A friend was visiting last week. The usual fare is to visit Ephesus. The ruins of the infamous ancient city just a few tens of miles away from Smyrna.
Ephesus was the gem of Ionia until the Byzantian times. Since Hellenistic period she lead in arts, sciences and provided a peaceful living to its citizens as witnessed nowhere else. Her library was unsurpassed and the ruins today perfectly reflect her glory.
Even though it was still May and the weather was awful by the season’s standards, Ephesus was full of visitors from all over the world. Japanese flocked together to overload the digital consumption, my fellow Americans were all smiles and courtesy.
(A detailed history of the city can be found here)
Towards the end of our tour we ended up at the big amphitheater. We waited for a large Japanese group to end their visit to the theater and started strolling around.
Then finally another Turkish speaking group arrived in tow of their guide. And thus spoke Zarathustra: the guide was explaining the history of the city, of its Greek roots and Hellenistic achievements throughout the history. And finally he ended his tirade by saying “this is why we are so proud to ‘OWN’ this city as Turks. We can go to Greece and say that we own Ephesus!”
Proud nationalism in action. Hatred for Greeks is so deeply rooted in some Turkish minds for no apparent reason that it might even ruin a great touristic experience.
I just simply wanted to tell the guy that owning a land does not simply result in owning its culture. You have to cherish it, utilize it and build upon it to claim it. Turkish authorities cannot claim that virtue while letting some construction company to build a hotel on top of a Byzantian palace in Konstantinopolis.