Visit three meticulously excavated cities whose ruins reveal their splendor and prosperity in ancient times.
After departing from the pier, you will settle in for a picturesque drive to the excavated ruins of Miletus, an ancient city that the Greeks founded near the Menderes River. Although the city was abandoned in the 6th century when its harbors silted up, Miletus once prospered, as you will discover by wandering through its remains.
Among the highlights are a Greco-Roman theater that held 25,000 spectators and the Baths of Faustina, a complex with water fountains shaped like the river god Meander. Despite the relevance of the historical sites, it is hard to imagine that Miletus was once on a peninsula with four harbors, as it is now on a plain that lies five miles inland.
Not far away, you will find the ruins of Didyma, whose key landmark is the Temple of Apollo. One of the largest temples in the ancient world, it was a magnificent monument whose sacred oracle rivaled that of the more famed one in Delphi.
More fabulous ruins await your exploration in the World Heritage site Ephesus, where you will behold one excavated building after another. They include the theater where St. Paul preached, the Church of the Virgin Mary and the Library of Celsus, a monument constructed as a mausoleum with a separate library for scrolls and codexes.
Back in Kusadasi, you might spend free time shopping or stay in town longer for an enlightening carpet lecture.