It seems a shame to completely bypass the two days we spent in Istanbul before we got on the plane which brought us safely over the Middle East to the fabled summer city where girls and cockatoos equally are screamers, have an eye for glitter and love a drink by the rooftop pool. So here's a sample of Alex's pictures.
|Inside the Rusten Pasha mosque (and below)|
As a postscript, I'm adding one last ruin (of course). We did get away again in the week before we left Marmaris, driving with our Canadian friends Dale and Joanne north to Aphrodisias which in many ways is as impressive a site as Ephesus. It's a bit out of the way though, so we had it mostly to ourselves. You can only dream about a day like that at Ephesus.
Aphrodisias lies in a lush basin at 600 m above sea level. Over it looms a mountain which at this time of year is dusted with snow. The city must have been dazzling in its heyday with its huge stadium (which seated 30,000), temple to Aphrodite, theatres, agoras, baths - all the usual accoutrements of a Greek-inspired city which the Romans then took to another level. Aphrodisias was famous in its time for the quality of its marble and produced a lot of sculpture, much of which is still in situ, or at least, in the museum on the site.
I thought of Aphodisias when we were in the Pergamon museum in Berlin. As well as the Grand Altar of Pergamon, the Germans nabbed a massive gate from the city of Miletus which now has very little to show besides one of antiquity's biggest theatres. The Miletus gate has been rebuilt, just as this monumental gate in Aphrodisais was. But what a difference between the two. The Miletus gate is splendid in every way, but it's like great bear behind bars, much diminished by its captivity.
The Aphrodisais gate stands in a green field, and in the late afternoon light, against a bright blue and steel-grey sky, its intricately-sculpted columns and friezes turned a luminous buttery yellow. The archeological model of Aphrodisais suggests that this gate, called the tetrapylon, was just a small thing compared to the Temple of Aphrodite to which it provided an entrance. Some of the temple's columns still stand, or have been restored to standing position, and they too turned gold in the sun. Until recently, peasants tilled their fields around these columns, taking their presence in the landscape for granted. And why not? Yet so much has gone which is why you tend to forgive the German looters (and the Brits who were equally opportunistic) for spiriting away Turkey's heritage. Who knows how this story ends, but Kenan Erim, the archeologist who got excavations underway at Aphrodisais in the early 1960s and who is buried in the green field by the tetrapylon, is Turkish. That's progress too.
|The Aphrodisias stadium|
|...and southern agora, which featured a stupendously long oval "pond"|
|The Miletus gateway at the Pergamon museum in Berlin|
|Remains of an elaborate one-off structure known as the Sebasteion|
|The monumental gate at Aphrodisias|
|What's left of the temple of Aphrodite|