Ephesus in July is damn hot … still awesome

Ephesus in July? After doing all the research on Ephesus, especially with my 10 steps for DIY visit to Ephesus – there is still nothing that will really prepare you for the heat that will hit you once you get there.

As for getting to the site from your cruise ship (if you’re on a day trip excursion), by walking in either direction from the cruise ship terminal … about 200 meters, you’ll see tons of taxis looking for business. I would offer them 40$USD to get you to Ephesus and it doesn’t matter whether you’re 2, 3 or 4 people in your party .. the price will be the same to get you there and for them to wait for you for three hours. Be firm and negotiate wisely … you’ll get what you want.

Once you get to the top of the site, don’t bother to stop and admire the genuine fake watches … you can find much better fakes in town or around Turkey. You will find that there are definitely some great “genuine fakes” around … of course, your mileage will vary according to your bargaining skills.

Note : All prices in Turkey will vary according to your bargaining skills.

As mentioned before, if you’re going to Ephesus, do not let the taxi driver take you to the bottom of the site, you will experience pains equal to being in the 7th level of Hell.

Going back to expectations … as to how long does it take to see Ephesus?

Do your research!! Ephesus in July can take from 45 mins to the entire day.

  • Get there first thing in the morning to avoid the cruise crowds
  • If you start at the top gate and arrange to be picked at the bottom, walking down slowly will take about an hour, if you don’t stop off at anything … which is completely NOT recommended. Here is the list of attractions to follow.
    1. Visiting the Terrace Houses (strongly recommended) will take another 20 minutes.
    2. Celsus’s Library is one of the most brilliant and best preserved buildings of Ephesus (10 mins)
    3. The Great Theatre of Ephesus (20-30 mins)
    4. Odeon (10-15 mins)
    5. The Baths of Scholastic (10 mins)
    6. The Fountain of Trajan (5 mins)
    7. The Temple of Hadrian (10 mins)
    8. Walk down the Arcadian Way, where Mark Anthony and Cleopatra once rode in procession.
    9. Hence you should realistically budget about 3 hours for your time there

The great thing about doing Ephesus early in the morning, is that you can leave the boat immediately as it boards … the bad thing about doing Ephesus on a cruise is that you’re going to have to battle the other 5 million tourists who also have it on their lists, as well as all those tour groups of people who are all paying $120USD or more per person for a shitty guided tour. Also when in the Middle East you have to get up early to avoid the midday sun in the summer. Remember I mentioned that it’s kinda hot  … keep this in mind. At 9 in the morning, when we got to Ephesus at it was already starting to warm up nicely – over 35c in the shade – not that there is that much shade inside the gates to Ephesus.

One thing to know … you’ll always be faced with the same turnstile system to any of the main tourist attractions in Turkey … it’s all run by the government, which can be a good and bad thing … depending on your perspective.

Once you’re past the gates, you’ll have the opportunity to wander around by yourself or you can find a guide outside the site. I highly recommend getting a guide … for the following reasons

  • You spent a lot of money/resources getting here … why cheap out on the crowning part of your experience – which is the knowledge
  • What it actually costs will be a mere pittance compared to what you will get out of it
  • Getting a guide for your own private tour, is significantly cheaper than being on an organized tour
  • You get to do and explore what you want
  • Guide will act as your own personal photographers for your pictures
  • The ruins really come to life with the help of a guide … otherwise it will feel like a pile of rocks

Here is our guide explaining the layout of the site … if you want his name – feel free to message me (The price for a great guide will range from $30-$50 USD … it’s worth it)

For instance there are signs carved into rocks all over the city like this one.

If you are not with a guide, you could be mistaken in thinking that these were just random symbols or graffiti that someone carved them for no reason. With a guide you will learn that they were actually secret signs that the Christians made, to direct worshipers to the other meetings and that these represent the Greek letters for fish, which also stood for Jesus Christ : Son of God. Our guide showed us how the early Christians had taken those Greek letters, laid them on top of each other and created a secret symbol that resembled a wheel with spokes. This symbol was carved into some of the marble stones and helped to identify the path to safe homes for Christians. Pretty interesting stuff, eh?

Another great story involves a simple footprint along the marble road after the Library of Celsus. Don’t worry about missing it, everyone stops here and it is a rather well known story in Ephesus. These drawings/carvings are believed to be an advertisement of the Brothel – as the story goes, it’s supposed to be the first advertisement in history.

There is a footprint on the advertisement, one finger showing the library, and other showing the brothel. The known explanation of this sign is that the footprint shows that one should turn at that point; the woman’s head symbolizes the women waiting in the Brothel and the heart shows that the women are eager for love. The busts and statues of the important people were erected along the road, and the letters from emperors were carved into the marble blocks to let people read. There is another story that says that if your foot does not fit or isn’t larger than the footprint on the marble then you are too young to visit the brothel

There are a million pictures online so I’m not going to post a ton more but rather let you see some of the great vantage shots you can get of the Library of Celsus, which is undoubtedly the highlight of the entire site.

As for the “Terrace Houses”, not only do you get to wander through the ruins from antiquity and the terrace houses with their amazing mosaic floors, you really get a sense of the architecture and with a bit of imagination you could see how people lived in those days. I would definitely do everything in Ephesus and go back to the Terrace Houses at the end of your visit. It will give you a chance to escape the crowds that build up at the Library of Celsus and you’ll also get a respite from the sun … but not the heat, since the Terrace Houses are inside a mini “glasshouse” that protects the mosaics from the elements – which is good, but then you’ll also get cooked in the heat.

One has to consider that in the Terrace Houses was where the wealthy Romans would’ve lived within the city and that Ephesus was the second largest city in the Roman Empire, behind Rome, with a population of 250,000 – so there must have been quite the bevy of slaves and money in this part of the hood!

As for restoration of the floors, you can imagine that there would be tremendous work required due to the amount of time that has passed.  As the houses were built in the 1st century BC, over time there has been destruction through earthquakes, fires and the effect of time, yet it’s amazing what the archaeologists with the complement of artists and engineers are accomplishing

The tables set up at the beginning reminded me of doing those large puzzles, except that in this case, there is no box to follow. I find it amazing that they have to work with 1000’s of pieces to come up with just a couple walls of marble!

If you’re looking for a couple videos of Ephesus in July … feel free to hit up my youtube channel – here is a sample video

About Rishiray

Rishi Sankar is a Cloud HRMS Project Manager/ Solution Architect. Over the past 15+ years, he has managed to combine his overwhelming wanderlust with a desire to stay employed, resulting in continuing stints with 3 major consulting firms (IBM, Deloitte, Accenture). He documents his adventures around the world on "Ah Trini Travelogue" with pictures and stories from the road/tuk-tuk/camel/rickshaw. You can follow him on Twitter at @rishiray and on Facebook at "Ah Trini Travelogue . He doesn't like Chicken Curry but loves Curry Chicken and is always trying to find the perfect Trinidadian roti on the road. He also doesn't like cheese and kittens ... and definitely not together. E-mail from his blog is appreciated like a 35 yr old Balvenie at rishi@rishiray.com

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