Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Olympia, Greece

Olympia is on the west side of the Pelopenese peninsula in Greece. Katakolon is the closest port. For this visit we hired a taxi to take us to Olympia, wait for us, and bring us back to Katakolon. Great way to visit Olympia. We could see what we wanted and spend as much or  as little time as we wanted. We could also avoid crowds this way. Olympia was a sanctuary with several temples as well as an athletic training site and the place where the ancient Olympics were held. Please see my blog of 10/16/ 09 for more details and photos.

The four photos below show some of the ruins of the sanctuary.


The photo below shows a wall with an interesting pattern used in it's construction.

This column and the platform on which it rests is basically all that remains of the Temple of Zeus. This temple contained a huge ivory and gold statue of Zeus, one of the Ancient Wonders of the World.

Below is what I think is part of the Temple of Hera. If memory serves me correctly, the Olympic fire is lit in the stone bowl, using a parabolic mirror to ignite it.. The Olympic torch is lit from the bowl and then carried to the site of the modern Olympics.

Below are the remains of  the Philippeion.

Below are the remains of the tunnel entrance to the Olympic stadium. Only the 20 finalists in each event were allowed to use this tunnel. This photo is taken from the stadium looking out the tunnel.

Above is the stadium showing the starting line. About halfway down on the left is a stone stand where a priestess stood, the only woman allowed in the stadium.

Above are terra cotta decorations from the friezes of buildings, adding in my view, much needed color. Below is a lion's head, also probably decoration on a building.

For some reason or other I really like the sculpture of the bull shown below. Maybe 'cause I'm an old cowboy.

The handsome dude below appears to be having his beard yanked by someone, maybe his grandson.

This is the harbor of Katakolon. The last photo is the beautiful blue Ionian sea, as we leave Katakolon behind.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Dubrovnik, "Pearl of the Adriatic"

Dubrovnik is a small city in Croatia, located on a small peninsula on the east Adriatic coast. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The old part of the city is medieval and surrounded by a wall. The wall has several strong points(small forts) built into it. It is something over a mile in length, and is wide enough to be a pleasant stroll. No army ever breached Dubrovnik's walls. It is one of the few Adriatic ports that did not come under Venetian control.

Above is the old gate leading through the wall into the old city. As you can see below walking around the wall is very nice. It also affords wonderful views of the city, forts, harbor, etc.

Above is the Onofrio fountain, on a square just inside the main gate. It is still in use. Below is a roof line. The red tile is typical of all of Dubrovnik.

Above is Fort Lovrijenac, facing the Adriatic. Below is a view of the city, taken from virtually the same place as the above photo, turned 180 degrees.

Below is  a window with hanging wash and another photo showing windows and a back garden.

The photo below shows a strong point on the wall, probably a corner.

Below is an art or craft shop. This entrance is on top of the wall.

The photo above is from the wall looking up a typical narrow medieval street. The photo below is a window probably on a church.

Below is part of a church. Being up high on the wall gives a perspective that you can't get from street level.

Below is another of the wall's strong points, facing the sea.

More washing hanging up to dry.

Above is a view across the city. A church, the wall and a small fort are clearly visible. Below is a bell tower.

Below is a view of the small inner harbor.

Below is a lovely balcony.

I believe the roof shown below is part of a church.

The two photos below show churches.

The photo above is looking across the city towards the Adriatic. Dubrovnik was under siege by Serbian forces during the war that erupted after the breakup of Yugoslavia. Unfortunately it underwent heavy shelling. Most if not all the damage has been restored now, and to the conditions that existed prior to the war. As you look across the roofs, you will see some old tile and some brighter red new tile. At least some of the new is due to the Serbian shelling. The photo below is from the same spot, but turned to the right a bit to pick up the fort.

Here is another shot of the fort.

Below is one of the strong points or forts in the wall.

The rest of the photos are not taken from the wall. The first photo below is of a typical street. The second is of a door; I don't know where the door leads.

