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Pole to Pole

Day 46: Selcuk to Ephesus and Marmaris

Ephesus, Turkey 
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Michael Palin - Pole to PoleAt the entrance to the ruins of Ephesus by nine o'clock, to avoid the crowds. There is a gauntlet of stalls to be run before reaching the gates. Alongside the usual stacks of guide-books, fezzes, sun hats, pipes and dresses is a small army of little figures with enormous phalluses. They are reproductions of images which date from the earliest, pre-Christian history of Ephesus when it was the centre of the fertility cult of the goddess Cybele. They're now available as car key-rings. Basil buys a few as Christmas gifts.

I'm not a great one for ruins. Generally it requires an enormous outlay of imagination and patience for relatively scant reward, but the site at Ephesus is so rich that I can walk on 2000-year-old flagstones with recognizable buildings on either side - fountains, libraries and temples donated by the rich of Ephesus to extend their influence and generally impress people. The decorated columns and friezes are often still standing, whilst others lie broken and scattered on the ground. I stumble over history, down the hill, past the remains of a pre-Christian brothel and public latrine to the graceful fašade of the Library of Celsus, built around ad 135 to house 12,000 scrolls - all destroyed when the Goths sacked the city in 262.
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  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 46
  • Country/sea: Turkey
  • Place: Ephesus
  • Book page no: 101

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