Archive for January, 2010

9:17 am

Sunday Mass at the House of the Virgin Mary

As far as I know, there is no Catholic Church in Kuşadası. The nearest place to attend Mass is the House of the Virgin Mary, above Ephesus, where Mass is said Sunday mornings at 10:30.

There is no direct dolmuş (dolmuşes are the little minivans that serve as buses here) service between Kuşadası and the House, so at a little after 9, I was at the corner to catch the dolmuş to Selçuk, from where I would need to take a taxi. As it happened, there was another passenger heading to Mass, a friendly Irish woman named Liz. We discussed our destination with the dolmuş driver who, in the end, ferried us all the way to the House, waited for us during Mass, and got us back down to the bus station to get a dolmuş back to Kuşadası.

There is a chapel at the site where Mass is held. This is a fairly recent addition, having just been consecrated last year. Apparently, Mass had been said in the House itself, but was constantly being disturbed by tourists.

I was a little surprised that Mass was in English: I had been expecting Turkish, or even, given the need to cater to multilingual pilgrim visitors, Latin. I’m not sure if the English reflects the fact that the core parish community seems to be made up of Anglophone expats or that English is the de facto international language of tourism (if not the Church). At any rate, it made me much more comfortable about the prospect of coming here regularly. Even better was the discovery that in fact some of the local Catholic expats have their own informal minibus service.

There is a spring beneath the House, and its waters are said to have miraculous powers. Adjacent to the faucets for the spring water, there is a prayer wall:

I was more focused on Mass than pictures, but I’ll take more pictures next week. In the meantime, this site has more pictures and information.

8:11 am

Visiting Ephesus

On Friday the 8th, I visited Ephesus, which contains the largest collection of Roman ruins in the eastern Mediterranean.

The Basilica of Mary, Mother of God, was the site of an ecumenical council in the 4th century. Its existence supports the claim that Mary lived near Ephesus toward the end of her life (since in the early days of the Church, churches were dedicated only to those who had lived nearby).

There’s the remains of a necropolis, littered with sarcophogi:

The great amphitheater is the site of the riot described in Chapter 19 of the Acts of the Apostles:

It was still being used as a theater into this century, and Pavarotti and Elton John appeared there, but I’m told that such use is now forbidden.

The Library of Celsus is my favorite structure in Ephesus, and looks to be the best restored:

The Temple of Hadrian:

Looking up Curetes Street:

And looking down Curetes Street, back toward the Library of Celsus:

I don’t know who or what this frieze represents, but I liked it:

This theater was next to what had been roughly the equivalent of the Ephesus City Hall. It was a covered theater, and apparently used both as the seat of the city Parliament and for indoor concerts:

The day I was visiting, there was a Norwegian Cruise Lines ship in port and so there were seemingly dozens of groups of tourists visiting Ephesus. In "honor" of their visit, there was a rather hokey "Live Interactive Show":

There were dancing girls:

There was a juggler (off to the left there):

A pair of gladiators held a mock battle:

And they all processed off grandly at the end of their little five-minute show, to return about five minutes later and do it all again:

By the time I was leaving, all the cruise line buses had left, and they were closing up shop:

Last but not least, we have kittens of the ruins:

Grotto of the Seven Sleepers

On my way out, I detoured by the Grotto of the Seven Sleepers, which I found rather disappointing. Everything was fenced away and locked up and I couldn’t tell what I was looking at.

7:49 am

First Look at Kusadasi

I arrived in Kuşadası on Tuesday, and so have had a few days to start to get settled in.

Kuşadası is a town that reinvented itself for the sake of tourism. As a consequence, now, during the off-season, it doesn’t seem to have much reason for existing! In the Bazaar (conveniently near the harbor), only about 1 in 3 of the shops and restaurants are open. But even in the high season, tourists don’t come for the sights, but for the beaches. So, there’s really not much to look at in town.

Kuşadası takes its name from Bird (or Pigeon) Island: an small island attached to the mainland by a causeway and that is allegedly shaped like a bird. I can’t see this elusive resemblance myself, though:

The fortress on the island is apparently closed for the off-season. According to my guidebook, it’s a popular place for picnicking during the summer, but this time of year, there was hardly anyone there.

After living inland for the past three years, I’m pleased to be back by the sea, and I’ve enjoyed wandering down by the harbor. The bird motif is popular here, as in this statue:

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