Saturday, 6 October 2012

Ephesus - The Terrace Houses Revisited

Two days  after my peaceful trip to Iassos, I went to Ephesus.  At one point in the mid 1980s, I was in Ephesus at least once a week, so I'm well aware of how crowded it gets and always try to get to the top gate before the coach-party hoards descend.  At its zenith, Ephesus had a population of over 300,000 so the teeming multi-national throng that fills the streets today are, give or take an iphone, camera and baseball cap, not that different to the crowds 2,000 years ago.  It wasn't an enjoyable experience, battling down Curetes Street with Japanese in one ear, French in another while trying to keep up with our guide who had neither flag, umbrella nor height to distinguish himself.


If not careful, it's easy to miss the best part of Ephesus; the Terrace Houses.  Most of the guides leave them out as there is an additional 15 TL entrance fee but the large sheds you can see on the left of the above photo, cover the buildings which housed wealthy citizens for some 600 years from the first century AD. I first saw these villas about 25 years ago and was lucky enough to be allowed to walk from room to room around the central open courtyard that was the only source of light in the buildings. Not surprisingly, they were then closed to the public while more excavation was carried out and walkways built to protect the mosaics and paintings. 




There is a lot more to see 25 years later and work is still going on to preserve the fantastic wall paintings and reconstruct marble tiled reception rooms.  I was so fascinated with the multitude of rooms on show that I forgot to take photographs until I got almost to the end. 




This mosaic of Triton and a water nymph seemed familiar as I looked down on it from the glass walkway at ceiling height. When I got home I found a photo in my album of the same mosaic and 


a view from inside the courtyard where it is still in situ. This picture, despite its terrible quality, takes me right back to the first time I set foot in the houses. It felt as if their Roman occupants had just popped off to the agora for a jar of honey and would be back any minute. 




26 comments:

  1. This level of preservation seems incredible.

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    1. I think landslides covered the houses so sealed in the walls. The most exciting thought is that there are many more waiting to be exposed.

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  2. OMG!!!! This is my all time favourite place in Turkey....Ephesus. I have been there at least a dozen times, as you know it's quite close to Izmir. We hop in the car and are there for the whole day...I drive my husband nuts because he doesn't understand why I go up and down to Ephesus so many times...and stay till open to close. I just enjoy the beauty of it and I think of what were these people doing on a day like this and what was life like before.
    Thanks for sharing...your post and pictures I immensely enjoyed it.

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    1. I hope we meet up when you next come to Turkey - I think we'd have a good archaeological day out.

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  3. M husband was over it tooby the timeworn got there. Not another ruin! We were there in winter and it as almost deserted so we wondered around uninterrupted for hours. It is so detailed in its preservation. I clearly remember the boys in our group sitting on th bath house latrines and chatting. The sense of the sameness of then and now is overwhelming there!

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    1. Best time to come. Last week there was such a queue through the latrines that no one had time to sit down.

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  4. I'm really glad to learn this. We went to Ephesus some years ago and what sticks in our mind is the first part of your post. Kind of like the Tower of Babel. We were very impressed by the site but the combo of the blazing heat, the crowds and lack of time kept us away from the terrace houses. Now, you've given us a good reason to go back - but in winter probably. Thanks for the info and the photos.

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  5. I missed the terrace houses while I was there in April and now I regret not paying the extra 15tl to go in! I had no idea there was anything up there. Next time, now that I have my muzekart, I feel like everything in Turkey deserves a revisit :)

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    1. A muze card is ok for Efes entrance but unfortunately doesn't cover the terrace houses or Mary's house.

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  6. Wonderful post, many thanks for that! Ephesus calls for us so much, and these terrace houses are a great excuse to go back :)

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    1. I really want to visit Antakya, so will be revisiting your blog before I go.

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  7. J and I tagged on to the back of a visiting party of 'nobs' just after the roof went on. half way round security realised that we interlopers but the guy kindly let us carry on. It was fantastic to see it then - now it looks doubly so! Must return.

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    1. It is quite amazing - better than Pompeii houses I think.

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  8. The houses are just wonderful - the best bits of Ephesus. It makes you wonder what else lies beneath.

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    1. Lots and lots more lie on each side.

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  9. We also love the Terraced Houses. Whenever we take friends round, we make sure they go in the Terraced Houses. Last time I (Hilary) went, we waited till late afternoon / early evening, by which time the cruise ship passengers had left. It's also that bit cooler.
    We're so lucky to live within walking distance and when we get our Museum Cards we will, doubtless, go more frequently.

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    1. I'm so glad I bought a muze card at the beginning of this year. It was only 20 TL then and I've used it so much.

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  10. I so agree with the comment left by "the fly in the web"--"This level of preservation seems incredible." I've been to several places in Greece and seen the results of archeological digs, but never have I seen an on-going one. Nor have I seen wall paintings as you've shown here. Visiting Ephesus has now become a must-do on my "bucket list." Thank you for sharing your enjoyment and love of all this with us. Peace.

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  11. I'm with Dee in saying that after this great post Ephesus is now on my "must visit" list, BtoB. I love archaeology, especially from classical times, but haven't managed to visit many important sites as yet. One day.....

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  12. I live near Fethiye and am busy reading your archives and loving your blog. However, felt I should comment here as when we last took friends to Ephesus one had mobility problems so didn't go into Terraced Houses. He was delighted the next day to find a reproduction of a terrace house in Selcuk Museum - which is an excellent Museum overall and I think often missed by visitors to Ephesus.

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    1. I agree with you Pat, I too love Efes museum.

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  13. Hi BacktoBodrum, I wonder if you would have any info on tours to Ephesus from Bodrum that are more for the 'specialist' rather than the ordinary traveller? We're in Bodrum first week of September, my OH is an archaeologist and would like to see the terraced houses as part of an Ephesus tour - thanks for any help.

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    1. Hi Amanda, thanks for commenting. I think the best way to see Efes from Bodrum is too hire a car - make an early start and get to the site before the tours. The route is really easy and you can call in to Euromos anf Pecin Kale on the way back. I will be back in Bodrum on 4th September, i 'll happily meet and give you dome advice if you emsil me at backtobodrum@gmail.com

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