The Wandering Continues...

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Ephesus: The First and Greatest Metropolis of Asia

Bearing in mind a hint from Lonely Planet that Troy is dull without Brad Pitt running around it, we have decided to make a day tour to Ephesus instead. The journey began with a 6 am flight from Istanbul to Izmir and ended with a 9 pm flight back to Istanbul and with Jorge lost his fancy-and-he-can't-buy-it-again-because-they-don't-deliver-to-Germany-London-Fog-umbrella in Ephesus; 'A tribute to the city' I'd said.

Ephesus was one of a city of Ionian Greeks and a busy provincial capital during Roman times. The city was generally renowned for ist wealth and beauty due its direct access to Aegean Sea. The population of Ephesus has been estimated to be in the range of 400,000 to 500,000 inhabitants in the year 100 AD, making the largest city in roman Asia and one of the largest cities of the day. St. Paul and John preeched in this city and the Virgin Mary is said to have spent her twilight years here until she died.

The city was abandoned in the 6th century AD when the harbor completely filled in with river silt, removing its access to the Aegean Sea.

The Grand Theater
An open air theater that capables to host 25,000 people. It was used initially for drama, but during later Roman times gladiatorial combats were also held on its stage. It is still used to host lots of music concert today. Sting, Elton John and Diana Ross are among those famous musicians who have held their concerts in Ephesus' theater.

The Celsus Library
It has been reconstructed from all original pieces. The building was designed with only front windows and faced to the east to make use of the morning lights and to preserve the books. An underground tunnel leads from the library to a nearby building believed to have been a brothel. A lame 'I-am-going-to-study-but-I-go-to-a-brothel-instead' excuse that those ancient guys told their moms/wives.

The public toilet
Disregard if you are a General of the Army or just a normal peasant, you both will ended up meeting in the public toilets! Here is where the men of Ephesus met daily and spent hours chatting with each other. Recycling water from the bath runs under the seats.

The house of the Virgin Mary
It is about 7 km from Ephesus. It is said by the Roman Catholic Church to have been the last home of the Virgin Mary. The house is reconstructed from the original but the floor were still from 100 AD.

The Temple of Artemis
It's believed to be the largest building in the ancient world and one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Unfortunately, it is represented today by only one inconspicuous column as most of the artwork from the temple currently resides in the British Museum.


Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Istanbul: Where East meets West

A perfect timing to go to Istanbul. Spring has just started there; the weather was sunny and warm and the tulips have started to bloom. Never thought that I'd see so many tulips in Istanbul as in Netherlands but I guess the city does full of surprises.

Originally named as Byzantium when it was first founded in 6 BC by a Megarian colonist named Byzas, refounded in 330 AD as Constantinople and conquered in 1453 by the Ottomans, Istanbul remains as Turkey's largest and busiest city until today. Istanbul is divided from north to south by the Bosphorus strait into European and Asian sides; granting Istanbul the credit of being the only city in the world that is located in two continents. The city itself preserved both its European and Asian inheritance, the best example can be seen from the grand Aya Sofya; a building resembles histories and culture from both sides.

Photos Explanations:

  1. Aya Sofya - Church of the Holy Wisdom
    The grand Aya Sofya was built in 532 AD by Emperor Justinian and was the largest place of worship in Christiandom before St.Peter's in Rome. When the Ottoman Army under Mehmet the Conqueror conquered Constantinople in 1453, it was turned into a mosque and later converted into a museum until today.
  2. Interiors of Aya Sofya
    The remains of Justinian's mosaics on the walls and the ceilings of Aya Sofya
  3. The Blue Mosque - Sultanahmet Camii
    The name is taken from the beautiful blue Iznik tiles in shape of floral pattern that decorate the inside of the mosque. The building was completed in 1617 by Sultan Ahmet as his answer to Aya Sofya's.
  4. Interiors of The Blue Mosque
    Notice the huge suspended chandeliers that hold tiny votive candles?
  5. Yerebatan Sarnici - the Palace Cistern
    An underground water storage tank that was built during the reign of Emperor Justinianus in the 6 AD. Due to its nice atmospher and great acoustics, it is still used to host many classical music concert.
  6. Fishing in the Bosphorus
    Many of the locals are fishing on the bridge that connects Europe and Asia
  7. Topkapi Sarayi
    Residencial palace of the Sultans for almost 3 centuries before they moved to an-European-Style-Palace Dolmabahce Sarayi.
  8. Dolmabahce Sarayi
    The new palace built on the Bosphorus, designed to deny the decline of the Ottoman Empire.
  9. Kapali Carsi - Covered Bazaar
    It was built in 1464 by order of Mehmed II and it is the biggest covered market in the entire world with literally thousands of shops selling everything from fake brand t-shirt to expensive jewelries. Being an Indonesian, I had to say that it is like shopping in Mangga Dua with the locals trying to drag the tourists into buying goods from their shops.
  10. Kiz Kulesi - Maiden's Tower
    The tower appeared in the James Bond movie 'The World is not Enough'
  11. a 400,000 TRY Toilet
    Eventhough the Turks have introduced a new Turkish Lira, a lot of them are still using the old currency. Cost of going to the toilet in Sultanahmet is 400,000 Old Turkish Lira; a bit of a shock for a Euro-currency-person as you might have automatically thought 400,000 Euro!!!
  12. The busy Sultanahmet area of Istanbul


Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Worldwander Part II

As I am apparently running out of disk space in my friendster's blog, I have decided to continue my blog in another hosting.

Link to my previous blog is