We were in the port in Kusadasi for only 6-hours and were scheduled to visit three sites. The locations we visited were near the port town of Kusadasi and took about 30-minutes to arrive inland via tour bus. The area we covered by bus use to be underwater by ocean. We are quickly reminded that Turkey is affected by major earthquakes over the centuries and has knocked down many historical sites that have had to be rebuilt several times. The tectonic movement in this area is such that land keeps getting lifted and raising out of the ocean.
The first stop was to visit the House of the Virgin Mary. This site is recognized by the Vatican as Mary's final living and resting place. It's a humble building that still serves as a church for Masses on Sundays. The foundations of the house are original. The walls have been rebuilt and the roof is new. After the death of Christ, Mary moved and spent her final days here. St. John, the Apostle, accompanied her to this area. One gets to walk through her two room house. I had to remind myself that this area, during her lifetime, was then part of ancient Greece and ruled by the Roman Empire.
The second stop was only a 20-minute drive. Here we visited the Roman ruins of Ephesus. Much of the ancient structures are still being reassembled. In the middle to this ancient town is a Roman amphitheater that seats 25,000 is almost rebuilt. Apparently many recent world famous singers have held live concerts here.
From the amphitheater area one can look toward the sea in the near distance. In that area one can see a very small hill which was once the lighthouse for the ships to enter. It also served as the location where St. Paul the Apostle, was imprisoned for a short while and then released for his preachings. Ephesus is recognized as one of the seven ancient world wonders.
Our third and final tour stop was also near by. We traveled for about 10-minutes. The stop was to see the ruins of the Basilica of St. John the Apostle. It was built by the Emperor Justinian in the 6th century A.D., over his tomb. St. John lived, wrote his letters and was buried here according to his will. He died at the age of 100. His tomb is in the middle of this small archeological area. I am not sure when but his bones were eventually moved from this site and are now in the Basilica in Rome. Several organizations are currently funding the project to reconstruct this Basilica in 4-years. Again, the structures had been destroyed by earthquakes. Next to this Basilica is a small wall where there is a Mosque.
Kusadasi is in a remote area of Turkey and it's significance in terms of religious and ancient archeological history is tremendous. It's not an area where you see big banners and street sign posted everywhere announcing what is here. It's a small and quite area that is visited by people worldwide.
Personally it was an emotionally moving experience to have visited here. The areas we visited today provided a sense of quiet and tranquility. One could hear the sound of the wind moving through the pine trees. There was a feeling of inner calm standing here. One reflects on how the teachings of Christ, and the Apostles, has guided so many throughout the centuries in all parts of the world. I am now walking down the same paths that the Virgin Mary and the Apostles walked on. It's an experience I will never forget.
I am very blessed to be able to travel and see history come alive.
We boarded the ship early in the day and immediately set off to visit Istanbul, Turkey.