Gertrude visited lots of different archaeological sites in the vicinity of İzmir. Some of them such as Ephesus, Bergama and Sardis still make obvious choices even today. However, others such as Larissa and Colophon certainly don’t.

In part the sites she chose would have been dictated by proximity. So a trip to Colophon made perfect sense when she was staying with the Van Lennep family at nearby Bulgurca. Other choices were more or less dictated by the proximity of railway stations.

Today it’s almost impossible to imagine a Turkey in which decent roads don’t exist. But at the turn of the 20th century there were hardly any proper hard-surfaced roads which meant that the easiest way to reach many destinations was to use a train to break the back of the journey and then proceed by horse or carriage from the nearest station. That’s why Gertrude ended up in Soma and Söke, for example, neither of them towns that see much tourist traffic today but both of them on the rail routes out of İzmir.


Soma provided her with a base for visiting Manisa and Bergama while Söke offered access to Priene and Miletus (via Akköy). Salihli too was accessible by train and made the perfect base for getting to Sardis. Had Alaşehir not had a station it’s unlikely that she would have gone there to see what are the very minor remains of the church of St John. Menemen too was on a rail route, otherwise it’s unlikely that Gertrude would have made it to Larissa. Without the station at Ortaklar it’s unlikely she would have made it to Magnesia ad Maeandrum either.

Sometimes it was possible to use the trains to make a day trip from İzmir as in the case with Ephesus, then as now the most popular place to visit in the area. Sometimes, as in the case of Söke, the station co-existed with a hotel. At other times, however, Gertrude had to stay with local families, just as iffy a business then as it is now as her diaries make plain.

(Top pic: Larissa; lower pic: Bergama)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s