Exploring Ephesus and Ionia by Land
A chance to explore Ephesus and the surrounding land of Ionia by land. In ancient times, Ionia, now on the Aegean coast of Turkey developed a civilisation of quite exceptional brilliance. In the centuries before Alexander the Great, the dynamic cities of Ionia helped lay the foundations of Greek literature, science, and philosophy.
Under Rome, these cities became ever more rich, prosperous, and beautiful - full of the finest temples, theatres and markets that money could buy. This land tour explores the history, archaeology and legacy of this influential area.
The highlights are plentiful: from the gargantuan oracular temple at Didyma to the marvellously preserved Hellenistic city of Priene, where the houses, streets, and public buildings are laid out in a perfect grid across a hillside.
There is of course, Ephesus itself, capital of Roman Asia. One of the very first cities to have street lighting, the site is magnificent - marble streets, agoras, villas, a theatre for 28,000 and an extraordinary library. It is one of the best preserved Roman cities in the Mediterranean and all the more impressive now that they have opened some of the private Roman houses to the public. Their wall paintings and mosaics are quite stunning.
Day 1: Our hotel is about an hour’s drive south from Izmir airport. Welcome drink and dinner.
Day 2: Heading north we visit the attractive Greek hilltop city of Notion, still standing sentinel over the sea, looking south to the island of Samos. Then inland to Claros with its vast oracular temple of Apollo, a major pilgrimage site in antiquity, currently under excavation by Turkish archaeologists.
Day 3: Heading south, we stroll around the ruins of Magnesia on the Maeander, where an impressive monumental temple to Artemis is being uncovered. We then climb the ancient roads of Priene, an almost perfectly preserved Hellenistic (4th century BC) city, with a quite perfect Greek theatre. The ruins of this beautifully situated city, high on the slopes of Mt. Mycale, are some of the most romantic in all of Turkey, with stepped streets, temples, colonnades and much more shrouded in pine trees.
Day 4: South again to discover one of the most significant cities in Greek history, the preeminent metropolis before the rise of Athens: Miletos. Here lived some of the earliest and most influential Greek scientists, philosophers and geographers. Built for trade on the tip of a peninsula jutting out into the sea, today it lies marooned inland, with its vast theatre, one of the very finest of the age, rising out of the plain on vast vaulted passages. Close by, and once connected by a Sacred Way, lies the colossal and awe-inspiring oracular temple of Apollo at Didyma, amazingly well preserved and one of the absolute gems on this cultural tour in Turkey.
Day 5: We head inland up the valley of the River Maeander, an important ancient trade route, to the city of Nysa. Archaeologists have just begun a new campaign at this important and scenic site split by a ravine, where ruins including a theatre, gymnasium and library lie swathed in olive trees. At Selcuk, we climb up the Ayasoluk hill, and explore the Byzantine fortress built in the face of Arab raids. Inside the fortress stands the magnificent Basilica of St. John, built by Emperor Justinian, at the height of the empire’s fortunes.
Day 6: A short distance inland lies one of the most celebrated ancient sites in the world: Ephesus. After seeing its glorious museum we have ample time to explore the spectacular remains.
Day 7: Transfer to Izmir airport.
This is a previous tour itinerary. However, we can offer it as a private tour. Please see our Gulet Charters page for more information.