Ephesus is an ancient city founded on the coast of what has become modern Turkey in around 3000 B.C. On the Royal Route of trade to the east and a prominent religious centre for both Pagan and Christian religions it is one of the greatest cities in history. It was claimed by ancient writers that Ephesus was founded by the Amazons under their Queen Hipolyte at that time the location was right on the Aegean Sea around the 3rd to the 5th millennia. The initial location of Ephesus was a river bend that eventually became a full harbour near the mouth of the Kayster (Cayster) River. The river frequently silted up over the years and became removed by around 5-6 kilometres from the sea. The silting did however create an incredibly fertile valley for current day farming. Walking the marble road of Ephesus you are literally walking in the footsteps of Antony, Cleopatra and Caesar.
The first great building which became known as one of the seven wonders of the Ancient World was the Temple of Artemis. This was believed to have been re-built over 7 times according to Pliny. Originally the Mother Goddess (Kybele) cult was assimilated with the newly arrived Greeks who made up a new cult with their goddess Artemis. A temple was built by Croesus which was completed by 430 B.C. However the magnificent building was burnt down by a lunatic who wanted to be famous, the temple burned the night Alexander the Great was born. The site is still visited to this day but much of the materials that went into the building of the great temple have been used in other monuments which are visible from the site. Ephesus became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2015 and you can learn more about these World Heritage Sites here on the blog Anything-Everywhere.
Around 10 BC Androclos was searching for a new location in which to site the city. Because of the man-made harbor and the flow of the river, backwashes caused the harbor to frequently silt up. It was written the Emperor Hadrian cleared the harbour and when this was finished Ephesus was in a location that justified a great seaport. The city sat at the convergence of three land routes, going East, North East and North with a shipping lane from the north. It became a magnet for citizens from all over the known world. As its height Ephesus was calculated to have around 250,000 citizens which put in around the 4th largest City in the World.
It became over time a magnificent City with its Marble Road, which was known as the Sacred Way and must have been a splendid place to live. Archaeologists have been excavating Ephesus for the last 140 years when a search for Artemis Temple was undertaken. The site spreads over approximately 12 kilometres only a 10th of which has currently been excavated.
The Roman influence at Ephesus is the most apparent. With its Roman Baths, public W.C.’s with full sewer system, the Library of Celsus, Basilica, and Odeon that seated 1400 spectators and a great theatre which seated 25,000 the ruins at Ephesus are a incredible step back in time. Walk the Sacred Way that Antony and Cleopatra strode on. The white marble road has been pieced back together over the past 100 years and remains a stunning reminder of the glory of this ancient site.
Visit the Terraced houses with their intricate mosaic floors that are as bright today as when they were first installed. Seat yourself in the Odeon or Great Theatre and just feel the presence of those ancient people. Imagine looking out over to the Aegean Sea and in your view was one of the most glorious sites in the entire ancient world.
Highlights of Ephesus include the Arkadiane Way which was used as a ceremony road. It links the famous Royal Route to the sea and runs around 500 metres with galleries and shops either side the full length of the road. The Library of Celsus which held up to 15,000 scrolls was cunningly built and designed to look far grander than its narrow lot would allow for. The double walls of the library were built to ensure good temperature control to preserve the scrolls. The walls and floors were faced with coloured marble and the lavish use of decorative wall friezes and ora.
Visit the ancient site of what is considered the Virgin Mary’s home.
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