Turkey, long poised at the junction of Europe and the Middle East, is an interesting study in dichotomy. It has played roles in shaping civilizations, while itself a recipient of influences from both regions. A former stronghold of the Byzantines, the country was eventually placed under the Ottoman Empire, whose reign stretched as far as Northern Africa to the west and Western Asia to the east. The collapse of the empire in the early 20th century signaled the start of a modern republic that advocates a secularist stance but whose population largely clings to Sunni Islam.

There are few places elsewhere where you can see this duplexity and perhaps none more so than in the Southern Aegean region. It’s here where you can relive the glory of the ancient Roman empire in Ephesus (Efes), an archeological site that feels grander than those found in Rome. Its popularity has exceeded its existence, which means that despite ceasing to be a city long ago, it’s still teeming with people – tourists, guides, vendors, anyone.

First published in TravelBlog on July 13, 2010.

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