Saturday, December 11, 2010

Priene, Turkey

We didn't know how much history we'd be learning when we decided to head to Turkey. Turns out the country has more ancient cities than Greece and Italy. We were surprised to find that it is home to all seven churches of the New Testament, Ephesus being one of them. So we rented a car in Bodrum and set out on a road trip to Ephesus to take a blast to the past. On our way to Ephesus, we passed a smaller ancient town called Priene, which we knew absolutely nothing about. The city is not as popular and polished as Ephesus. The place was nearly deserted. This gave us a feeling of discovery since we were walking among ancient city ruins in the middle of nowhere-- set against big craggy mountains and along the edge of a cliff.

Priene is an ancient Greek city which has a well preserved theater, bouleuterion (council chamber), and has standing columns from what used to be the famous temple of Athena which was dedicated by Alexander the Great, who stayed here for a period of time. Priene was part of the Ionian League by the 8th century BC. The streets are laid out in an orderly grid pattern (much like a modern American downtown) which was unusual for ancient cities of the time.

As we were wandering through the stone ruins, we ran into an elderly English man. He had printed some information about Priene and appeared much more prepared than we were, so we ended up exploring the city together. We later learned his name is Thomas and he is a former history university professor in the UK, so we felt pretty lucky to have him along. He did most of the talking.

- Julia

Next up: Ephesus, Turkey