Skip to Main Content
+90 536 665 22 67
History of Ephesus
Chronology of Ephesus
Location of Ephesus
History of Ephesus
Chronology of Ephesus
Location of Ephesus
The most important places of defense in a city are certainly its walls and gates. Until the period which we call the Roman Peace (Pax Romana) (the 2nd-3rd centuries AD) the gates and walls of cities were constructed strongly and magnificently in Anatolia.
With the ending of the Roman Peace the old tradition was continued again. Three important gates of Ephesus are known: the Harbour Gate, the Coressus Gate and the Magnesia Gate.The Corressus Gate has not yet been found. The Magnesia Gate stands on the east side of the city. It is the starting point of important roads which lead to the city of Magnesia, about 30 kilometres distant from this gate, and then, bending into Caria towards Tralles (Aydin), into Anatolia. It was named Magnesia after the first city. Lying 2-3 metres below the ground, it was excavated and partly uncovered.
Ephesus East Gymnasium :
The Girls’ Gymnasium has been named after the female statues that adorned it during ancestry. The Gymnasium of Ephesus was located near the Magnesia Gate, on Pin Mountain and it was built in the 2nd century AD, by (according to an inscription) Flavius Damianus and his wife Vedia Phaedrina. It was one of the largest buildings of Ephesus where young boys were educated and exercised.
The Gymnasium consisted of classrooms and baths, a courtyard and other rooms. The female statues of the Gymnasium are exposed at the Museum of Izmir.
Bath of Varius :
The bath was first built during the Hellenistic age, around the 2nd century A.D, and was restored several times throughout the centuries. The multiple restorations are a major reason for the building’s unique look.
The famous sophist Flavius Damianus built the bath. A private room was built for Damianus and his wife. Ephesus Vedius Antonius, the daughter of a rich citizen, and Vedia Faedrina also had a room added to the Varius Baths. This would have been a great mark of status as Romans valued personal hygiene and would have used these baths on a regular basis.
The original building had its north and east walls carved from natural outcroppings of rock. Resting, sitting and reading rooms which were added throughout the 2nd century.
These were restored and new rooms were added in later centuries. In the Fourth Century renovations were funded by a rich Christian lady called Scholastica. Then in the 5th century the building underwent major alterations to reflect the Byzantine Period and its influence on interior decoration. The most obvious evidence of these changes is the 40 meter long corridor covered with mosaics. The final design of the bath is classical Roman, with the caldarium (hot section), the tepidarium (warm section) and the frigidarium (cold section).
Agoras were places where people gathered. Ephesus such a big city had 2 agoras. One is used for political reasons the other one served as a market place for commercial reasons.
The State Agora which also today known as the Political Agora was a vast public square laid out and remodeled during the reign of Augustus (27 BC-14 AD). It was a public area where people gathered for political and social reasons. It was bordered by stoas on three sides and decorated with sculptures. Stoas were one side wall one side collonaded roofed structures, providing shelter during rainy days and hot summer days. In these stoas some days philosphers were giving courses to their pupils. In the center there was a temple dedicated to the Egyptian godess Isis, built for the visit of Marcus Antonius and Cleaopatra in 42BC. Pink granite columns are the remains of the temple dedicated to Isis. Since there are no quarries in Anatolia for pink granite. The pink granite pieces seen are the proves of a relation between Egypt and Ephesus. All major laws and decisions were voted in this chamber.
The Market Basilica was a 160 m long arcade, to the north of the State Agora. Initially, it consisted of Ionic order columns, dividing the arcade into three naves. During Augustus’s Empire, the columns changed to the Corinthian order. It was connected with Various Bath via three gates to a stoa towards the Bath.This basilica was used for commercial activities as well as for meetings of the law courts.
The Market Basilica of Ephesus city was erected in the 1st century AD, during the reign of Augustus. Statues of the Emperor Augustus and his wife, Livia, were brought to light at the east side of the basilica. Nowadays, they are hosted at the Museum of Ephesus.
This building has the shape of a small theatre with a stage building, seating places and the orchestra. It had two functional uses. First it was used as a Bouleuterion for the meetings of the Boulea or the Senate. The second function was the Odeum – a concert hall for performances. It was constructed in the 2nd century AD by the order of Publius Vedius Antonius and his wife Flavia paiana, two wealthy citizens of Ephesus.
It had a capacity of 1400 spectators and had 3 doors opening from the stage to the podium. The podium was narrow and one meter higher than the orchestra section. The stage building was two-storeyed and embellished with columns. The podium in front of the stage building and some parts of the seating have been restored. The Odeon used to be enclosed with a wooden roof.
