Most visitors spend hours scouring the remnants of the Roman Empire’s Ephesus (designated a World Heritage Site just this year), its towering Library of Celsus and the 25,000-seat Great Theatre. But they often miss the vast array of vestiges outside the ticketed area dating back to the Hellenistic and Neolithic periods. And of the millions of tourists who tread the marble floors of Ephesus every year, very few have marveled at the city’s expansive splendour from the air.
The best way to appreciate the size and breadth of the city’s historical footprint is from one of the airborne adventures offered from nearby Selçuk. Microlight, ultralight, and skydiving flights will have adventurers soaring above the Roman ruins, the remains of the Temple of Artemis — one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World — and more. Keep an eye skyward too for the new International Turkey Balloon Fiesta, which may in the future provide another aerial view of Ephesus.
At 4am only 10 minutes away from the historic site of Ephesus, in a sleepy Turkish town, we were woken by the call to prayer. Thus began our exploration of some of Turkey’s most famous, and most striking sites. Whilst hordes of visitors are drawn to Ephesus (2 million a year) many overlook the neighbouring town of Selçuk, where elderly men share a game of backgammon or chess over a cigarette (or three), rattling tractors roam the roads, and satellite dishes dominate the rooftops. For those who wish to visit, we had a wonderful experience at the family-run Urkmez Hotel, with warm welcome, fairy-tale mosquito nets and a rooftop banquet breakfast Urkmez Hotel– and their wonderful sister hotel Ephesus Suites Hotel. For a comprehensive guide to visiting Ephesus and Selçuk written by a local, www.selcukephesus.com is very informative.