lydia and, later, of the Persians. They then joined the Athenian confederacy, but later fell back under Persian control.
Legend has it that the Virgin Mary, accompanied by St John, came to Ephesus at the end of her life, circa 37-45 AD. Re-naissance church historians mentioned the trip, and it is said that local Christians ven-erated a small house near Ephesus as Mary's.
İn the 19th century a German woman named Catherine Emmerich (1774-1824) had visions of Mary and of her surroundings at Ephesus. When Lazarist clergy from İzmir followed Emmerich's detailed descriptions, they discovered the foundations of an old house in the hills near Ephesus; a tomb, also described by Emmerich, was not found.
İn 1967 Pope Paul VI visited the site, where a chapel now stands, and confirmed the authenticity of the legend. A small traditional service, celebrated by Orthodox and Muslim clergy on 15 August each year in honour of Mary's Assumption into heaven, is now the major event here. To Muslims, Mary is Meryemana, Mother Mary, who bore Isa Peygamber, the Prophet Jesus.
The site is now a Selçuk municipal park; there is no regular dolmuş service, so you'll have to hitch, rent a taxi or take a tour. The park is 7km from Ephesus' Lower (northern) Gate, or 5.5 km from the Upper (southem) Gate, and 9km from Selçuk, up steep grades. The views of Ephesus, Selçuk, Ayasoluk Hill, and the surrounding countryside are wonderful along the way
Along the approach to the house are signboards explaining its significance in various languages. The house is usually busy with pilgrims, the devout and the curious. A small restaurant and snack stand provide meals at relatively moderate prices. If you are travelling on a tight budget, bring along some picnic supplies and enjoy lunch on your own in the shady park.