Selçuk-Efes, the Modern Ancient Jewel

A Backpacker in Europe

Part III Chapter II

Selçuk-Efes, the Modern Ancient Jewel


On the way to Ephesus Turkey is a country of skewed population. More than 60% of the population of Turkey is under 25 years old. And visited Turkey during its general election period (unplanned), the fresh ideas or idealism from modern Turkey could be heard everywhere.

Contrary to its very broad young generation base, Turkey is also one of the countries around the world that dominates in the realm of archaeology. One of the most appealing and unmatched archaeological sites in term of sheer magnitude is Efes, or more internationally renowned as Ephesus.

The Temple of Artemis

Ephesus is located at the west of Turkey and is within the proximity to the Aegean Sea. However, the  closeness of the city to the sea didn’t help in guaranteeing a warm weather during my visit. Although I was lucky enough to get blanketed by sunshine in intervals, travelling to Turkey in April remains an unwise proposition. But if you believe the friendliness of Turks is sufficient to melt the April snow, welcome to Turkey.

Staying within the ancient city of Ephesus was impossible. Instead, like many others, I stayed at Selçuk, a nearby city half an hour walking from Ephesus. Though surging above the international tourism arena mainly due to its proximity to Ephesus, Selçuk was actually a very little adorable small city by itself. Not to mention also is the Ephesus Museum in Selçuk that offers some exceptional collections of the ancient world.

The Arch of Hadrian Owes to its importance for the insanely famous Ephesus, Selçuk was filled with decent restaurants and affordable accommodation that suit the budget of different travellers. However, from my observation the living standard of the natives didn’t seem to benefit much from the handsome revenue generated through the tourism industry.

It was hard to not realise the establishments of the many carpet and souvenir shops in Selçuk. But what surprised me was some ‘money’ conversation I had with local children during my unexpected and unplanned encounter to the slum of Selçuk, which ironically separated itself from the ‘posh’ Selçuk only by a strip of road. However, it wasn’t nasty at all meeting the children. But surely, it had projected a struggling image of Turkey to me, which I still find it very hard to justify after my trip.

Library of Celsius Unfortunately also it wasn’t the season for camel fighting during my visit. Otherwise my stay in the Selçuk definitely would have been much more interesting.

Back to Ephesus, one of the most sought after tourist hotspot was the Temple of Artemis. Crowned as one of the ancient seven wonders of the world, the Temple of Artemis had however lost all its ancient glory. The whole site resembled a deserted area left with a pile of scattering stones and a lonely column erected from a stack of random pieces of small round stones.

Although there was still some hawkers persuading tourists for business, the Temple of Artemis had clearly been marginalised from the Ephesus main site, as could be easily noticed from the crude stone mark placed at the most unnoticeable side of the road.

The Theatre Ephesus main site was however a completely different story. It was magnificent and breathtaking, especially when I was standing at the Theatre looking towards the ancient harbour site. The impression of ancient architectural achievement could not be felt any deeper at the other place.

Besides the Theatre, the grandeur of Library of Celsius was also a favourite. But don’t expect anything else beyond the glamorous entrance of the library. There was also a House of Virgin Mary where everyone was trying to reach. But having been inundated by a swathe collection of stones, I found myself to be archaeological intolerant after a couple of hours.

Slum of Selçuk Not considering myself a huge fan of archaeology, and by not subscribing to the day long personal guide offered by the individuals waited at the entrance of the site saved me from hours and hours of archaeology lecture, I headed back to Selçuk and waited patiently for the arrival of the coming day when I could immerse in the wonder of nature at Pamukkale.