The Sights of Ephesus

Map of Ephesus


The Gymnasium of Vedius

This gymnasium was built in 150 A.D. by Vedius Antonius, 4 wealthy citizen of Ephesus. According to an inscription discovered during excavations on the eastern facade of the building the gymnasium was dedicated to Artemis and the consul Antonius lfius. The most important of the chambers opening off the palaestra contained a cult statue of the emperor. A large number of statues were found, among them two sculptures of the river god now exhibited in the Izmir Archaeological Museum. The latrine is in a very good state of preservation.

Ephesus Stadium
The Ephesus stadium, which is located immediately to the south of the gymnasium, was built by the Emperor Nero (54-68 A.D.). The whole measures 228 x 38 m. , with the tiers of seats resting against the slope of Mt Panayir and the northern section of the cavea supported by vaults. The finds include a number of column capitals and roughly carved marble slabs. The building was later used as a quarry for building materials for use in the construction of the Byzantine castle, with the result that very little now remains.
The Ephesus stadium was used for chariot races, athletic displays and gladiatorial combats and marble reliefs depicting gladiators are displayed along the Marble Way. In the hilly terrain opposite the stadium a number of buildings of uncertain date have been unearthed.

These include a fish market, a Byzantine fountain and a funeral chamber thought to be that of Androcles, the legendary founder of the city. The Marble Way (Via tecta) connecting the Artemision to the centre of the city, passed by here. The stadium is now used for the camel wrestling competitions which have gradually become a traditional feature. Every year, in spring, visitors come from all over the country for the festivities taking place during the annual fair


Ephesus Arcadiane Way

This street, 600 m lonng and 11 m wide, was given this name after its restoration by the Emperor Arcadius (395-408). The main street of the city connecting the theatre land the surrounding area to the port, it was flanked by stoas with mosaic floors. These colonnades, whIch included a row of shops, served to protect the. inhabitants of the city from wind and rain in the winter and from the sun in the summer. Inscriptions oh four imposing Corinthian columns erected by the Emperor Justinian (525-566) indicate the existence of sculptures of the four Evangelists. An inscription in the theatre informs us that the street was illuminated by two rows of torches.

Ephesus Terrace Houses
Some of these houses were first opened to the public in 1985, when restoration work was completed. It has been proved that this sector was used for urban development from the 1st century B.C. onwards. The houses were the property of various owners until the 7th century. The district enjoyed its peak of prosperity between the 2nd and 4th centuries. These were one-storey houses occupied by wealthy citizens or priests of noble lineage and composed of spacious rooms grouped around an open-air courtyard, the largest being used as reception and dining-rooms. In addition to kitchens and cellar a large number of bed-rooms have been unearthed. Water was supplied by fountains surrounded by moisaics. Some of the walls reach a height of 4 m. stairs Ieading to the upper storeys have also beef unearthed. For flooring, mosaics went preferred to marble pavements but marble was frequently employed in tbe thresholds. Wall decorations consist mainly of painting on plaster. A visit to the terrace houses should be supplemented by a visit to the Archaeological Museum in Selcuk in which a very rich collection of murals, furniture and utensils are exhibited.

Ephesus Temple of Hadrian
This Corinthian temple dates from the 2nd century but underwent repairs in the 4th and has recently been re-erected from the surviving architectural fragments. The reliefs in the upper sections are casts, the originals being now exhibited in the Selcuk Archaeological Museum. The temple is a veritable miracle, a peerless specimen of Roman architecture. A number of interesting figures are depicted in the reliefs, including the Emperor Theodosius I, his wife and eldest son, the Emperor Arcadius accompanied by the goddess Athena (depicted at both ends of the block), Artemis of Ephesus and Androcles stalking a wild boar. In front of the facade stood statues of four important emperors, Diocletian, Constantine, Maximian and Galerius). The pediment with its lacelike carving is adorned with a relief bust of the goddess Tyche. The entrance door is surrounded by an egg design and surmounted by a large Medusa relief.

