Ephesus is the largest ancient city in the Mediterranean and a reflection of the glory days of the Roman Empire. An architectural masterpiece settlement that has inspired archaeologists, enlightened historians, and distracted travelers from the present.
Ephesus Ancient City is a long-established Ionian City located 3 km southwest of Selcuk district of Izmir. According to legend, the city was founded for the first time by Amazons, female warriors mentioned in Greek Mythology. It is thought that the city took its name from Apasas, a city of the Kingdom of Arzawa, which means "City of the Mother Goddess."
The settlement traces in the area where it is located are dated to 6,000 BC. The city, which was dominated by Lydians, Persians, Alexander the Great, Pergamon Kingdom, Rome, Eastern Rome, Seljuks and Ottomans, lived its most magnificent period during the Roman Empire. Ephesus, the metropolitan city of Romans opening to Asia, gradually became a very important commercial, political and religious center and its population rises up to 250.000.
The city owes its greatest fame in the Ancient Age to the Temple of Artemis, which is considered one of the 7 Wonders of the World and dedicated to the mother goddess Artemis, who was chosen as the protector goddess of the city. The temple, which rises on a 13-stepped podium, surrounded by a total of 127 marble columns of 150 meters in length and 20 meters in height, has been burned down and destroyed for various reasons throughout history. Only a few marble fragments of the Temple of Artemis, which was built in the 4th century BC and visited by Alexander the Great, have survived.
The city, which was a port city when it was founded, gradually loses its importance and is buried in history pages for centuries due to the alluviums carried by the Kucuk Menderes River filling the sea. The ancient city of Ephesus, which is now 6 km inland from the sea, waited for approximately 1,000 years to be unearthed under the ground before the first excavations started. Many important artifacts from the city, which were unearthed with excavations initiated by the British in 1863, are exhibited in the British Museum today.
It is widely accepted that the mother of Jesus, Saint Mary, lived and died in Ephesus in the last years of her life. The small church/house, which is supposed to belong to her, on the Bulbul Mountain, on which the ancient city of Ephesus has its back, is considered a sacred pilgrimage place by Christians. Visitors to the Ancient City of Ephesus are definitely recommended to see this place.
Today, most of the remains that have just been unearthed are from the magnificent period of Rome. The most important places to see in the city are the Celsius Library, the Temple of Hadrian, the Agora (Bazaar), the Prytaneion (Town Hall), the Traianus Fountain, the Great Theater, the Gymnasion and the Stadion (Sports Center and Stadium), the Terrace Houses, the Temple of Artemis, the Temple of Domitian, the Memmius. Monument and Odeon (Concert and Meeting Hall).
When you enter through the port gate, which is the main entrance of the city, you will see Arcadiana Street, which is 600 meters long and 11 meters wide, with shops on both sides. This great street, also known as the harbor street, leads towards the city center and at the end reaches the Ancient Theater. Arcadia Street, once the main link with the harbor of the ancient city of Ephesus, now manages to reflect its former glory, even if it is not by the sea.
This gigantic theater, where St. Paul, one of the apostles of Jesus and who helped spread Christianity in Anatolia during the Roman period, once preached, has a capacity of 25,000 people. It is known as the largest open-air theater of the ancient period. Used for stage shows and important meetings, the Theater also hosted the Gladiator Wars in the Roman Period.
Library of Celsus
It was built by his son in honor of the Roman statesman Celsus. The building rises above Celsus' burial chamber. With more than 12,000 books (in rolls) written on parchment from different languages, beliefs and cultures, it is the third largest library in the Ancient Age after the Pergamon Library and Alexandria Library in Egypt. The architectural structure, which has become the symbol of Ephesus, appears to be two-storey from the outside, but has a very high ceiling and a single-storey interior. Originals of 4 different sculptures symbolizing the virtues of Celsus and located in front of the library are in Vienna. The library's book archive was heavily damaged during the Goth attacks in the 3rd century, and almost all of the manuscripts were burned down.
Curetes Street and Hercules Gate
According to Greek Mythology, Heracles is the son of Zeus. The gate, which divides the city into two in the ancient city of Ephesus, is known by this name because of the reliefs symbolizing Hercules. The street that continues through Heracles gate and ends at the Celsus Library is Curetes Street. This street is worth seeing with its right and left shops, temples, fountains, emperor statues and colonnaded road decorated with busts.
This multi-residential settlement, where the city's notables and rich people lived in the Roman period, was built on an area of 4,000 square meters. These houses, where we can see the most beautiful examples of peristyle houses (with courtyards), the places covered with mosaics and the walls decorated with colorful pictures have been carried to the present day and offer a great visual feast to its visitors. It is known that all houses have underfloor heating and Turkish baths.
Temple of Hadrian
The temple, carried by four columns, was built in honor of the Roman Emperor Hadrianus. There are statues of 4 different Roman Emperors at the entrance of the temple. The foundation story of Ephesus City is depicted on the wall reliefs at the entrance and the pediment area.
The monumental fountain built in honor of Emperor Trajan was once the city's most magnificent fountain.
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