Ephesus – Through today’s Eyes, Explore and Witness History

A lazy afternoon in the small town of Eceabat on the Gallipoli Peninsula while we wait for a midnight bus connection to Kusadasi, a portside town on the Aegean Coast in western Turkey. Kusadasi is also the closest larger town to the ancient city ruins of Ephesus, GR: Eφεσος in the Ancient Greco Roman era.

Bus at Torbalı enroute to Kusadasi Turkey

During my first visit to Ephesus a friend and I travelled through the night by bus from Eceabat and grateful for a short stop on the outskirts of Torbali, an ancient Ionian city enroute to Kusadasi to stretch our legs and catch the sunrise.

From Torbali it’s about an hours’ drive to Kusadasi, where arrangements had been made to meet our guide at 8.00am. This gave us an opportunity to relax and enjoy breakfast in a local hotel until our guide arrived.

On my second visit, I came by ship as part of a seven day/night trip cruising some of the Greek Islands, starting in Heraklion, Crete, before sailing to the islands of Santorini, and Mykonos, then a day in Athens, before sailing to Kusadasi, then continuing on to the islands of Patmos, and Rhodes.

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Arriving in the Port of Kusadasi, late sunrise with a full day ahead; my first view of this seaside town was the sight of a huge modern day covered bazaar. Disembarking from the ship and then walking through the port terminus and bazaar to find arranged busses waiting to transport myself and others to the Ephesus.

From Kusadasi it’s approx. a 20 minute drive to Ephesus with entrance gates opening at 8.30am.

The House of Virgin Mary Selçuk Turkey

However, on my first visit our personal guide took us to the House of the Virgin Mary in The House of Virgin Mary Selçuk; a Catholic shrine located at Mt Koressos, also known as Mount Nightingale close by and within the vicinity of Ephesus. Our guide tells us that this location is believed by many Christians to be the last place the Virgin Mary lived.

The House of Virgin Mary Selçuk Turkey

Before entering the House of the Virgin Mary you pass the wishing wall, providing pilgrims the opportunity to leave a personal message written on cloth or paper and tied to lines of wire affixed to the wall.

From the House of the Virgin Mary it’s approx. a three km drive along the back road to Ephesus; a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2015.

It was during early March that I first visited Ephesus and grateful that very few people were around. Whilst, my second visit was during August; the height of the summer season with hordes of people around.

During both my first and second visits I entered the site from the upper entrance. On the second visit buses could only drop off passengers due to limited parking facilities for larger vehicles.

Together with a personal guide, my friend and I had the best part of a day, and our guide took her time sharing details as were leisurely found ourselves dreamingly wandering the immortal ruins of the Hellenistic, Roman and early Christian civilisations that contributed to shaping history. Ephesus was built during the 10th century BC by Greek colonists from the Attic and Ionian regions, in Greece on what was the former site of Apasa, and its capital Arzawan. Ephesus was one of twelve cities that were known as the Ionian League; Greek city states, before coming under the control of the Roman Republic in 129 BC.

The historic ancient city location held a prominent (original) position being built on a river bend that was dredged to become a harbour near the mouth of the Cayster River. For more than 13 centuries the ancient city of Ephesus had been at the heart of commerce, education and spiritual pilgrimages, with the first Greek coins appearing in the late 6th century BC.

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From the upper entrance we walked along Curetes Street that was one of three main streets within the ancient city. The street originated during the Hellenistic period and was also both the sacred way and processional way for ceremonies and pilgrimages to the Temple of Artemis.

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Ephesus has two Agora (market place) and as you walk along Curetes Street you’ll notice the semi-circular of the Bouleuterion, also used as the Odeon Theatre and the upper Agora, that is also known as the State Agora on the left.

The Bouleuterion, GR: Βουλευτήριο), built around 144 AD. was originally the meeting place of the Boules. A large council of approx. 500 citizens from distinguished families that were collectively responsible for managing the day to day affairs of the ancient city. What would be the equivalent of a modern day council or governing body over a specific area and/or location.

During the Roman period, the site of the Bouleuterion was also used and known as the Odeon Theatre where people would meet to attend musical performances.

