Arriving at Kusadasi, Turkey, reputed to be the most attractive city in the Aegean (it was!), we caught a bus for our trip about 30 miles to visit the Ephesus of the Bible.
The apostle Paul spent more time here than any other place he visited on any of his missionary journeys, so I was excited that I could see it. It was here he faced the riot of the silversmith, led by Demetius, because the sale of the statues of Diana (goddess of love) had taken a down turn due to his preaching.
This was also the town where the young evangelist Timothy served as pastor and according to tradition was the home of the Apostle John and Mary the mother of Jesus in their later years.
The city was founded by the Greeks nearly three thousand years ago and has some of the most impressive archaeological and historical sites in the world. However, this city, like others in the Middle East has been burned, conquered and destroyed. Afterwards it became somewhat Romanized so most of the present ruins are Roman ruins. Ephesus is the best-preserved classical city on the Mediterranean, and perhaps the best place in the world to get the feeling for what life was like in Roman times. As a strategic coastal gateway to the Eastern World, this Ionian refuge grew to be the second largest city in the Roman Empire; the site of a Christian shrine, and at the top of the hill still stands the Temple of Artemis, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. During its powerful era even Cleopatra walked its streets.
As I walked the hand hewn stone streets, viewing the carved pillars that lay everywhere, I could image myself walking with Paul or Timothy stopping to go into the Library of Celsus, which in its restoration remains a fascination sight. It was hard for me to remember that most of this preceded the birth of Christ by a thousand years.
I was sincerely impressed with the quality of life the inhabitants must have enjoyed. Long before America this community had running water carried by aqueducts, some of which still remain, that gave them even flush toilets in both the community places or in their homes. Image this over 3000 years ago!
The city had a most inspiring Great Theater located toward the Church of the Virgin Mary that was created on the foundation of the house where John, the disciple of Christ,
and Mary, the mother of Christ, lived in their final years. Not far away was built the Basilica of St. John over the spot where John was supposedly buried on the southern slope of Ayosolug Hill. 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 columns in the courtyard reveal the monograms of Emperor Justinian and his wife Theodora. Constructed in the 5th century AD, the baptistery is north of the nave, with its key hole shape. Rampart walls around the church were constructed for protection from the Arabian attracts in the 7th - 8th centuries AD. The impressive 10th century AD frescoes representing St John, Jesus and a Saint, ornament the chapel. With the invasion of Turks, the chapel was used as a mosque in the 14th century; unfortunately the Basilica of Saint John became unusable due to the serious earthquake in the same century.
This area reveals the greatness of yesteryear, where time brought on destruction and saw buildings perish. One day we can become part of a beautiful city where time is no more and when decay or death is over.
“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” - 1 Corinthians 2:9