Shuffling my feet along a street made from marble slabs, I was following in the footsteps of the Virgin Mary, who, our guide tells us, lived near this ancient city, now part of Turkey, in the final years of her life.
The Marble Road cuts through the heart of what was the second largest city in the Roman Empire. Our guide points to grooves carved from the frequent traffic of chariots and carts, and to beautiful mosaic sidewalks alongside the road. Mark Antony and Cleopatra rode in procession here. St. John lived nearby.
Temples and businesses lined the Marble Road. Now only ruins remain. The two-story facade of the Celsus Library boasted 12,000 papyrus scrolls when it was built in the 2nd century. Across from it, a brothel, now roofless, has traces of frescoes and mosaics on walls still intact.
We were fortunate to be able to see the 2nd-century Terrace Houses, opened only in 2006 and fortunate also to be here in May, when the temperatures are tolerable. But tolerable or not, Ephesus is a must-see in any season. Bring along a hat and drinking water, and join a smaller group if possible.
Walking the Marble Road is a walk through classical Greece and early Roman history. Emerald Princess awaits us in Kusadasi, less than 30 minutes by bus from the ruins of Ephesus.