Posted by: David Stewart | June 11, 2013

Turkey: The PMD Tour plus more

This is one of a series of notes that I took of our Turkey 2013 trip.

Saturday, April 20

Selcuk, Turkey

Olives for sale, Selcuk Market

On this day, we attempted to visit three more ancient sites which are more-or-less in the same area as Ephesus, a so-called “PMD” Tour, nicknamed after the names of the cities. We managed to succeed not only to visit all of these old cities but also to add a couple of additional sites.

We waffled between doing this long day of driving and seeing more “piles of rocks”, or driving early to Kusadasi on the coast and hopping on a ferry to the Greek island of Samos. We finally decided that it would be a little too expensive to do the one day island hop, although this would be a fine option fo a future visit.

But first, we visited the Selcuk market, because Saturday is a market day in town.

Temple of Athena

Temple of Athena

 

Temple of Athena – Before leaving Selcuk, we decided we needed to stop by the site of the ancient Temple of Athena, which had been the pride and joy of the city of Ephesus.

Unfortunately, there is very little remaining of the temple, since it has been submerged in a lake. All that is left is a single column.
Didymus, TurkeyDidymus, TurkeyDidymus, Turkey

Watch where you step at these ancient sites

Didymus: Watch where you step at these ancient sites

Didymus – this is the site of an ancient temple where an oracle once lived. Here the oracle would drink from the sacred spring at the center of the temple complex before declaring their future visions. The temple has a few columns standing, and is fairly well contained. But like most of the ruins we saw in Turkey had not been much reconstructed.

Miletus – An ancient city connected to Didymus by a processional road. This is a vast ruined city which starts with a very impressive theater. The town used to boast three great harbors and was a tremendous power in the region before it was conquered by Persians and Alexander the Great. Then the harbors silted up and the city was abandoned.

The river which silted up was the Meander River. Sounds like it lived up to its name! This is the same fate which caused Ephesus to be abandoned as well, since its famous harbor has been silted up as well. Amazing to think these towns were seaports, since they are many miles from the ocean now.

Miletus, TurkeyMiletus, TurkeyMiletus, Turkey

The ruin of Miletus is spread over a fairly extensive area and includes a large bath house and agora. The bath house has a restored cold pool (frigidarium) and furnace rooms. The site is pretty much submerged now into a swampy glade, dominated by mosquitos and extremely loud frogs.

Priene, TurkeyPriene, TurkeyPriene, Turkey

Priene – Although it was a smaller city and less important than Miletus, there is more of Priene remaining today than Miletus. Partly this is due to its position half way up a cliff face. There is a well-preserved theater with an altar to the god of the theater and reserved seating (thrones). The temple to Apollo had a killer view over the valley and must have been an impressive building in its day. Unfortunately it is mostly just a jumble of column parts with a few reconstructed columns in place for reference.

One of Priene’s claims to fame was that Alexander the Great lived here while he was working on conquering Miletus.

Unlike the other sites today, this one was a bit of a climb in the car and then a hike up to the site itself, but it’s worth the effort.

Sirence

Sirence – When we returned to Selcuk it was about dinner time, so we took some advice from our hotel owner and diverted 7 kilometers to the little town of Sirence. This is a greek-flavored village with charming back streets, pensions, restaurants and a small town square / market. Clearly marketed to tourists, it was still alluring to wander along the cobbled lanes petting the sleepy cats and smelling the fire smoke from the inns. We read that just last December, Sirence got very popular with tourists who came there to escape the 2012 Mayan Apocalypse that didn’t happen, because the town was reportedly a zone of peacefulness. I took a photo of the town with my smart phone and was surprised that Google Goggles automatically matched the photo with an earlier one shot in 2007 by someone else on the internet.

We ate dinner in a family’s small two-table restaurant at the advice of a shopkeeper in town, and then wound our way back to Selcuk. That was in itself an adventure because the road downhill was different than the road uphill, and it looked like we might not be anywhere close to civilization, until we dropped into the upper reaches of Selcuk.

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