Ephesus Monument of Memmius
This monument was erected by the dictator Sulla in 86 B.C. as a symbol of Roman authority in Ephesus. The Ephesians lent support to Mithridates, king of Pontus, in his attempt to conquer the region in defiance of Rome. Having achieved his aim, he ordered a massacre of all Roman citizens in the region, in which, according to some sources, as many as 80,000 perished in a single night. This monument was erected as a memorial of this event.
Fountain of Pollio
This fountain, which dates from the 1st century A.D., was dedicated to Sextilius Pollio, who was responsible for the construction of the Mamas aqueduct. It has a concave facade. A sculpture group depicting one of the adventures of Ulysses discovered here was repaired and is now exhibited in the local museum.
Roman Bourse or double church of the Virgin Mary
This Roman building is dated to the 2nd century A.D. It is a three-aisled church measuring 265 x 90 m. Until its conversion into a church in the 4th century A.D. it performed a secular function. Its proximity to the harbour allowed important commercial goods to be marketed here without the necessity of transporting them into the city itself. The Byzantine church was added to the western side.
Austrian archaeologists are engaged here in endeavours to locate the site of the bishop’s palace. The church itself housed the third Ecumenical counsil at which the divine character of Christ and the Virgin Mary was discussed. Nestorius (380-451), the founder of the school of Antioch and the Patriarchate of Istanbul, put’ forward the view opposing the divine nature of Christ and regarding Mary not as the mother of God but as the mother of a human being. The Alexandrian school, on the other hand, put foward the more mystical, more traditional view that Mary was the mother of God and in the end Nestorius was exiled. Ephesus thus became one of the most important centres of the Christian world and the reverence for the Virgin Mary at Ephesus was greatly increased.

The so called Robber Council of 449 accepted the thesis of the purely divine nature of Christ in which his human character was completely ignored. This doctrine was later in the East as Monophysitism.