The Prytaneion of Ephesus
The Prytaneion was an administrative building consisted of a courtyard, on the front side and a large hall to the back. Hestia’s sacred flame had been placed in the middle of the yard, which was guarded by the priests of the goddess, known as Curettes, as the flame should never go out. They were chosen every year and they were supposed to come from the most privileged families of ancient Ephesus city and apart from their prior duty concerning the flame, they also were in charge of the sacrifices that were made to the gods.
The Curettes used to involve only with the Temple of Artemis during the Roman period. This changed when the Emperor Augustus came to throne, so the Curettes were occupied with the Prytanium of Ephesus.
According to the mythology, the Curetes were semi-dieties who recreated the birth of Artemis from Ephesus. After the mother of Artemis, Leto, having coupled with Zeus, she would give birth to the twins; Artemis and Apollo. The Curetes were said to have used their weapons in order to make a lot of noise so that Hera, who wanted revenge Leto, get confused and not pay attention to the birth of Leto’s children.
The Pretaneion consisted also of rooms used as administrative offices and as the archives of the city and a dining room for the official visitors. Two out of the eight columns of the front side of the building have survived nowadays.
Domitian Temple; gave its name to this area. It was the first temple to be built in the name of an emperor (81 – 96A.D.) and located next to the Domitian Square . The Polio Fountain and Memmius Monument stands opposite of each other.
The Polio Fountain was situated on its left side of this temple. Water brought by aqueducts is distributed from this fountain by a branching system of baked clay pipes. Richly decorated sculpture from the Hellenistic period was excavated there. The sculpture depicts Odysseus while he was blinding Polyphemus (cyclops) in order to escape from his cave.
Memmius Monument :
The monument was erected to the memory of soldier Memmius, the son of Caius and grandson of him. Sightseeing in Ephesus – Ephesus Memmius Monument, Ephesus Tour, Ephesus Guide, Ephesus Reservation, Ephesus Reviewsf Dictator Sulla of Roma, in the 1st century A.D. It was dedicated to Memmius due to one of his military victories.
The Memmius Monument is located to the north of Curettes Road across the Domitian Square.
It is a four sided victory arch. There are three stairs between the columns which hold the arch and the ground. In fact some of the inscriptions were lost or used for repair of the other buildings around, it is still well documented that the monument was built to the memory of Memmius.
This Monument is situated on the north side of the Domitian Square. It was constructed during the reign of Augustus in the 1st century A.D by Memmius, the grand son of dictator Sulla. One can see the figures of his fatheSightseeing in Ephesus – Ephesus Memmius Monument, Ephesus Tour, Ephesus Guide, Ephesus Reservation, Ephesus Reviewsr and grandfather on the blocks today. The structure has four facades, in the 4th century A.D, a square fountain was built on the northwest facade.
Dictator Sulla was a hero for the Romans in Ephesus. When the taxes were too high in Ephesus they were fed up with the yoke of Rome. They needed a miracle and it was Mithridates of the Pontic Empire on the Black Sea Coast. His famous motto was Asia for Asiatic. He killed 80,000 Romans with his army. Three years after his revolt, the Roman army, under the command of Sulla, conquered Mithridates and brought security. This monument was built to remind this conquer in 87BC.
TheHercules Gate ; can easily be identified by two reliefs of Hercules wearing lion’s skin. The pillars date from the 2C AD but were taken there to be used in the construction of a narrow gate house only in the 6C AD having originally stood elsewhere. The gate was made narrow to prevent wheeled vehicles which came from the Magnesian Gate going into the city.
Curetes Street :
It is one of the three main streets of Ephesus between The Hercules Gate till to the Celsus Library.This street took its name from the priests who were called as Curetes later.Their names were written in Prytaneion.
There were fountains, monuments, statues and shops on the sides of the street. The shops on the south side were two-storied. Ephesus had many earthquakes, in which many structures including the Curetes Street were damaged. These damages especially on the columns were restored by the new ones, but after the earthquake in the 4th century, the columns were replaced by the other ones brought from different buildings in the city. The differences between the design of the columns can be seen today. The street has its appearance from the 4th century.
There were also many houses on the slope.These were used by the rich of Ephesians.Under the houses there were colonnaded galleries with mosaics on the floor were located in front of the shops with a roof to protect the pedestrians from sun or rain.
