A Travellerspoint blog

Smyrna and Pergamum

15UploadedFile0.jpg 9UploadedFile1.jpg 3UploadedFile2.jpg After four nights in Kusadasi, we drove north this morning, passing through Izmer (ancient Smyrna), though we didn't stop there, as there are very few ruins uncovered there. Izmer is Turkey's third-largest city, with around three million people. It is interesting that this prosperous city of today was one of the two in Revelation which received no condemnation. Almost all you could see were high-rise apartments all over the place (photo). Our lunch was in a cooperative carpet-making factory, where all the amazing work is done by hand. Jeanette got to help spin some silk (photo) - it was interessting learning how that was done (thanks to the silk worms). We managed to get out of there without having purchased a rug, though one couple in our group did. Our fascinating archeological visit for the day was in Pergamum (Bergama today), one of the most impressive archeologial sites in Turkey (and, along with Smyrna, one of the seven churches of Revelation). We saw the acropolis (top of the city), the Temple of Trajan (photo), and the location of the Altar of Zeus (probably "Satan's throne" in Revelation). It is believed that jurors in the court of justice would hold up a black stone as a sign of "guilty" and a white stone as a sign of "innocent" or freedom.

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A "Day Off"

2UploadedFile3.jpg Today (Thursday) was our day of rest - it was quite nice. We slept late, lounged around a lot, and read a lot. Tonight we had a lecture on icons (after visiting the Greek Orthodox monastery yesterday). So the photo today is of our pleasant rather small hotel on the Aegean Sea.

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14UploadedFile0.jpg 8UploadedFile1.jpg 2UploadedFile2.jpg We got an early start this morning (5:45) and took the four-hour boat trip (just our little group on a boat that seats 300) to the beautiful island of Patmos. As we approached the island (photo), we could see the monastery at the top of the highest peak. We first went to the cave where it is believed that John received the vision and dictated the words of the Revelation. (The photo is of the entrance to the small church above the cave - no pictures were allowed inside.) This is a very holy site for Orthodox (Eastern) Christians. Further up the hill is the Greek Orthodox monastery from the sixth or seventh century. Patmos is a very picturesque island (final picture) - we wished that we could have had more time there, but we had to make the long trip back to our hotel in time for dinner. Another wonderful and relaxing day!

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UploadedFile10.jpg UploadedFile11.jpg On another beautiful day, we reached one of the high points of our sabbatical - a day in Ephesus. The excavations there are among the best in the world. It was amazing to be in the city where Paul spent two or three years of his ministry, and from which he wrote First Corinthians and probably other letters. One of the most amazing sights is the ancient library (second or third century AD) (photo), after which we saw the actual amphitheater from which Paul preached (Acts 18:23-41) (second photo). One of the wonderful things we have been enjoying in Turkey has been the great ethnic lunches - every day something different. Today's was in a wonderful mountain setting. We have also enjoyed the "lectures" (about 30 minutes), some after breakfast in the hotels, some in the bus, and some in natural settings, such as our discussion today of the role of Mary through history which took place in a shady corner of the ancient church dedicated to Mary in Ephesus. It is believed that John took Mary to Ephesus to live after the resurrection. It is thought that John was the only disciple of the original twelve to die a natural death.

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Neither hot nor cold

2UploadedFile4.jpg 1UploadedFile5.jpg UploadedFile6.jpg Monday morning we drove the short distance to Laodicea, one of the seven churches in Revelation 2-3. On the way we saw another view of the calcified mounds from yesterday, this time with a couple of tourists (photo). Ladociea was especially interesting, because most of the excavations and restorations are from the last fifteen years, and many from the last couple of years. The photo is of the main street of the city. It was also interesting to see restoration work actually happening as we watched (photo). Laodicea is near the calcified mounds and hot springs, as well as a cool river (hence, "you are neither hot nor cold"). This afternoon we visited the Church of St. John the Evangelist and then had a late-afternoon tea and dessert at our wonderful guide's house. We are staying for four nights in a wonderful spot near Ephesus with a private beach on the Aegean Sea. Tomorrow is our day in Ephesus, Wednesday we sail to Patmos (from where John wrote the Revelation), and Thursday is a mostlly free day. This is all beyond our expectations for this "course."

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