Thursday, 13 September 2007

Ruining the holiday

Ruins, ruins, ruins. Sometimes travelling in Turkey feels like walking around a very old house that has had a bewildering number of tenants. Hatti, Hittites, Persians, Phygrians, Lycians, Lydians, Turks - of the Seljuk and Ottoman varieties - Romans - of the Imperial and Byzantine varieties ... everyone who was anyone back in the day has done their share of redecorating.

To get an idea of the layers of history here, check out this photo from Selçuk. The foreground has the former Wonder of the World, the Temple of Artemis, behind it is a 700 year old Turkish mosque and the 1500 year old ruins of St John's Bascilica, and in the background a restored Byzantine/Seljuk fortress.

We have had a ruin-feast in the last few days, as we have moved south from Canakkale along the Aegean coast. It's a struggle to reign in the superlatives and photos - suffıce to say, everything was cool!
First up was the mack-daddy of all abandoned cities, Troy. I have read so many versions of the Trojan War, from an illustrated children's version to the Illiad, and of course seen Brad and Eric battle it out in the movie, so I was drooling as we toured it. Our guide was excellent, full of passion despite having done the tours for as long as I have been alive, and the site (which had 11 different cities built on it) is an archaeologist's dream.

Lauren takes a break from hunting for Eric Bana to check out the walls of Homer's Troy. They would have been twice as high back when Odysseus was trying to give away dodgy horses.

From there it was off to bustling Bergama, where the highlights were the panorama-laden remains of Pergamon and the Red Bascilica, a former Roman temple and church that Revelations reckons will be the Throne of the Devil when the Apocalypse rolls around. Wicked.

Breakfast overlookıng the Throne of the Devil.

Sadly, the Prince of Darkness was not in when we visited, so we had to make do with the Former Communications Advisor of Dimness.

Indeed, we have decided that ruins are a great place to be silly.

Playing statues at Pergamon.

You would not have wanted to sell hot dogs at Pergamon's amphitheatre.
Amazing as Bergama's stuff was, Ephesus takes the cake. With wide marble streets, squillions of once stately buildings, the Library of Celsus (pic below) and extraordinarily well preserved mansions, it was easy to imagine what it would have been like walking around a big (200,000) Roman city.

The best bit came towards sunset, as Stephen and I went wandering around some of the package tourist-free outskirts of the city. Talk about atmospheric.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

I am weeping quietly into my keyboard...