Fountain of Trajan is a 2nd century AD building with two stories built by an Ephesian in memory of the Emperor Trajan. Trajan was the Roman Emperor who ruled Roman Empire in the 2nd century. In his time Roman Empire was in its peak time. In front of the building there was a pool with water flowing from beneath the colossal statue of Trajan. Trajan was depicted as left foot on the ground, right foot on a ball. Saying “I am the ruler of the world. The world is under my foot.” Left foot of his statue can still be seen today. The ball under the foot symbolizing the world. In the 17th century Galilieo period, Europe was not sure if the world had a round shape. Galileo was banned because of his ideas. Aristotales knew that the world had sphere shape in 225BC. During that time Erathostenes calculated the diameter of the World. Philosopher Thales calulated Solar eclipse in 585BC, probably he knew that the world was round too. Statues of other emperors, gods and heroes stood in niches. Some of these are displayed in the museum today. The facade of the building is highly ornate with Corinthian columns on the upper storey and Composite columns on the lower. Composite colums were a combination of Ionic and Corinthian colums. Very popular in the 2nd century.
Temple of Hadrian:
The Hadrian Temple was built in the 2nd century AD and renovated in the 4the century AD in the name of the Emperor Hadrian. Hadrian was the Roman Emperor who ordered the walls between Scotland & England. He came to rule after Trajan. It was originally in Corinthian style consisting of a cella and a porch. The keystone of the arch has a relief of Tyche (Romans called her Fortuna), the goddess of fortune & destiny. In the lunette over the entrance to the cella, there is another relief of a semi-nude girl, probably of Medusa, in acanthus leaves. Medusa is a protective architectural element for evil. According to the mythological story Medusa was a gorgeus girl who took the attention of Zeus. His jealous wife turned her into a giant with snake hair and who ever she looked the person was turning into a stone. Athena, the godess of wisdom wanted the head of Medusa. She assigned Perseus. Perseus had the head cut off. While he was transporting the head to Athena from each blood drop snakes in the world was created. Athena used the head on her shield to be protected from her enemies. This became a tradition in Roman Buildings and Roman shields. Today we do have a very similar faith. Once we purchase a property or a car or once we have new baby, we always have an evil eye on. To keep the bad spirits away, protection against earthquakes, eyes of jealousy, accidents… Friezes were added there from different places in Ephesus during a restoration in the 4th century AD. They are scenes relating to the legendary foundation of the city. From left to right: Androclus, the mythological founder of the city, killing a wild boar. and battle with
Scholastica Baths (Public Roman Baths):
Scholastica Baths were built in the beginning of the 2nd century AD and restored with stones brought from the Prytaneion by a rich Byzantine lady named as Scholastica in the beginning of the 5th century AD. Her seated statue is on the left hand side of the entrance of Apodyterium. There were 3 entrances. The building consists of an L-shaped apodyterium, a frigidarium, a tepidarium and a caldarium. Apodyterium was the place for undressing. Several dressing rooms can still be seen. If the person was rich their valuables were looked after by
slaves. Frigdarium was for cold bathing. Round pool, overlaid in white marble still exists today. Water was brought through a system of pipes. Roof of the room was in the shape of a vault. The baths were lit by vents. From the frigidarium, one went to the Tepidarium (tepid room) where mild temperature prepared the body for the more heat of the hottest room, Calderium. Tepidarium was heated by drains under the paving stones. These rooms were not for bathing but for massage, rubs… Romans had olive oil massages. They took away the olive oil from skin by using curved iron instrument called Strigilis. Last room caldarium was heated by very hot steam. A highly technical (hypocaust) system of drains and pipes allowed water and air to be introduced to the right temperature. Slaves kept the furnaces burning in the bath houses. There were separate hours for men and women. The women’s time slot was apparently much shorter. A trip to the bath was a very important part of ancient Roman daily life. It was a part of the social life.
The Latrines were part of the Scholastica Baths and built in the 1 century AD. They were for public use. Poor people, who did not have toilets at home, would use the public latrines. There were 3 rows of toilets along 3 sides of a square room, each being a hole in a marble bench, total number of toilets were 48, each was seperated from each other by sculptured partitions which functioned also as arm rests. This room was kept cool in the summer by a central pool and was heated by an underground heating system (warm water from Scholostica Baths were used for heating the room). There was roof over and a fountain in the middle. On the sides there were sticks with a sponge on the edge which were used for cleaning. These sponges were kept in vinegar for hygiene. The person was taking the stick and washing it with fresh water, running in the drains in front of the toilets before using it. Since this place was for relaxing and enjoying, people did not leave immediately after the call of nature but remained here for chattting
This library is one of the most beautiful structures in Ephesus. It was built in 117 A.D. It was a monumental tomb for Gaius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus, the governor of the province of Asia; from his son Galius Julius Aquila. The grave of Celsus was beneath the ground floor, across the entrance and there was a statue of Athena over it. Because Athena was the goddess of the wisdom.
