Today, I was reminded of the beauty of the amphitheater and library in the ancient city of Ephesus in modern Izmir Province, Turkey.
1. There are actually two Smyrnas, named Old Smyrna (founded in 11th century BC) and New Smyrna (reestablished by Alexander — at least, it was his idea, of course — in 4th century BC), respectively (they worked hard on the names).
2. Homer (author of The Iliad and The Odyssey) was born in Smyrna! (well, maybe. 6 other cities lay claim to the ancient poet, but many think Smyrna is his likely hometown)
3. “New Smyrna” became part of the Roman Empire around 195 BC, and more than likely had a significant Jewish population. Setting the cultural groundwork for the Gospel to spread through the activity of the Apostle Paul
4. Smyrna is one of the seven churches addressed in the beginning chapters of the book of Revelation. The church more than likely was planted through the ministry based in Ephesus. It seems that when John wrote to them the church was experiencing persecution, but the Apostle John reminds them of the promise of the resurrection and that they will not be affected by the second death
“‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. 11 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.”
5. Polycarp (AD 69-155) was the Bishop of Smyrna until he was burned at the stake and stabbed when the fire didn’t finish the job. Multiple church fathers (Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Jerome) all make reference to Polykarp being a disciple of the Apostle John, and even being ordained by John as Bishop of Smyrna.
6. Polycarp seemed to have read the letter from John and taken heed of it throughout his life. He was “faithful unto death.” This is evidenced by the reply he gave those who were to burn him at the stake:
“For eighty and six years I have served him, and he has done me no wrong. How then can I blaspheme my King who saved me? You threaten with the fire that burns for a hour and then is quenched; for you do not know of the fire of the judgment to come, and the fire of the eternal punishment, reserved for the ungodly. But why are you delaying? Bring what you will!”
7. Because Polycarp had a direct relationship with an Apostle (John), his understanding and teaching of scripture and doctrine was highly regarded throughout the Christian church and he is credited with helping the church on a path of orthodoxy when heretics like Marcion and the Gnostic Valentinus were running rappant.
8. Polycarp wrote his “Letter to the Philippians” while Bishop of Smyrna. This letter is of utmost importance, not just for the sound doctrine and encouragement found within, but because Polycarp makes many references to New Testament books which helps in the field of textual criticism and in understanding canonization of the New Testament.
“Stand fast, therefore, in this conduct and follow the example of the Lord, ‘firm and unchangeable in faith, lovers of the brotherhood, loving each other, united in truth,’ helping each other with the mildness of the Lord, despising no man” (Polycarp, Letter to the Philippians).
9. Smyrna is thought to be the hometown of the church father Irenaeus. Tradition states that Irenaeus heard Polycarp speak when he was a young man. Irenaeus is also thought to have grown up in a Christian home, perhaps the first church father to have come to faith as a child.
10. Smyrna got rocked by a massive earthquake in 178 AD and was rebuilt by Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (who was likely partly responsible for the martyrdoms of Polycarp and Irenaeus).
|| Old Smyrna ||
|| New Smyrna ||
Another historical church has been discovered underground during excavations in Turkey’s Cappadocia region, with experts saying the frescoes inside could change the history of Orthodoxy
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A couple weeks ago I shared how excited I was for the Istanbul Coffee Festival. Well, it has come and gone, and I must say, I was very impressed. As my wife and I walked up to Haydrapasa Station in Istanbul we were greeted with the sweet aroma of dozens of roasters and baristas working fervently to brew a cup that appeals to all senses.
Appealing to All Senses: There is something more to coffee than its caffeine stimulus and its action on the taste buds of the tongue and mouth. The sense of smell and the sense of sight play important roles. To get all the joy there is in a cup of coffee, it must look good and smell good, before one can pronounce its taste good. It must woo us through the nostrils with the wonderful aroma that constitutes much of the lure of coffee. – William H. Ukers (All About Coffee)
Unfortunately, I can’t share the aroma through this medium, but I can share the sights.
The Haleplibahçe mosaic exhibit opened up in Sanliurfa, Turkey in June 2015 and now stands alongside the biggest museum and is a part of the biggest museum complex in Turkey. It has impressed all who’ve had the pleasure to visit this massive complex. Today, we will feature some of the best of the mosaic exhibit.