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One of the entrances to the Upper Agora from the Bouleuterion, that provided services for those working within the area of administrative area of the ancient city.

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Close by to the Bouleuterion/Odeon Theatre, you’ll see what was known as the Upper Gymnasium in Hellenistic times and later known as the Roman Baths of the State Agora. I learn that this section of the ancient city site was first excavated in 1927, yet there is more to be unearthed and discovered. However, one can see four bathing rooms that form part of the complex that was constructed in the rock face of Mount Pion. More recent excavations have also found a hypocaust, an ancient Roman under floor heating system, a caldarium, where the walls, floors and benches are heated by floor heating and connecting halls with mosaic floors. Fascinating!

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We continued walking along Curetes Street through the Basilica Stoa, also known as the Royal Colonnade that was built in 11 AD. by the then reigning Emperor Augustus and had replaced a single aisle Hellenistic stoa. The Basilica Stoa was 160 meter long with a two storey marble walkway covered by a wooden roof, joining two very important buildings within the ancient city; the Bouleuterion and the Prytaneion.

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The sanctuary of Temenos situated between the Bouleuterion and closer to the Prytaneion shows what remains of a large open courtyard with ruins of two small temples believed to be places of worship dedicated to the Goddess Artemis and the emperor Augustus. This belief follows statue inscription findings in the immediate vicinity.

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The Bouleuterion, as noted above was the meeting place of the Boules who were collectively responsible for managing the day to day affairs of the ancient city; whilst the Prytaneion, GR: Πρυτανεῖον was the seat of the Prytaneis, the executive and seat of government in ancient Greece. The building is dated to the 3rd century BC, during the Hellenistic era. The person holding the position of Prytaneis was either appointed or elected for a term of one year to oversee the ancient city’s administrative affairs and responsible for leading the council of Boules which convened at the Bouleuterion.

What was equally interesting was that the Prytaneion also housed the sacred flame of Hestia, the Goddess of the hearth and was continuously burning as a symbol of life in the city.  In addition to the inscriptions found around the Prytaneion honouring the worship of the Goddess Hestia, were inscriptions of the God Apollo and the Goddess Demeter. How is the Goddess Demeter supporting you? Learn more here.

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Walking from the top of Curetes Street and witnessing the many ruined buildings, together with many fallen columns, stone blocks and the many statues that were once part of temples and scattered terracotta pipes that were part of the agora; you get a sense of how big, how important and how busy this ancient city once was.

During the 1st century BC Ephesus was home to more than 250,000 people, making the ancient city the second largest city in the world at the time. Revered and known for the Temple of Artemis, the goddess and patron of the city. Her temple was built in 550 BC and became an important pilgrimage site. Education also played a major part in the ancient city with Heraklitos being the most famous philosopher who lived during the 4th century BC. Ephesus continued to be a meeting place for philosophy during the reign of the Roman Emperor Augustus in the 1st century AD and also become a centre for Arts and Cultural.

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As we reached the lower end of Curetes Street we stepped down one step that is marked by two pedestals, each with a base relief of the messenger God, Hermes leading a ram with one hand and holding a Caduceus in the other hand; a symbol representative of Hermes in Greek and Mercury in Roman mythology. The two base reliefs are mirror images that face each other before we pass through and a short distance to Domination Square.

Two additional base reliefs are also located close by. The left image shows base relief of a snake moving upward from the Omphalos GR: Ομφαλός meaning in ancient Greece; the centre of the earth to a bowl. The centre image again shows the Omphalos nestled between the feet of a tripod.

Ephesus TurkeyJust past the columns and base relief of the God Hermes, we walk past a monument in honour of Gaius Memmius, a Roman senator who also held high positions of power, including the appointment of proconsular of Asia sometime after 30 BC.

During his tenure in various positions of power he had a monument built sometime between 50 – 30 BC honouring himself and three generations of his family.

The monument inscription reads (translated): To Gaius Memmius, son of Memmius, grandson of Sulla Felix (also known as the Roman Dictator Sulla), who paid for this monument from his own funds.

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We then walk through what was known as Heracles gate. The gate gets in name from the reliefs of Heracles that adorn its columns and is believed to have been built in the 2nd century AD as inscriptions show. Interestingly again, the two base reliefs are mirror images that face each other.