The scrolls of the manuscripts were kept in cupboards in niches on the walls. There were double walls behind the bookcases to prevent the them from the extremes of temperature and humidity. The capacity of the library was more than 12,000 scrolls. It was the third richest library in ancient times after the Alexandra and Pergamum.
The facade of the library has two-stories, with Corinthian style columns on the ground floor and three entrances to the building. There is three windows openings in the upper story. They used an optical trick that the columns at the sides of the facade are shorter than those at the center, giving the illusion of the building being greater in size.
The statues in the niches of the columns today are the copies of the originals. The statues symbolize wisdom (Sophia), knowledge (Episteme), intelligence (Ennoia) and valor (Arete). These are the virtues of Celsus. The library was restored with the aid of the Austrian Archaeological Institute and the originals of the statues were taken to Ephesus Museum in Vienna in 1910.
A peristyle house on the corner of Curetes Street and the Marble Road is known as the brothel, because in the excavations, a statue of Priapus with an oversize phallus was found in the house. The statue is now presented in Ephesus Museum.
The construction of the building dates to the Trajan (98-117 A.D.) It has two entrances, one from the Marble Road and one from the Curetes Street. It has a hall on the first floor , and on the second floor there are number of small rooms. On the west side of the house there is a reception area with colored mosaics on the floor, symbolizing the four season. The chamber next to it is the bath of the house with an elliptical pool. On the floor of the pool, there is a mosaic describing three women eating and drinking, a waitress standing, a mouse and a cat nibbling crumbs.
Ephesus Terrace Houses:
Near the Library of Celsus, at the bottom of the slope of the mount, is a row of houses that were thought to be the residences of the wealthy people of Ephesus. These are called Ephesus Terrace Houses. The recent restorations pay close attention to their original form of opening straight onto the street with wide stairs, walls decorated with mosaics and frescoes, and marble plating.
The time span that the terrace houses were in use varies between 1C BC up to 7C AD, and then were abandoned after they were destroyed by an earthquake.
The terrace houses in Ephesus allow you to see how wonderful a life the wealthy lived. They had hot and cold water in their kitchens and bathrooms, saunas and swimming pools, interesting mosaics. The houses were even set up so they were cool in the summer and heated.
Commercial Agora (Tetragonos Agora) :
The Commercial Agora was an open square with sides 360 ft long and surrounded by stoas with two aisles behind which were shops. It was the center of the commercial world in Ephesus. In addition to the marketing of goods there was also a slave market of beautiful girls brought from different places by sea. It was the second largest slave market of the Ancient World. A water-clock and a sundial as parts of a horologium stood in the middle of the agora. Water clock which drained out every 20 minutes was used in court proceedings, to measure out the speaking time alotted to each person. An inscription found on the wall of agora says “The people of Ephesus express their gratitute to agoranome, (market supervisor) Eutuches, son of Menecrates, for having pre-empted a rise in the price of bread”. According to some biblical scholars there is a high possibility of St. Paul having a tent making shop in the commercial agora of Ephesus between 53-56 AD.
The Great Theatre of Ephesus:
The Great Theatre was built on the foot of Panayir mountain and its façade faced the Harbour street, in the first century AD and later on it was renovated by several Roman Emperors. It is considered to be the most imposing and the most impressive structure of Ephesus city. It could host up to 25,000 spectators.
Its cavea consisted of 66 rows of stone seats which were divided into three horizontal sections by two diazomas. The seats at the bottom of the cave had marble backs and they were used by the most important personalities of the city. Its skene has been preserved in a good condition nowadays. It consisted of three stories with the second of them having been decorated with pillars, statues and carving by the Emperor Nero, in the 1st century. The third storey was built by Septimus Severus in late 2nd century AD. The ground floor consisted of a long corridor with eight rooms. The semi-circular constructure between the cavea and the skene, known as the orchestra, has also survived in a pretty good condition and it was the place on which the choruses were singing.
Columns with niches, statues and windows adorned the façade inside the theatre (opposite the spectators) and there were five openings, the middle one wider than the others, to the orchestra, which made the skene looking imposing.
There is a street on the upper part of the theatre which connects it with Curetes street.