As we waited in the Kayseri airport to return to Istanbul for an early morning flight home, we met a large group of energetic ten year old boys on their way to watch the number one pro futball (soccer) team in the country, Galatasaray. We were the first Americans they had every encountered and were immediately caught up in the excitement.
We took a break from visiting the ruins after lunch to learn about carpet weaving. Turkish carpets are highly valued and heavily promoted, especially in Istanbul. If you are not careful, you will be invited into a shop by an over friendly owner, who speaks perfect British English, offered tea, and then given a hard-sale pitch. This has happened every time I’ve been in Istanbul, but we had yet to actually see carpets being made. Today was the day. We visited a small school when girls attend in the afternoons and summer months to learn the art of carpet making. The tour was informative, beginning with the extraction of silk, the designing of the pattern, and the tediousness of knotting the carpet, each double knot tied and trimmed by hand. I have yet to purchase a carpet, but I know that in the future one, or more, will find a place in our home.
Today’s journey was a walk through time. As we meandered through the ancient ruins at Ephesus we crested a hill only to be greeted by the remains of the Library of Celsius. We stopped in amazement as we gazed upon the structure.
It was built in the year of 135 AD, in the memory of Tiberius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus, a popular Roman consul from the year of 92 and governor of Asia in the year 115, by his own son, Gaius Julius Aquila. The library served as a tomb for the great Celsius as well. The library is a rather unusual place for the tomb – being buried here was a great honor for Celsius.
The monument has preserved within its walls more than 12,000 ancient scrolls, manuscripts of inestimable value. Romans were eager to expand their culture all over the empire –only such an argument could explain the rise of one of the most impressive libraries in the entire history of Rome in Asia Minor. This is the second largest library after the Ancient Library of Alexandria.
The building is known as one of the few surviving examples of ancient Roman libraries and it prooves that public libraries were built not only in Rome itself, but throughout the Roman Empire. After extensive restoration work, the facade has been restored and now serves as a prime example of Roman public architecture. The style of the library -with its decorative, balanced, well-designed façade -reflects the Greek influence on Roman architecture. Construction materials such as bricks, concrete, rubble and came into use in the Roman Empire in the 2nd century AD. The library has been restored with the help of the Austrian Archaeological Institute, and the originals of the statues were placed in Ephesus Museum in Vienna in 1910. (Retrieved from http://www.bestourism.com/items/di/1426?title=Celsius-Library-in-Turkey&b=219)
After a three hour drive, we arrived at Heirapolis, an ancient Greco-Roman city on top of the Cascades. Waking through the ancient ruins was breathtaking. The Cascades were stunning. The walk on the water was a bit slippery but worth it. Part of the movie The Odyssey was filmed on the Cascades. As I said, it was a bit slippery and my camera did take a fall. All the photos were saved, but not sure if it will work tomorrow. Not to worry, I still have my phone and iPad for photos. We ended our tour with a stroll through an ancient graveyard.
After an early flight to Izmir and a short van ride, we arrived in the Greek village of Sirince. This small village, of only about 700 locals, is in sharp contract to the over 16 million of Istanbul. We enjoyed a lovely lunch and sampled local wines. The shopping was very good as well. Many of the homes have been converted into small hotels and B&Bs (think of the movie Mamma Mia without the singing). I especially liked the Gullu Konaklari.