Our guide also shared that during the 4th century the columns seen by visitors today are believed to have been brought from another location and originally forming a triumphal arch honouring the Greek hero having killed the Nemea lion, in Greek mythology. The gate stands at the boundary of Curetes Street and Domitian Square and was made to be narrower, therefore, preventing vehicles like chariots to pass through.

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During antiquity the Heracles Gate was a two storey building and it’s believed that the relief of the winged Goddess Nike, GR: Nίκη meaning victory in Greek was originally a feature of the Heracles Gate. The Goddess Nike was generally shown as a young winged girl swiftly descending from the heavens to bring victory.

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Just before reaching Domitian Square and the Temple of Domitian we pass by the Fountain of Trajan built during the 2nd century AD. The fountain was once a two storey structure build in honour of the Roman Emperor Trajan and also as a dedication to ancient city’s patron the Goddess Artemis. The fountain was originally built with a large statute of the Emperor Trajan.

When looking closer you’ll see a ball that represents the world and a carving that showed the right foot of the emperor; who was known for saying. “I am the ruler of the world. The world is under my foot”.

Given the era, it was interesting to see a round symbol representing the world as being round as it was once believed by Galileo during the 17th century that the world was flat. During 300 BC, the famous Greek philosopher and polymath Aristotle knew the world was a round, whilst Eratosthenes, a Greek mathematician and polymath who died in 194 BC invented a system of longitude and latitude and made a map of the known world.

More fascination!

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The various buildings and temple ruins throughout Ephesus show a constant interface between Greek rule and Roman rule. From 129 BC. the Romans held rule over Ephesus and during the Roman era, the people of Ephesus built and/or rebuilt many buildings and temples who they dedicated to their ruling Emperor in order to secure and maintain good relationships and ongoing support from Rome.

The Domitian Temple built during Emperor Domitian’s’ reign in 81 -96 AD being the first Roman emperor of Ephesus is another such building that honours a Roman emperor. This emperor was known for his brutal persecutions of many Christians in other roman cities and ruled Ephesus with the same practices, therefore making him a very unpopular emperor which led to his assassination by his servants. During his reign he also exiled John the Apostle to the Greek island of Patmos.

Following his assassination the Roman senate officially erased his name from all public records, inscriptions, buildings and monuments. Even coins minted with his head, were melted down and statues of him were destroyed or repurposed and the Roman senate declaring “damnation memoriae” (condemnation of memory). The Temple also changed name and was then known as the Temple of the Sebastoi following Domitian successor, Emperor Nerva.

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Ephesus TurkeyThe Baths of Scholastica, also known as the Baths of Varius is another one of the five bath sites used throughout the ancient city. This bath complex first built in the 1st century was used by the more affluent and distinguished families who brought their servants with them. It was later during the 4th century that the Baths of Scholastica needed repair with the work being financed by the Roman aristocrat Scholastica. A statue of her was erected at the entrance in honour.

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An addition to the Scholastica Baths that was built in the 1st century was the public citizens’ toilets. Interesting to learn that public citizens’ where only for men, and who paid a small fee for the use: no women were permitted. The toilets were not only used for their purpose, they were also used as a place of socialising where men would sit and chat. What was also interesting  given the era was the public toilets were quite the masterpiece of the then modern ingenuity. The room housed three marble benches with 16 holes cut into each, with the centre of the room housing a small fountain that served the purpose of removing odours and keeping the room cooler in the hot summer months. A small trough at the front of the benches provided for constant flowing cold water that provided a means for the men to wash themselves with a small sponge at the end of a stick, known as a tersorium; whilst a deeper trough ran under the benches with flowing water that carried waste out through the ancient city’s terracotta pipes that ran under Curetes Street.

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The Baths of Scholastica are located behind the Temple of Hadrian. The ruins of the Temple of Hadrian was given this name as an inscription was found dedicating the building to the fourteenth Roman emperor Publius Aelius Hadrianus during his reign between 117-138 AD. The photo shows the staircase to the right of the temple that leads to the Baths of Scholastica.

