October 30, 2011

Turkey: Selcuk

Continuation from here ... 
Just 20km northeast of Kusadasi, lies a district full of history. Selcuk was once a town in Kusadasi, but it became a district on its own in 1957. Nowadays, it is one of the most visited district in Turkey due to the close proximity to the famous Ephesus. 

Heading to Selcuk from Kusadasi, you will come across Ayasuluk Hill. Here is the site where several thousand years of history have left their trace.

We started with a visit to an old mosque.

Built in 1375, IsaBey Mosque is one of the oldest mosque in Turkey. It was restored in 1934 and now still a working mosque, open to public except during prayer time. 

The construction of this mosque is unique as it contains columns and stones from the ruins of Ephesus and the Temple of Artemis.


Inside the mosque, intricate marble and woodwork are fine examples of craftsmanship of the time. Additionally, there are also a collection of beautiful prayer rugs that cover the vast floor space. 
the minaret
On the same hill, lies another treasure, the Temple of Artemis. It was originally built around 550 BC and dedicated to Artemis, a Greek Goddess. Said to be the largest temple in the world during its glorious days, this temple was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World but sadly today, only a column is left. 

It used to look like this. 

The hill is crowned by a massive Ottoman castle. However, at the time of my visit, excavations were taking place, so the castle was closed to visitors.
Three periods of history in Selcuk: Temple of Artemis (front), IsaBey Mosque (middle), the Ottoman castle (far)
Next, we went to the House of the Virgin Mary, which is up a winding road on a mountain above Ephesus.


This place of pilgrimage visited by thousands of tourists every year, maintains its holiness for the Muslims as well as for the Christian world.

According to the traditions, this is the house that Mary, Mother of Jesus lived in before she died.
The house is very small; there's an altar, with images of Mary and candles. Except for people lining up to pay respect to Mary, there's nothing much to see so, we followed the path out from the back door.
I roamed outside the house, where there is a park and nature preserve.
faucets to get holy water
places to attach prayers 
This reminds me of Japan, where people write a wish and put it on an ema stand.

Finally, we went to visit the main attraction of the town, the Ephesus. But main attraction like that deserves an entry of its own. Wait for it...

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