The Gate of Mazaeus and Mithridates
This gate, built almost entirely of marble, was dedicated in 3 B.C. to Augustus and his son-in-law Agrippa by two rich freedmen of the city Mazeus and Mithridates. These two imposing gates leading into the agora constitute the finest example of restoration work carried out in recent years.
Ephesus Marble Way
The Marble Way connects the theatre to the Library of Celsus. It assumed its present-day appearance during the 5th century A.D. Drains were installed throughout the whole length of the street in the form of lower galleries. A few reliefs on the ground on the right hand side indicate the city brothel. The reliefs include a left foot, the portrait of a woman and a heart decorated with perforations. They are surrounded by an iron railing.
Ephesus The Street of the Curetes
This street runs from the Library of Celsus to the Gate of Hercules and thence to the Odeon. On the right, work is in progress on the Gate of Hadrian. In the same road a burial chamber, known as the “Octagon” has been discovered containing the bones of a young woman of about twenty years of age. The building itself has been dated to the 1st century, but marble slabs dating from the 4th century contain inscriptions recording the repairs carried out by the administrators Eutropius and Festus between the years 358 and 368.
Ephesus Temple of Domitian
A member of the Flavian dynasty, Domitian became Emperor in 81 A.D. At first an honest administrator he later became an tyrannical despot, proclaiming himself “Lord and God” (Dominus et Deus). Assassinated with the connivance of his wife Domitia, his memory was damned by decree of the senate (Damnatio memoriae) and all his statues destroyed. Erected on a pseudodipteral plan with 8 x 13 columns, it was one of the largest temples in the city. A colossal statue was discovered here consisting of an arm with clenched fist made from a single piece of marble and a very well-preserved head. The temple and statue in Ephesus are of particularly great importance in view of the very few remains connected with Domitian.
Originally built in the 1st century B.C. it was in the form of an open-air market­ place measuring 110 x 110 ill. Repaired by the Emperor Caracalla at the beginning of the 3rd century, it was reduced to more or less the state we see it in today by a great earthquake in the 4th century. The largest centre of commerce in the city, foodstuffs and all sorts of manufactured goods were bought and sold here. The shops were arranged along the colonnades and opened into vaulted storerooms at the back. A water clock and sundial were placed in the middle of the agora.
Library of Celsus
Although the building is of a mainly cultural character it is also a funerary monument. After the death of Celsus Polemaenus, a former consul who had been appointed governor of Ephesus, his son erected a magnificent reading room over his tomb. The building, which dates from the 2nd century, was attacked by fire in 260 but the facade suffered no damage. It is 21 m wide and 16 m high. Equestrian statues stood on pedestals on each side of the main staircases and there are also indications that statues were placed in the niches on the upper floor. The main room measures 16 x 10 m. The burial chamber under the ground floor contains a sarcophag s in an excellent state of preservation. Excavations carried out by Austrian archaJologists at the beginning of the 20th century revealed a 4th century fountain in the front courtyard and very valuable carvings in high relief depicting the wars waged by Marcus Aurelius and ucius Verus against the Parthians. Advantage was taken of legal loopholes existirig at the time of the excavations to transfer these reliefs, together with four female statues from the facade of the library, to the Kunsthistorische Museum in Vienna.
The monumental facade as it stands today is the result of restoration work begun in the 1970s. Lead plates are placed at the top and bottom of the columns and the whole given a play of 50 cm capable of withstanding a 9 degree earthquake on the east-west axis. A perforation of 10 cm has been made in each of the columns and iron inserted. While work was in progress on the front facade an unknown aspect of Roman architecture was discovered in the form of a curve starting from zero at the bottom of the stairs and reaching 4.5 cm at the bases of the columns. This curve reaches 10 cm in converse fashion, a feature which until now was thought to have existed only in Greek architecture. This expedient is known to have been employed in order to increase the monumental effect over an area 21 m in width. Restoration of the building was completed and the whole opened to the public in 1978.
Ephesus Brothel
The whole of the present-day complex dates from the 4th century. Situated immediately opposite the Library of Celsus, It consists of rooms and salons grouped around a courtyard measuring 20.5 x 20.5 m. A narrow section gives access to the rooms and salons. On the left hand side of the entrance there was a section in which visitors wiped the mud and dust from their clothes. The houses are adorned with rich and interesting mosaics: The beautiful women are known to have been intellectual and well-educated and, besides enjoying priviliges unknown to the ordinary Roman woman, such as being able to own their own houses and take part in demonstrations and elections, they also had the right to choose their own customers.
Ephesus Scholasticia Baths

These baths date from the 1st century A.D. but were restored and enlarged in the 5th century by a wealthy woman by the name of Scholasticia. The hot room remains in a fairly good state of preservation and the well-preserved statue of the wealthy founder stands on the entrance terrace.