However, what we see today is an archaeologist’s reconstructed entrance from the 1950s, showing a beautifully ornate portico that is covered with equally beautiful and intricate marble sculptural reliefs and inscriptions.

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One sculptural relief on the marble lunette panel above the door of the Temple of Hadrian is of a female figure that is believed to be that of Medusa.

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Across from the Temple of Hadrian and the Baths of Scholastica on Curetes Street are a number of double storey houses that were once home to the affluent families of the ancient city.

Within the renovation scaffolding and under a covered roof I learn that there are seven terraces houses with decorated mosaics floors, marble wall panels and frescoes that provide a unique insight into the private lives of the affluent families that resided in the centre of the ancient city.

Our guide advices that there is a separate charge to see behind the scaffolding as the renovations has been undertaken by a private company. However, as much as I would have loved to see within what is referred to as covered/outdoor museum, there is so much more to see. I’ll happily return again!

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A detailed mosaic pathway provides the entrances to the Terrace Houses.

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A closer look shows the various designs.

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Standing at the corner intersection of two streets just before reaching the Library of Celsus, as we walk down Curetes Street and passing the terrace houses is the impressive roman era gateway, known as Hadrian’s Gate.

The gateway was built during the 2nd century AD, by the then Roman Emperor Trajan who ruled during 98-117 AD, however was then dedicated to his successor Emperor Hadrian who ruled during 117-138 AD and in honour of the ancient city’s patron Artemis.

The gateway was completed during 117 AD, the same year as the neighbouring Library of Celsus.

Very little of the original three storey marble monument with three impressive entrances, with the centre entrance standing at the grand height of 54.5 ft tall and combined entrance width of 37.4 ft remains.

However, the white fluttered marble Corinthian and Ionic columns that supported the two narrower entrances on either side of the main entrance were unearthed in 1904 and reconstructed during the mid 1980s.

It doesn’t take much to visualise the grand centre arch and the three entrances. Amazingness!

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At this moment, I’m standing right in front of the beautifully restored façade of the Library of Celsus that was once the third largest library during antiquity.

The library was built during the 1st century during a time of scholars and philosophers by Tiberius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus, more commonly known as Celsus a man of Greek heritage and a family of priests. He served as a military commander, political figure and also became a Senator and the Proconsul of Ephesus in 92 AD, the first Greek national to hold this position during the reign of the Emperor Trajan.

Ephesus TurkeyAs noted in his will and upon his death Celsus bequeathed a large sum of money to his son Julius Aquila Polemaeanus to complete the construction of the library that was completed around 135 AD in honour of his father.

The library was built to house 12,000 scrolls and became not just a memorial to his late father Celsus, but to also be a mausoleum, including a crypt containing his sarcophagus.

Today, the library’s rebuilt façade stands without the rooms that once contained the 12,000 scrolls and his marble sarcophagus is still held in the building’s basement. It was also interesting to learn that during the Roman era people generally were no permitted to be buried within the city; therefore the crypt held a singular honour.

Visitors are not permitted access to the basement; however we can certainly admire the detailed and ornate carvings that decorate most of the façade, including reliefs of mythical scenes, eagles, flowers, leaves and other forms of vegetation and the white marble columns of the rebuilt two storey façade that once held a statue of Celsus positioned in the centre of the second floor.

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Together with admiring and appreciating the various Greek and Latin scripts along the sides of the stairs that tell the story of Celsus life and the four (recreated) female statues of women that stand in the niches within the colonnade of the ground floor library façade.

As shown in photo from left to right:

  1. Statue of Sophia GR: Σοφία representing the personification of wisdom and learning. Her name is also the foundation of the word philosophy GR: φιλοσοφία.
  2. Statue of Arête GR: Ἀρετὴ representing the personification of virtue and the fulfilment of learning. Her name is a direct translation of the Greek word Virtue.
  3. Statue of Episteme GR: Επιστήμη representing the personification of knowledge and understanding. Her name is also the foundation of the word epistemology (Episteme and logos) – GR: επιστημολογία

Not shown, the statue of Ennoia GR: Eννοία representing the personification of intelligence and sense. Her name is also the foundation of the two words common sense – GR: κοινός eννοία.

