Kusadasi (Ephesus), Turkey
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Approximately 6½ Hours
"Located within what was once the estuary of the River Kaystros, Ephesus comprises successive Hellenistic and Roman settlements founded on new locations, which followed the coastline as it retreated westward. Excavations have revealed grand monuments of the Roman Imperial period including the Library of Celsus and the Great Theatre. Little remains of the famous Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, which drew pilgrims from all around the Mediterranean. Since the 5th century, the House of the Virgin Mary, a domed cruciform chapel seven kilometers from Ephesus, became a major place of Christian pilgrimage. The Ancient City of Ephesus is an outstanding example of a Roman port city, with sea channel and harbor basin."
Showcasing the religious history of Ancient Turkey, your day will start with a pleasant drive through the countryside to visit the ruins of the city of Ephesus. The site dates predominantly from the later Roman period, include the towering façade of the Celsus Library and Hadrian's Temple. The Sacred Way was one of the main thoroughfares used by the Ancient Romans.
As part of your tour, very special access has been arranged to the Domitian Galleries named after the Emperor Domitian. A crypto-portico, or passageway, located behind a temple was used as a gallery for some of the inscriptions found at Ephesus. More than 150 inscriptions can be viewed here, mostly carved on marble and dating from 750 BC through AD 600. This section of Ephesus is closed to the public but Seabourn has arranged a special visit on your behalf.
You will also visit the Terrace Houses located opposite Hadrian's Temple -- a newly-excavated residential section of Ephesus. The wealthy and important people of Ephesus used these houses, so they are finely decorated with mosaics and frescoes, giving a true impression of the ancient lifestyle. Those on the upper slopes of Bulbul Mountain are reached by steps, and the roof of one house forms the terrace of the one above it.
Continuing from the library to the end of the marble street, you can look up at Ephesus' impressive amphitheatre where St Paul preached to the Ephesians.
Leave the ancient city and drive towards town of Seljuk. Here, you will visit the ruins of the Basilica of St John. The Basilica had a cruciform plan with four domes along its longitudinal axis and a pair flanking the central dome to form the arm of the cross. The tomb of St John was placed under the central dome.
Next, visit Solmissos -- a setting that is a shrine to some and a curiosity to others. It is reputedly the home of Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ. Archaeological evidence shows that the little house you will see here dates from the 6th century AD, but that its foundations are indeed from the 1st century AD. This ties in with the commonly-held belief that Mary moved to Turkey.
Enjoy a delicious lunch of local specialties at a nearby restaurant before returning to Kusadasi to enjoy a optional carpet demonstration and some time for shopping. Explore the town and return to the pier at your own pace.
Please note: Wear comfortable, non-skid walking shoes.