The House of the Virgin Mary is actually in Turkey, its about 26 km (34 min drive) from Ephesus/Kusudasi Port, located on Mount Koressos (or Mount Nightingale). Typically tour guides can take you from the port to the shrine, where hundreds of both Christian/Catholic & Islamic pilgrims alike come to see the house where Mary spent her last days. Built in the 4th Century AD, a church, combining her house and grave have been built there. There are two areas within the church for both Christians to worship, and Muslims to worship as well. I thought this was very thoughtful, to allow two religions to worship in their own way and own time.
Just outside this church you find a wall covered in cloth, I thought it was handkerchiefs to wipe tears away and for a moment mistook it for the Wailing Wall (which is actually in Israel). But this is actually called the ‘Wishing Wall’, where you can come and place a piece of cloth with a prayer on it, hoping that the Virgin Mary will supplicate your cause to God on your behalf. I think seeing all the hopes, dreams, wishes, and prayers from pilgrims all over the world placed on this wall made me sad in a way. There is a lot going on in this world, and that which is most painful often happens inside the home. To have an area like this, where I think even writing your wishes/hopes/prayers down, can be therapeutic in a way. I stared at this wall for quite some time, feeling like I was intruding on someone’s private life if I touched any of the prayer cloths. Instead just stood back and observed those putting their prayer cloths on the wishing wall, the way that you could feel the people here pouring their heart into it, it gives this place a very special feeling.
Just next to that you will find the Sacred Fountain of the “Water of Mary”, where some believe that this water has powerful healing properties, and can aid in fertility. Be forewarned it is quite salty, but all are welcome to drink it, make sure to bring your own cup or water bottle if you would like to try any. The water here is actually to also have been a small stream that flowed into the home, like most traditional homes of that time, that is to believed to have flowed in the same room as where the Virgin Mary use to sleep within the home, which is why some believe in its healing properties.
This shrine, although has never been pronounced as an official site of the Virgin Mary, has received 3 different Papal blessings. It is interesting to know though, that the people of the nearby village of Sirince, are descended from the early Christians of Ephesus & have long since venerated the site. The people of this village actually call the doorway, the Panaya Kapulu, or the “Doorway to the Virgin”. So make of that what you will, but all in all, it is nice to let your mind wander and think that someone who lived during the time of Christ was here, and indeed may have been the Virgin Mary.