The original statues are housed in the Ephesus Museum in Vienna.

The library façade was restored during 400 AD, however was again destroyed during a subsequent earthquake during the Byzantine era, whilst during the following centuries many of marble pieces were reduced to lime to make new building materials.

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The area around the Library of Celsus and the archway entrance of Mazeus and Mithridates Gate to the agora was overtime converted into a grand square as a public space that portrayed the power and prosperity of the ancient city.

The monumental gate that consists of three arches was originally built by Mazeus and Mithridates during the 4th – 3rd century AD and dedicated to the Emperor Augustus. During his reign the emperor freed Mazeus and Mithridates who once served as slaves.

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The inscription above the left arch that is written in Latin details Mazeus dedication to Emperor Augustus and his family for granted him freedom.

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The inscription above the right arch that is again written in Latin details Mithridates dedication to Emperor Augustus and his family for granted him freedom.

As with many of the buildings throughout Ephesus alterations were undertaken on the gate of Mazeus and Mithridates during the reign of subsequent emperors. Emperor Claudius during 41-45 AD and Emperor Nero during 54-68 AD. It was during an earthquake in the 13th century that the gateway collapsed.

What we see today is a reconstruction of the gate of Mazeus and Mithridates that was completed during 1980-1989, following the findings and excavation of original block work undertaken in 1903.

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Our guide waits patiently for my friend and I to take in the historical beauty all around as we stroll through the Library of Celsus, the gate of Mazeus and Mithridates and stepping through the gate to the lower Commercial Agora.

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Walking down Marble Street that connects the Library of Celsus and the Great amphitheatre was a relaxing experience as no one else was around at the time.

The road laid with marble blocks was built during the 1st century and rebuilt during the 5th century and formed part of the sacred way that passes Mount Pion, GR: όρος Πίων and known today as Panayır Daği that once connected to the road that lead to the Temple of Artemis and also connects with the road leading to the harbour.

Remnants of marble columns line the either side of the marble road that runs parallel with the enclosed lower Commercial Agora.

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Like the State Agora that we passed earlier on in the day, the lower Commercial Agora was first built during the Hellenistic period, and redesigned during the Roman period. As was usual in Greek and Roman cities, a number of monuments, statues and inscriptions, and practical constructions such as water fountains, were set up around the agora over the centuries.

Looking back at the lower Commercial Agora you see the second floor structure of the Library of Celsus and piles of many more columns that once formed a covered stoa (walkway) that had a wooden roof for pedestrians that adjoined the agora. During my second visit, more of the columns had been re-erected.

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It’s certainly a beneficial and rewarding choice to begin a visit through Ephesus starting from the upper entrance. Making your way along Curetes Street and taking in much of what was once daily life in this rich and prosperous ancient city and then continuing along Marble Street that continues to show you through today’s eyes the wonders of exploring and witnessing history, to then feast my eyes of what was and still is the grand amphitheatre.

Sitting on the lower seats of the theatre our guide joins us and takes us on another journey through time and the history of the theatre that began in 334 BC when Alexander the Great freed the Greek population of what was then Anatolia and under the rule of the Persian King Darius III.

Following Alexander’s death in 332 BC, his successors and others vied for rulership over parts of his vast empire. After more than 20 years of subsequent battles, Ephesus was seized by one of Alexander’s former body guards; Lysimachus. Lysimachus had become the King of Thrace, Asia Minor and Macedon being a Hellenistic state of Greece in 306 BC, and added Ephesus to his kingdom rulership in 295 BC.

Lysimachus’ aim was to rebuild the city of Ephesus, which at the time was situated around the Temple of Artemis on a lower plain on the other side of Mount Pion approx. 2km from the existing ancient city site. Not wanting to move from there close proximity to the Temple of Artemis, it is said that in order for the Ephesians to move Lysimachus blocked the waterways from the Cayster River, GR: Κάϋστρος, now known as Küçük Menderes and the old harbour port that was becoming a soggy plain, and was also prone to flooding.

