Ephesus Ancient City
Ephesus ancient city is a well-established Ionian City located about 3 km southwest of Selçuk district of İzmir. According to the legend, the city was first founded by the Amazons, female warriors mentioned in Greek Mythology. It is thought to have taken its name from Apasas, a city of the Kingdom of Arzawa, which means ‘City of the Mother Goddess’.
Settlement traces in the area where it is located is dated to 6,000 BC. The city, which came under the rule of the Lydians, Persians, Alexander the Great, the Kingdom of Pergamum, Rome, Eastern Rome, Seljuks and the Ottomans, respectively, experienced its most magnificent period during the Roman Empire. Ephesus, the metropolitan city of the Romans opened to Asia, gradually became a very important commercial, political and religious center and its population increased to 250,000.
The city owes its greatest fame in Antiquity to the Temple of Artemis, dedicated to Artemis, the mother goddess Artemis, who was chosen as the protective goddess of the city, considered one of the 7 Wonders of the World. The temple, which rises on a thirteen-step catwalk, surrounded by a total of 127 marble columns, 150 meters long and 20 meters in length, has been burned and demolished many times throughout history for various reasons. Only a few pieces of marble have survived to the temple of Artemis, built in the 4th century BC and visited by Alexander the Great.
The city, which was a port city when it was founded, gradually loses its importance and is buried in the pages of history due to the alluviums carried by the Küçük Menderes River over the centuries filled the sea. The Ancient City of Ephesus, which is now located about 6 km inland from the sea, has waited to be unearthed under the ground for about 1,000 years before the start of the first excavations. Many important artifacts from the city, which emerged with the excavations initiated by the British in 1863, are exhibited in the British Museum today.
The view that Mother Mary, the mother of Jesus, lived and died in Ephesus in the last years of her life is widely accepted. The small church/house supposed to belong to it on the Nightingale Mountain, which the Ancient City of Ephesus gave its back, is considered a sacred place of pilgrimage by Christians. Visitors to Ephesus Ancient City are definitely recommended to see this place.
Today, most of the remains unearthed date from the glorious period of Rome. The main places to see in the city are the Library of Celsius, Hadrian’s Temple, Agora (Arcade), Prytaneion (Municipal Palace), Traianus Fountain, Grand Theater, Gymnasion and Stadium (Sports Center and Stadium), Slope Houses, Temple of Artemis, Temple of Domitianus, Memmius Monument and Odeon (Concert and Meeting Room).
Arcadiana Street: When you enter through the port gate, which is the main entrance of the city, you reach Arcadiana Street, which is 600 m long and 11 meters wide, with shops on the right and left. Also called port street, this big street makes its way to the center of the city and immediately extends to the Ancient Theater. Arcadia Street, which was once the main connection of the Ancient City of Ephesus with its port, now manages to reflect its former splendor, although not by the sea.
Ancient theater: St. Paul, one of the apostles of Jesus and enabled Christianity to spread in Anatolia during the Roman Period once peached here. This huge theater has a capacity of 25,000 people. It is known as the largest open-air theater of antiquity. Used for stage performances and important meetings, the Theater also hosted the Gladiator Wars during the Roman Period.
Celsus Library: It was built by his son in honor of the Roman statesman Celsus. The building rises above the burial chamber of Celsus. It is the 3rd largest library of Antiquity after the Pergamon Libraries in Alexandria and Bergama in Egypt, with more than 12,000 books (in rolls) written on parchment from different languages, beliefs and cultures. Although the architectural structure, which has become the symbol of Ephesus, looks two floors from the outside, it is planned as a very high ceiling and a single storey inside. The originals of 4 different sculptures in front of the Library symbolizing the virtues of Celsus are located in Vienna. The library’s book archive was badly damaged in the goth attacks in the 3rd century and almost all of the manuscript works were burned and destroyed.
Curetes Street ve Heracles Gate: According to Greek Mythology, Heracles (Hercules) is the son of Zeus. The gate, which divides the city in the Ancient City of Ephesus, is also called by this name due to the presence of reliefs symbolizing Hercules on it. The street that continues through the Heracles gate and ends in the Celsus Library is Curetes Street. This street is worth seeing with its right and left shops, temples, fountains, emperor statues and columnar road decorated with busts.
Terrace Houses: This multi-residential settlement, inhabited by the notables and rich of the city during the Roman period, was built on an area of 4,000 m2. The walls of these houses, where we can see the best examples of Peristil houses, are decorated with colorful paintings with their places covered with mosaics, have been carried very well to the present day and offer a great visual feast to their visitors. It is known that all houses have underfloor heating and hammam.
Hadrian Temple: The temple carried by four columns was built in honor of the Roman Emperor Hadrian. At the entrance to the temple are statues belonging to 4 different Roman Emperors. Again, at the entrance and in the wall reliefs in the pediment area, the founding story of Ephesus City is depicted.
Traianus Fountain: The monumental fountain built in honor of Emperor Traianus was once the most magnificent fountain in the city.
Skolastika Hammams: This is actually a complex consisting of a hammam, latrina and love house (general house). She is more known to be operated by a Roman woman named Skolastika. It is said that you can go to the general house by secret passage from both the hammam and the Celsus library.
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