The Temple of Trajan in Pergamon was built around 114CE and used to worship both Trajan and the next emperor, Hadrian. Statues of both emperors were discovered during restoration work by the German Archaeological Institute and are now in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin.
Turkey – Been There

To see the ruins of Assos, ask for Hussein

Photo by Paul Williams

Turkey – Been There To see the ruins of Assos, ask for Hussein

So many civilizations have passed by the village of Assos: Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman; all have left their mark. All have left something in the ruins.

Tara Isabella Burton
Tara Isabella Burton Travel Writer

The streets of Assos are silent. Baby chickens cluck and peck among the cobblestones; fishermen at the harbor toss anchovies to neck-craning kittens straight from their nets. The ruins here are not commonly visited by tourists, who often head to Ephesus instead. Few columns remain of the splendid temple at the top of the hill; but the glory of Assos is in the juxtaposition of those few stones against the endlessness of the sea.

The center of town is dominated by old men: sitting in silence, drinking tea. One such man, Hussein, invites me for a drive, in a mixture of broken English, broken German, and vague, enthusiastic Turkish. While he waits for one of his five grandchildren to get the car, a broken-down blue Lada, he grabs my hand and drags me across town to his home. “Das ist my house,” he says.

He plucks a pomegranate from a crate in his courtyard and cracks it open, handing me a sticky mess of seeds. Hussein, I learn, is an archaeologist; for years, he was in charge of taking care of the Athena ruins. “Not now,” he says. “Now ich bin grandpapa.”

With Hussein driving, we set off to see the sights of the town: the Eastern Gate, where trade flowed onto the vast networks of the Ottoman Empire, the statue of Aristotle, the Greek sarcophagi on the side of the road. We are “kleine Asia” he says – Asia in miniature.

“You must come back,” he tells me as we pull up at the bus station. He will take me for another drive. He will take me among more columns, more stones. He will show me the necropolis properly. He will show me the Greek island of Lesbos and the vanished cities along the Troad coast, where tourists do not go, because there are just so many ruins to see.

"I will be your guide," Hussein tells me. "When you come back, ask for 'Hussein the Archeologist'." He does not give me his telephone number, nor his full name.

"You and me, old Grandpapa and young madame." He slaps my knee and chortles.

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Ephesus' Library of Celsus, whose facade was restored in the 1970s, was built around 125 AD as a monument to Celsus, governor of Asia. The city was famed for the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, which was destroyed in 401 AD. Photo by Martin Siepmann / Alamy

Martin Siepmann

Martin Siepmann

Canon EOS 5D-III

Agency
Alamy
Aperture
ƒ/11
Exposure
1/250
ISO
200
Focal
33 mm

Ephesus' Library of Celsus, whose facade was restored in the 1970s, was built around 125 AD as a monument to Celsus, governor of Asia. The city was famed for the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, which was destroyed in 401 AD.

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