The Aegean and Ephesus

“Coffee should be black as hell, strong as death and sweet as love.”
–Turkish proverb

It’s hardly a secret that the land on which so many ancient Greeks and Romans trod is now Turkey.

Much of it is in the area of the Aegean Coast.

It’s no wonder they chose to settle here. Besides being drop-dead gorgeous, the region offers a near-perfect climate and easy access to the blue waters of the Aegean.

In its heyday, Ephesus rivaled Rome in its splendor. It is still one of the most extensive sites of ancient civilization to be found anywhere. Then there’s Pergamum, Aphrodisias, Troy – and hundreds of others. Each site holds its own stories and legacy, not to mention temples, theatres, libraries, gymnasia, and aqueducts – each, it seems, more impressive than the last.

The list is indeed formidable, but don’t be deceived: there’s been a lot going on in the last 2,000 years.

The highly photogenic village of Sirince is full of outdoor cafés and stalls selling a variety of regional specialties, including olive oil and wines.

The equally charming seaside town of Alacati has quickly become one of Turkey’s summer hotspots. Beyond excellent beaches and water sports, the town’s cobbled streets are lined with restaurants and inns converted from stone houses.

For clients interested in Jewish heritage, we can arrange a visit to the centuries-old Yahudi Mahallesi – or Jewish Quarter – in Izmir (Smyrna), which was one of the Ottoman Empire’s most important Jewish centers. It once contained 15 synagogues; a handful of which still function and are considered to be among the most beautiful in the world. There is an ancient synagogue at Sardis as well.

We can arrange for a day at serene Lake Bafa (a favorite of bird watchers) on a private boat. There’s nothing like a picnic lunch set against the scenic backdrop of crumbling Byzantine fortifications.

The oft-photographed terraced cascades of Pamukkale (near Aphrodisias) form a “cotton castle,” due to its calcite-rich waters and thermal springs.

This region was the stomping ground of the ancients. Beyond the well-known sites, there are countless remnants of temples and marketplaces scattered throughout the landscape. We are happy to arrange a hike to one or two and a private picnic.

Alternatively, we can arrange something more extravagant. You can end your trip to Turkey at Ephesus, where your final night will be at an after-hours private dinner in front of the signature landmark of Ephesus – the Selcuk (Celsus) Library – just like the Romans.