Ephesus Fountain of Trajan
Erected in the 2nd century, it has undergone partial repair. On the front facade there was a life-size statue of Trajan of which only fhe right foot and a portion of the torso has survived. A sculpture depicting two reclining satyrs and a statue of Aphrodite discovered here are now exhibited in the local museum. It is a two-storey structure 12 m in height surrounding the pool in front on three sides.
Ephesus Gate of Hercules
This is dated to the end of the 4th or the beginning of the 5th century. A block adorned with a relief of Nike, the goddess of victory, now located a little further on, originally stood at this gate, which consists of two blocks of stone with a relief depicting the combat of Hercules and the Nemaean lion. On the terrace immediately to the left of the gate there is a four-columned Hellenistic fountain.
Ephesus Theatre
The theatre is built against the slope of Mt Panayir. It has now lost most of its imposing decoration. It was one of the largest theatres in the Aegean world, measuring 60 m from the floor of the stage to the top of the galleries. The cavea consists of three sections. The auditorium held 24,000 spectators with another thousand in the vaulted galleries, making up a total capacity of over 25,000. Massive alterations to the original auditorium would appear to have been undertaken during the reign of Claudius and completed under the Emperor Trajan.
The tiers of seats were later used as spolia in the construction of other buildings. The first and second storeys of the stage building were constructed during the reign of Nero (54-68), while the third storey was constructed during the reign of Septimus Severus (193-211). The stage facade was adorned with niches, columns, reliefs and statues. The stage was at a height of 2.70 m above the orchestra and was reached by ramps on the left and right.
Temple of Serapis
This temple dates from the 2nd century and was dedicated to Serapis, one of the Egyptian gods. It is of considerable importance as evidence of the atmosphere of tolerance that existed in Ephesus, the cosmopolitan character of whose population allowed the proliferation of a number of different religious beliefs. It is built in the Corinthian order, with marble of very high quality, and is remarkable for the size of its monolithic columns, some of them rising to a height of 12 ill. A door opening on rollers gives access to a long cult chamber in which a statue of Egyptian granite is thought to have stood. Some of the monolithic blocks weigh over 50 tonnes. It would appear to have been left unfinished. There are no inscriptions.
Ephesus Latrine
This is in a very good state of preservation. It originally consisted of a semi-covered rectangular area surrounded by columns with marble and bronze statues in the centre and a pool affording ventilation. The room is surrounded by a row of marble seats with a marble conduit below it allowing a flow of water. The floor was covered with mosaics and the walls with marble panels. Use of the latrine was restricted to men, who paid a fee on entrance. Public latrines were built in order to obtain the uric acid used in tanning sheep and goatskins in the tanneries opened by the Emperor Vespasian.
Ephesus Prytaneion
Known as a place of worship dedicated to Artemis Boulaea, the Prytaneion was built during the reign of the Emperor Augustus, underwent repairs in the 3rd century and was destroyed at the end of the 4th. Here was to be found an urban sanctuary consisting of a square chamber paved with black and white marble containing an altar in a niche in front of which stood a figurine of the goddess Hestia, while the courtyard contained a statue of Athena. Here, too, burned the eternal flame symbolising the life of the city. The large building consisted of a courtyard surrounded by porticos containing rooms and chambers, the colonnaded courtyard opening into a rectangular chamber with a roof supported by four Corinthian columns, three of which have survived. The building also had a secular function. The city administrators, foreign guests and local philanthropists would gather here to dine together. The famous statue of Artemis as goddess of plenty now exhibited in the museum was discovered here in absolutely perfect condition.
Ephesus State Agora
Investigations have shown that until the 4th century A,D, tL site of the agora, where it was the custom to hold all types of political activity (elections, meetings, demonstrations, etc.), was occupied by a cemetery through whidh ran the sacred way. In the western sebion of this rectangular structure, three sides of which are surrounded by rows of columns, excavations have revealed the foundations of a 1st century temple dedicated to the cult of Isis. Between the state agora and the odeum lies a three¬≠aisled roofed structure 160 m in length, known as the Basilica. This is surrounded by three rows of columns with Corinthian and Ionic capitals adorned with bull’s heads. This was used as the city bourse where money-lenders and bankers would meet to exchange money. It was completely destroyed at the end of the 6th century.Beyond the state aaora stands the Magnesian Gate, by which one leaves the ruins of Ephesus. Erected during the reign of Vespasian (69-79), in the form of a victory arch, this marks the beginning of the city walls surrounding the Panayir and Bulbul hills. On the left as you leave the gate you will see the eastern gymnasium, generally known as the WOMEN’S GYMNASIUM built by the Sophist Domianus and his wife Veda Faetrina in the 3rd century A.D. Excavations yielded a number of statues of young women providing very important evidence regarding the education of girls in ancient times. This is further corroborated by the inclusion of the name of a woman among the founders.
Ephesus Odeum – Odeon
This building in the form of a small theatre was built in the 2nd century at around the same time and by the same people, namely Varius Antonius and his wife Flavia Papiona, as the baths beside it. It differs from the theatre in function, being used for meetings of the municipal council and concerts. It also differed from the theatre in being roofed by a wooden awning providing protection from sun and rain. It had seating for between 1500 and 2000. The first five tiers above the orchestra are original, with the stairs adorned with lion’s paws in a very good state of preservation. An extraordinarily beautiful head of Eros found in the orchestra area is now exhibited in the Selcuk Museum.
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