Here is another street followed by another door. I don't know what the door leads to, but it must be important or valuable since it is triple locked.

I found this window to be rather unique.

This is called the Franjo Tudman Bridge, and connects the Dubrovnik peninsula to the mainland.

The last photo is an island just off the coast. I have been unable to determine what its name is, if it even has one.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Ephesus II

The ancient city of Ephesus is located in western Turkey, near the port of Kusadasi. At it's height in the 2nd or 3rd century AD it had some 250,000 or more people. It was one of the most important cities in the Roman Empire. The Apostle Paul spent at least two years there and wrote letters to the Christian inhabitants. Ephesus was a port and when the port silted up it ceased to have any importance and basically withered and died.

On this trip to Ephesus we hired a private guide. Four of us tourists, one guide and one driver in an air conditioned Mercedes van, plus lunch The guide spoke excellent English and was very knowledgeable. The name of the tour group is Magical Steps and can be found at www. Highly recommended. I previously wrote about Ephesus in a blog called, strangely enough, Ephesus, on 10/13/09.

On entering Ephesus you proceed down a long street which was a main commercial street. Shops, a small theatre, a Roman bath, temples and a small Christian Basilica are found along this street. Near the bottom of the street the hills rising to the south have been excavated extensively, revealing what are called Terrace Houses.These were private houses, with some common areas. They were for the well off, sort of like Scottsdale or Beverly Hills condos.

The photo above is some of the ruins on the north side of the street. Below are what appear to be bulls' heads decorating the tops of some columns.

Below is a water pipe. Ephesus had both running water and a sewer system. The sewage was collected and used as fertilizer, according to our guide.

 Below is an early Christian basilica. Note the cross on the lintel.

 Below is a small theatre.

The two photos below reveal some of the construction methods. Interlocking pegs and holes were used. Many of the columns were made of small drums fitted together with the same type of peg and hole technique. Sort of like a giant Lego set.

In the photo below are some bas-relief sculptures, perhaps part of a temple.

The two photos below are two of my favorites, because I can relate to the occupants. The top one is the sign of a physician, the staff of Aesculapius, and the bottom one, which was located directly across the street, the sign of a pharmacist.

 Pictured below is a small temple.

Details from a building, probably a small temple.

Below is a photo of a lavatory. I know I showed this in the earlier blog about Ephesus(10/13/09),
but I need to make some corrections. It was a men's lavatory, not women's, and was part of the Roman bath, which was also men only.

The next series of photos are all from the Terrace Houses. The first shows wall plaster and painted decoration from a Terrace House room.

This next photo is of the small Christian basilica in the middle of the Terrace Houses.

 The photo below shows some walls partially restored. Much of this work is like trying to assemble a gigantic jigsaw puzzle.

This photo shows partially restored exquisite wall paintings.

The photo below below shows excavation and restoration in progress. Note the extensive floor mosaic .

The owner of the house below seemed to like birds.

A broader view of some of the restoration.

This lion is a wonderful floor mosaic.

Another broader view.

A floor mosaic of a woman, along with some wall paintings.

Again a view of several rooms and walls.

Painting of what appears to be a dove or pigeon with a flower in its mouth. Note the water pipe showing on the right.

Another great floor mosaic.

Below is a view of west Ephesus from the Terrace Houses. This area is choc-a-bloc with unexcavated ruins. Only about 20% of Ephesus has been excavated.

 This is the Celsus Library, second only to the library at Alexandria. It is located just west of the Terrace Houses at the bottom of the main commercial street.

Another street with many columns still standing.

 The street below is the main street leading down to the docks.

Another side street.

 Below is a young woman weaving a silk Turkish rug. This was at a government run facility for the encouragement of traditional Turkish arts and crafts. It was very interesting and without any pressure to buy.

Below are some of the ruins of the temple of Artemis, at one time a magnificent place. Very close to the excavated ruins of Ephesus.

I highly recommend Ephesus, and I highly recommend doing it with a good private guide, such as we did this time.