Our days in Selcuk were filled with sunshine. It was quite a good break from the blistering cold autumn weather during the first two legs of our #SweetEscapesInTurkey. We spent a day and a half in the historical town, and we managed to see most of the major attractions plus a short afternoon trip to the lovely village of Sirince.
Full day guided tours are available from Pamukkale. but since we wanted freedom (as always), we created a DIY tour itinerary, booked two nights in Ayasoluk Hotel, and purchased one-way bus ticket.
|Hello, sunshine! Hello, Selcuk!|
Here's how we spent two sunny days in Selcuk:
Day 1 - 12:00 PM - Arrival in Selcuk Bus Station
We arrived in Selcuk via the inter-city Pamukkale Turizm bus. It was a smooth and hassle-free trip. Details were shared in this blog post: How to get to Selcuk from Pamukkale by Bus
Day 1 - 1:00 PM - Check-in at Ayasoluk Hotel
We called Ayasoluk Hotel our home in Selcuk. It is a lovely family-run hotel situated in the historical Ayasoluk Hill. Read about our stay in this blog post: Ayasoluk Hotel in the Heart of Selcuk
|Ayasoluk Hotel in Selcuk|
Day 1 - 4:00 PM - Afternoon in Sirince
Sirince is a pretty Greek village kept in the mountains in the east of Selcuk. The moment I saw an image of the picture-perfect town in the internet, I couldn't take my mind off it. So, I did my research, and when I found out that getting there is as easy as 1 2 3, it became the first destination on the third leg of our #SweetEscapesInTurkey.
At four in the afternoon, we took a public minibus from Selcuk otogar. Minibuses run between two tourist towns every 30 minutes. One way ticket costs 3TL. After around 15 minutes on the road, we arrived in the crowded yet charming town of Sirince.
As the marketplace in the town center was brimming with tourists, Ed and I made our way up to village. We met some locals along the cobblestone pathway - kids with flowers for their mother, a man driving a tractor, and another man taking care of his farm animals. We were fascinated with their simple lifestyle despite the tourism boom.
|white brick and stucco homes in Sirince|
|getting acquainted with the humble village in the touristy town of Sirince|
|view of the village fron the top of the hill|
Day 1 - 5:00 PM - Sirince Wine Tasting
Sirince is famous for fruit wines. There are several varieties and the price is reasonable - only 10 TL per glass; hence my husband didn't miss the opportunity to have a taste. The pleasantly sweet Pomegranate wine had him contemplating whether to have another glass or not, but later on decided that one is enough for him to indulge.
|Ed and a glass of Sirince fruit wine|
|wine stall in the middle of the town|
Day 1 - 6:00 PM - Dinner at Le Jardin in Sirince
At sunset, we had our dinner in Le Jardin restaurant located at the foot of the village. I had a plate of Manti - Turkish ravioli smothered with yogurt sauce. It tastes mild and rustic, but left me begging for a more savory flavor. Ed had a healthy chicken salad which he gladly shared. We both enjoyed the wholesome bowl as the vegetables are fresh and the dressing is pleasurably piquant.
Overall, it was a good dinner at a good price. Our bill for two was only 33 TL. We could have stayed and enjoyed the stillness of Sirince at dusk from the restaurant's patio if we didn't have a bus to catch. The last bus bound to Selcuk on that day was at 7:30 PM. Thankfully, we didn't miss it! :)
|Manti - Turkish Ravioli|
|Le Jardin's Chicken Salad|
Day 2 - 10:00 AM - Basilica of St. John
We started our second day in Selcuk with a good breakfast at Ayasoluk Hotel, followed by a short stroll to one of the town's prime attraction. We had a DIY walking tour the whole morning which started at the Basilica of St. John.
St. John the Evangelist spent his last years in Selcuk. A mausoleum was built over his grave in Ayasoluk Hill, but later on replaced with a basilica with a Latin-cross plan by Emperor Justinian. Due to a strong earthquake in the 14th century, the monumental basilica was ruined. It was partialy restored, yet still doesn't look like they way it was it was before.
