'The Sacred Way' is the original pilgrimmage route that connected :
The Temple of Artemis in Ephesus to her brother's temple in Didyma, The Temple of Apollo.
Instead, we would do it backwards, and in a car! Dropping in on all the sacred sites nearby, starting with Herakleia, Didim, Milet, Priene and finally Ephesus.
As soon as we got out in the tiny town near the lake our car was immediately surrounded - by 6 old Turkish women. They demanded to know where we were going, appointed themselves our official guides. Inevitably we were marched through vineyards and ancient houses to see various famous rocks (Greg’s favourite ‘Ekmek rock’ - bread shaped rock), the thousand year old olive tree and the ruins of the old aqueducts. The town of Herakleia used to be large port city, but when the waterways silted up cutting off the ocean access, the port became obselete and the people moved away.
Greg joked we would find ekmesh (donkey) graffitied on our car later.
Once a shepherd boy, Endymion, fell asleep guarding his sheep. He slept until the Selene Goddess of the Moon drew her chariot across the sky and spied him asleep and beautiful.
She fell in love immediately (always bad for mortals). Each night she’d visit him to watch him sleep, and finally she offered to grant him anything he wanted. Endymion, being rather vain and young wished for eternal youth & beauty. Selene granted his wish, but for him to stay young and beautiful he would have to sleep forever.
Where he slept they built a temple so the Goddess could visit him nightly, this is the temple we went to see, now in ruins but who knows perhaps Endymion still slumber a there today.
Didymos / Didim
Walking around the unbelievably large columns and ruins we saw old graffiti of people who’d donated money to the temple, advertising shopfronts and others we couldn’t read.
In the spirit of the ancient structure we walked the perimetre and then through the dark temple passageway which signified coming out of the dark (ignorance) and into the light and wisdom of the oracle. Whilst the oracle was long gone I asked a question of the stones and received an answer in exchange….perhaps the ghost of the oracle lives on?
Miletus used to be a bustling port town, with some of the ancient world’s foremost thinkers, but since the river silted up many centuries ago, it became abandoned.
We visited the second smaller temple of Apollo, part of the long pilgrimmage to Didim’s oracle. Some the worlds great thinkers lived and studied here as we learnt in the tiny museum. Really quite modern thinking - going beyond superstition or the gods to explain weather patterns.
Priene: An aristocratic society
This city was the home to the wealthiest citizens the archeologists are now finding. They had luxurious indoor toilets (because of the amount of water you need to pump into your house!), huge private houses, and the city lies on a grid system, devised by a famous Greek architect - and now copied around the world.
Not much is left but flowers and a great view but such an interesting legacy to the world…..
Amazing food!While we ate their boys washed our car, whole meal was only 40 lira and and a few for car wash tip.
Next up we see the ancient city of Ephesus - with toilet clubs, posing cats, and real fake watches!
Jade & Greg x