One of my absolute favourite cruise ports for culture, architecture and history is Kusadasi in the Izmir province of Turkey. This is because of its close proximity to the ruins of the city of Ephesus which can be easily reached from the port by taxi or via one of the organised shore excursions operated by your cruise company.
There are always taxis waiting outside the port waiting to take passengers to Ephesus for a reasonable price. Always be sure to negotiate your price before getting in though to save any nasty surprises.
Ephesus was an ancient Greek, and then later Roman city, which had a population of more than quarter of a million people in the 1st Century BC. At the time it was one of the largest cities in the Mediterranean.
It was completely abandoned in the 15th century after earthquakes, landslides and other problems, but is now being completely excavated, and much of the city has already been uncovered.
The ruins of Ephesus are fascinating, impressive and awe inspiring. When you visit the ruins you can walk through whole streets, shops, Roman baths and more. You can learn about this city which once had one of the most impressive aqueduct systems in the world at this time and which was once one of the most important port cities.
Ephesus is home to The Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and The Library of Celsus, which I think is the most impressive building of all. It dates back to 177 AD and the front of the Library of Celsus has been almost completely restored.
From the position on the top of what was once a busy shopping street looking down onto the library it is breath-taking. The front has a marble façade which seems to glisten in the Turkish sunshine, and ornate statues decorate the exterior.
It is amazing to look at this and think about the time during which it was constructed, and how skilled the workers must have been to achieve this without the help of modern technology and machinery.
There is also a large theatre, which has seats for 25,000 people and was once used for drama and gladiator style combats, and is still used today for some musical performances. Similarly to the Library of Celsus, it is wonderful to imagine the skill involved in creating a theatre of this size mainly by utilising manual labour.
For anyone interested in history, you are sure to absolutely love Ephesus and it’s fascinating story. It is wonderful to be able to walk through the streets, houses and other buildings of the city and try to picture what life was like for the people of Ephesus.