Monday, January 10, 2011

Oceania Cruise: Santorini, Greece & Ephesus (Kusadasi), Turkey

(Photo from, courtesy of Carmen Alonso Suarez,

This post addresses ports #7 and #8 on the “Grecian Glory" cruise of Oceania’s newest ship, Marina. Marina is due to be christened in early February 2011, and this cruise will happen in May.

(Photo from Oceania Cruises)

Port # 7 on the cruise is Santorini, Greece, one of the major tourist destinations in the Mediterranean, and one that is definitely on my bucket list. I covered Santorini in my June 27, 2010 blog, so I’ll just post a photo on this one.

(Photo from Residence Suites in Santorini)
View over Santorini's Caldra

Port # 8 on the cruise is Kusadasi, Turkey.

Kusadasi Panorama

Daytime temperatures should average about 68 degrees in May, and there are several interesting things to see and do in Kusadasi. One of them is—would you believe it?—to sip Starbucks! Also, Kusadasi’s local bazaar, said to be the second largest in Turkey (behind Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar) is a good place to shop for leather goods, jewelry, and oriental rugs. Click here for a few more suggestions.

The primary reason for a port call to Kusadasi, however, is because it’s only about 11 miles from Ephesus. (Take the cruise line’s shore excursion, or for busses, walk up into the town center and take the bus to Selçuk—they run every 15 minutes or so. Taxis are also readily available.)

At the end of my last post (Monemvasia, Greece) I mentioned the popularity of Ephesus among those I know who have cruised there before. It was not just, “I loved it!” or even, “It was my favorite stop”; but it was more along the lines that it was the favorite stop for everybody in the group. I hope this will illustrate some of the reasons, though I have a feeling we’ll only fully "get it" when we witness it in person.

Once a trade center for the ancient world, Ephesus was the second largest city in the world in the first century B.C., and was for many years the second-largest, behind only Rome, during the Roman Empire. It was the site of one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Temple of Artemis. And it was a city of biblical import, playing host to both the Apostles Paul and John. One book of the Bible, Ephesians, was written by Paul to that city’s believing population. The city was further mentioned by John in the book of Revelation (the Apocalypse) in about 95 A.D.; and some scholars believe that when he penned that work, he did so from Ephesus.

The Apostle Paul actually caused a two-hour uproar in Ephesus regarding Diana (Roman name), or Artemis. That the city was home to the Temple of Artemis, and that that temple was one of the Seven Wonders of the World, probably explains the tumult if one were to come in promoting another God!

(Photo courtesy of Zee Prime at cs.wikipedia)
Model of the Temple of Artemis at Miniature Park,
Istanbul, Turkey

The Temple of Artemis was the largest building in the world, according to Pausanias, the 2nd century A.D. geographer. The oldest remains of a previous version date to the 6th century B.C., Hellenistic Age. “Pliny [1st century Roman author] describes the temple as 377 feet…long and 180 feet…wide, made almost entirely of marble, making its area about three times as large as the Parthenon. The temple's [inner chamber] was enclosed in colonnades of 127 Ionic columns, each 60 feet…in height” (Wikipedia article on “Temple of Artemis”).

The temple has suffered repeated disasters and is today reduced to a column sitting on swampy land. Most of its artifacts are in the British Museum in London; some are in the Archeological Museum, Istanbul. The genuine statue of Artemis can be seen in the nearby Selçuk Museum.

(Photo courtesy of Julian Fong)

The jury is still out as to whether those are breasts, eggs, fruits or—lovely thought—the testicles of bulls.

“Ephesus contains the largest collection of Roman ruins in the eastern Mediterranean. Only an estimated 15% has been excavated. The ruins that are visible give some idea of the city's original splendor…” (Wikipedia). There is something about being able to walk in and among these ancient ruins that is a big part of Ephesus’ appeal to tourist.

(Photo from
Celsus Library

“The Library of Celsus, the façade of which has been carefully reconstructed from all original pieces, was built c. 125 AD by Gaius Julius Aquila in memory of his father and once held nearly 12,000 scrolls. Designed with an exaggerated entrance — so as to enhance its perceived size, speculate many historians — the building faces east so that the reading rooms could make best use of the morning light” (Wikipedia).

Terrace Houses

Under current excavation are seven Ephesus terrace houses, the ancient dwellings of rich Ephesians. The oldest date from the 1st century B.C., and some of them were in use until the 7th century A.D.; and sizes range from 1000 to 6000 sq. ft. Two of the houses have been opened as museums, and on weekdays, visitors can see the archeologists working. (This has to go on my short list of things to see there!)

These homes had all the modern amenities of their day, including heating, hot and cold water, toilets, and possibly a private bath. They were mostly two-storied, with inner courtyards that were open-air. Windows and balconies faced the courtyard, not the outside world, to help protect the property from burglars. (Sources: and

Public toilets, built in the 1st century A.D.,
with a drainage system
I thought I had seen it all when, on tour of a Virginia river plantation, we were shown a 5-seater outhouse. What do they do, I wondered? Post men’s and women’s hours? But this one takes the cake. Since there was an entrance fee to use the public toilets of Ephesus, I suppose it was only the well-heeled who sat practically hip-to-hip, facing the center of the room (and each other) as they all…well, you get the picture.

Early Advertisement

Perhaps just as interesting is the explanation behind this inscription on the marble road. It is considered the first advertisement in history and is believed to be an advertisement for the brothel. “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” (

Temple of Hadrian

The Temple of Hadrian, built before 138 A.D. and dedicated to the Emperor Hadrian, is one of the best preserved and most beautiful structures on Curetes Street.

ScheckTrek pick for accommodations in Ephesus: as yet undecided.

The remaining ports of call for Oceania’s “Grecian Glory” cruise will be the Greek locales of Delos, Mykonos, and Athens.

Till then, sweet dreams and smooth sailing!

(Photo from Oceania Cruises)



  1. Hi,

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    Cruises In Turkey

  2. Mitja, when I first tried to access your link it didn't go through (user error, no doubt). Since writing above, I tried again. OH, WOW! What gorgeous vessels!