We had a day at sea after we left Malta on April 1. Since Malta is the home of the Knights of St. John the theme in the dining room that night was, of course, Night of Knights. The next day we docked at Kusadasi (pronounced Kush a dash ee) in Turkey. Kusadasi is an ancient city that has attracted holiday makers and sun worshipers for many years. The winter population is about 70,000 but during the 8 months of summer it rises to 500,000. Tourism has been the driving force of the economy for a long time. The area is also a sought-after location for historians since it is located a short 16 km from the ancient city of Ephesus. There are many important archaeological sites in the area (Turkey has over 2,000 ancient city sites. It is considered the Cradle of Civilization) and they are packed with people all day, every day. Over 150 bus loads of tourists will visit each of the sites on any given day.
This day we took a tour to the ruins at Priene, Didyma, Miletus. Priene is best known for its 4th-century Athena Temple bankrolled by Alexander the Great. Priene was built during the Ionic period. The Hellenic (Greek) construction used local stone. (The later era Romans tended to use marble as a main construction material)
. It also has a 5,000 seat amphitheater built in the third century. It was the responsibility of one member of each family to go to the theater to hear any important news or public announcements and report it back. The theater had to seat 1 in 10 persons so the population of Priene was about 50,000. The poppies were blooming in many of our ports-of-call on this cruise. It is easy to understand why Col. John McCrae used them in his poem “In Flanders Fields.”
One of the unique things about the Priene site is that it was never rebuilt by the Romans after the Greek city reached its height in the fourth century so what visitors see is an unadulterated typical Ionian City. It was really awesome for me to be walking amid such ancient ruins. The stories these fallen columns and stones could tell…
Think of the hours it would have taken a stonemason to create these designs with a hammer and chisel. Absolutely amazing! Look how sharp the edges are on these two pieces. A central hub for the sewer system. And we think we in the 21st century are so smart.
And then it was on the bus for the next stop at Miletus, a trading center created by visitors from Crete.