Opening at the beginning of June, the museum development covers a 200,000 square metre area set within the path of the dried up Karakoyun river bed and includes an “Archaeology Park”, ornamental gardens with fountains and a plaza in which there are two significant buildings. The main archaeological museum building encompasses 60,000 square metres over three floors, houses archaeological finds from across the region along with interactive displays, film and lecture theatres and activity centres. The building is thoroughly modern in concept, has full wheelchair access throughout and takes the visitor through the entire history of the Sanliurfa region starting with the Neolithic and Chalcolithic periods and progresses through Hittite, Babylonian, Persian, Ancient Greek, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Islamic and Ottoman periods.
There can be no mistaking that this new mosaic museum at Haleplibahçe, (along with it’s counterpart museum which features items from Göbekli Tepe, Nevali Çori, and more…post coming soon) is at the center of the history, and the future, of Sanliurfa, Turkey.
In Kadıköy, on Istanbul’s Anatolia side, proudly stands Haydarpaşa train station. The Guide Istanbul describes Haydarpaşa train station as once being “one of the busiest train stations in the world, connecting the Orient Express line from Europe to the Baghdad-Hijaz railway of the Middle East. The station’s castle-like German architecture contrasts with the Oriental tiles inside, giving a perfect historical atmosphere for the world’s most innovative coffee providers.” Pretty intriguing description, one that makes this year’s Istanbul Coffee Festival exciting for more than being a coffee festival, which is exciting enough.
The 2015 Istanbul Coffee Festival will be Turkey’s (perhaps Eurasia’s) largest gathering of third-wave coffee enthusiasts – professionals, owners, roasters, connoisseurs, baristas, and newbies included. What is “third-wave coffee”, you ask? Esquire answers that in the most entertaining way.
As a way to celebrate and prepare for the festival (I get to go this year!), I’d like to introduce you to some of my favorite (and I think the best) coffee specialists, roasters, and shops in Turkey.
Kronotrop – When it opened in 2012 it was one of the first specialty coffee roasters in Istanbul, and all of Turkey for that matter (Çekirdek being the other shop laying claim to breaking ground first. Unfortunately, I’ve not been able to visit this shop yet). Kronotrop recently moved from the Taksim area of Istanbul to the heart of the historical sites of the city in Eminonu. So right after you go see the 1,500 year old museum/church/mosque (Hagia Sophia), go on down and get some good coffee.
Coffeetopia – Just around the corner from Krontrop you’ll find Coffeetopia. Specialty coffee in Turkey wouldn’t be where it is today if it where not for Şerif and Özlem Başaran. As a certified WBC Technical Judge, and owner of Coffee Factory, which provides beans to other shops in Turkey, Şerif has influence throughout the Turkish and European coffee world. This is there first retail venture and they are doing it right.
Petra Coffee – Petra has a small kiosk in Istanbul, but the place to try their coffee is in the Tuscany style beach town of Alaçatı. Petra came flying onto the coffee scene and made a big splash, they took fourth place last year at the World Coffee Roasting Championship in Rimini, Italy. But there is no specialty roaster with a space like they have in Alaçatı. A village beach town where everything moves slowly is the perfect place to try their cold brew on a hot summer’s day.
Brew Lab – Being led by Turkish Barista and Latte Art champion Özkan Yetik and being located on the most famous street in Turkey gives this coffee shop an edge, but the amazing coffee seals the deal. Featuring the likes of Japanese iced coffee and fun with siphons they are sure to please
Two Cups Coffee – For years the coffee scene in Turkey has only been represented in Istanbul. Thankfully over the last year Izmir has seen an influx of 3-5 specialty coffee shops (with Petra being close by in Alaçatı) – since I live here, I am especially grateful. On the top of my list is Two Cups. Located in the hip neighborhood of Alsancak, Two Cups is owned and operated by Tolga Onder. While I haven’t had the chance to try my favorite coffee (Ethiopian Kochere) I’ve been wonderfully satisfied by their Guatemalan and Honduras roasts. I’m even more excited that they are only a short ferry ride away.
While the Third Wave Coffee scene has yet to hit all the corners of Turkey, the Istanbul Coffee Festival is evidence of specialty coffee’s growing popularity and success.