We paid 10 TL each at the gates of the historical site and spent a solemn hour wandering at the ruins. Although most of the basilica are still in fragments, it still looks impressive. The thought of being where St. John was buried immensely warmed our hearts.
|St. John's burial site|
|remains of the Basilica of St. John|
|wandering in one of Byzantine Empire's largest churches|
|Ayasoluk Fortress on a hill just above the Basilica of St. John|
Day 2 - 11:00 AM - Isa Bey Mosque
We continued our DIY walking tour at Isa Bey Mosque which is just situated below the Basilica of St. John. Ed and I are not architecture buffs but we immediately noticed its distinction from all the other mosques we have seen. It is a remarkable example of Seljukian architecture and is open to the public for free.
|Isa Bey Mosque|
Day 2 - 11:30 AM - Ruins of Ancient Turkish Bath
After a short stop at Isa Bey Mosque, we took the road heading to the Temple of Artemis. Then, we saw an ancient Turkish bath along the way. As curious tourists as we are, we stopped at the wire fence to have a closer look at the time-worn structure.
|ancient Turkish bath in Selcuk|
Day 2 - 12:00 PM - Temple of Artemis
A must-visit attraction in Selcuk is the Temple of Artemis, or should I say the remains of the Temple of Artemis. The famous ancient temple was rebuilt three times before it was completely destroyed in 401 AD. On the present day, only two columns are left in the site where one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World once stood. The statue of Artemis of Ephesus, also called by the locals as the great mother goddess, is now kept in Ephesus Archaeological Museum.
|The historical site is also the best spot to see Selcuk's main attractions! Focused in this photo is the Temple of Artemis. Upper left is Ayasoluk Fortress, below it is the Basilica of St. John, lower left is Isa bey Mosque.|
Day 2 - 1:00 PM - Lunch at St. John's Cafe
After the historical tour, we went back to the town center for lunch. We had our meals at St. John's Cafe, a cozy European-Turkish cafe serving salads, sandwiches, and drinks. Ed, still stuck in his healthy diet, ordered a salad while I went for the well-recommended St. John's Toast. The open-faced sandwich is too delicious for words. The toast is topped with turkey strips, apple slices, and European cheese! Still can't believe we only paid 40 TL for this hearty lunch.
|St. John's chicken salad|
|St. John's Toast|
Day 2 - 2:30 PM - The Ancient City of Ephesus
The highlight of our trip to Selcuk was a visit to Ephesus. The tourist spot is quite far from the main town, hence we hired a cab to take us to the gates. We arrived past 2pm, paid the entrance fee of 30 TL each, and joined the flock of tourists in the great ancient city.
Ephesus was once a vibrant metropolis, a center of trade and commerce. It is a religious site of early Christianity and one of the seven churches of Asia mentioned in the Book of Revelation. Its glorious past makes it an important tourism hub in Turkey.
Ed and I were in awe with the grandiosity of Ephesus for two hours. We didn't join a group tour, but it was fine as the structures are well-marked. Traversing the colonnaded street that connects Hercules Gate to the Celsus Library to the Theatre, we can only imagine how powerful the city is back in its heyday.
|the stunning Celcus Library in Ephesus|
|midday stroll in the ancient city|
|the well-preserved Theatre of Ephesus|
Day 2 - 4:30 PM - House of the Virgin Mary
We hardly noticed the time in Ephesus that we only got to meet our cab driver at the exit gate after two hours. We had one important spot to visit before sunset, so we immediately hopped in the cab and informed him that we're ready to go to the House of the Virgin Mary.
It is believed that the Blessed Virgin Mary spent her last days in a small cottage on top of Mt. Koressos in Selcuk. Her stone house is now a shrine and a chapel for the pilgrims. In the vicinity is a wishing wall where visitors can leave heartfelt letters to the Blessed Mother. I still couldn't describe the joy I felt when I set foot in her cottage. It was a humbling experience I will forever keep.
|stone cottage of the Blessed Virgin Mary, now a chapel and a shrine|
Day 2 - 5:30 PM - Around Selcuk Town
We asked the cab driver to drop us off the bus terminal as we wanted to see more of the main town before we call it a day. We walked closer to the Byzantine Aqueduct that runs from Ayasoluk Hill to the train station. Then, we went though the Selcuk market which was pretty quiet on that time of the day. I heard it gets really lively on Saturdays.
We capped off the great day with a good 10 TL dinner at Selcuk Pidecisi. It is currently Rank 1 in Tripadvisor's list of restaurants in Selcuk. Actually, we had no idea that it is a top rated restaurant. We only stumbled into the menu board and instantly craved for pide or Turkish pizza! Glad that we did as not only their specialty is delicious but also the lamachun, the complimentary salad and dessert. Not to mention, the service is wonderful too!
|Pide and Lamuchun|
|complimentary Turkish dessert at Selcuk Pidecisi|
On our third and last day in Selcuk, Ed and I woke up before sunrise to catch the 6:49 AM train bound to Izmir Adnan Menderes Airport. Taking the train is efficient and cheap; we only paid 5 TL each. There are vendors selling simit and drinks on board, so missing the hotel breakfast wasn't an issue. After a little more than an hour in the railway, we alighted the train in Adnan Menderes station which is exactly in the airport!
By noon, we said our final goodbye to the humble historical town. Then, off we went to the vibrant busy city of Istanbul!
|Selcuk train station|