As the new king, Lysimachus changed the name of the ancient city to Arsioneia after his 16 year old wife Arsione II, the daughter of Ptolemy I and was given the city of Ephesus by her father and later became the Queen of Egypt. Following his marriage to Arsione II and becoming king, Lysimachus moved forward with his plan for the new city and the new harbour that was based on the principals and grid layout of city planning designed by Hippocampus of Miletus, GR: Ἱππόδαμος ὁ Μιλήσιος that saw no further changes to the city design for the next 500 years. The new city plan design by Hippocampus who was a Greek architect, urban planner and mathematician also held knowledge in meteorology, physics and philosophy and lived during 498-408 BC became the founder of the city planning design known as the Hippodamian plan.

The great amphitheatre was a major feature of the new city plan; however the construction of the theatre began sometime following the death of King Lysimachus who was killed in 281 BC and shortly thereafter the name of the ancient reverted back to its former name ‘Ephesus’.

The original monumental Hellenistic theatre from the 3rd century BC was positioned at the intersection of two prominent streets in the ancient city; Marble Street that leads to the agora and the street that also served as part of the ceremonial processions honouring the Goddess Artemis and the Arcadian Way that lead from the harbour. The great theatre was both the location for public celebrations in honour of the Goddess Artemis and also held major significance for ancient Greeks, with entertainment evolving from the following of the God Dionysus who was known as the God of wine, winemaking and grape cultivation, fertility, theatre and ritual madness. Under Roman mythology Dionysus was known as Bacchus.

The great amphitheatre was constructed during two phases, that being 3rd and 2nd century BC facing the harbour and looking down the Arcadian Way where visitors arriving by ship would be in awe of the impressive and grand sight that was only 530 metres from the harbour.

Following the death of Lysimachus, various power struggles and wars erupted during approx. 200 years for control of the ancient city. It was interesting to also learn that during the 2nd century BC, Ephesus minted a large number of drachma silver coins that were first minted in the 6th century BC making the drachma one of the oldest currency coins.

By 86 BC the Romans took control of the city however, for the following 60 years the governing Roman consular imposed high taxes on the population leaving the city in debt. It was during the reign of Emperor Augustus, 27 BC – 14 AD, things changed on a grand scale. Emperor Augustus moved the capital of the Roman province of Asia from Pergamon, another ancient Hellenistic city, to the ancient city of Ephesus, with Ephesus becoming the third largest city of the Roman Empire following Rome and Alexandria with regards to wealth, population, education and influence.  The calendar of months and number of days during antiquity also changed with the now month of August being named after the Emperor Augustus and the month of July being named after Julius Caesar, two prominent figures during Roman antiquity.

During subsequent reign by successive Roman Emperors, the Great Amphitheatre was renovated and enlarged to increase the auditorium by the Emperor Claudius 41-45 AD; a stage, also known as skene in ancient Greek, σκηνή, meaning tent was constructed that was 60ft in height with a long corridor with eight rooms and three stage doors under the reign of Emperor Nero 54-58 AD and the inclusion of the ornate marble columns and decoration being added to the three storey stage by Emperor Trajan 98-117 AD.

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During the Roman period the Great Amphitheatre was used for gladiator combat (photo shows gladiator entry to stage floor), various festivals and also continued to be used as a theatre for drama and poetry and were the population of Ephesus meet for public assemblies. An estimated seating capacity of 25,000 people seated along 67 rows making the Great Amphitheatre the largest theatre in Asia Minor and one of the largest theatres of an antiquity.

With change in religion during the 1st century the Great Amphitheatre was used to present preaching’s by Saint Paul, whilst large crowds gathered, it wasn’t to hear the preaching’s of the gospel rather large crowds gathered to protect against Saint Paul’s preaching.

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What we see today is part of the stage with the lower marble columns, the original drainage system and the impressive scale of seating; however the very top layers are cordoned off for public safety. Our guide also demonstrated the effective use of acoustics that reverberated to the top layers of seating up through the curved marble lower levels of seating that were reserved for officials.

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A resident Ephesian cat accompanies me at the top of the seating area and stays with me whilst I admire and be in awe of my surroundings and spend time in quiet meditation.

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Originally built during the Hellenistic era and known as Arkadiane GR: Αρκαδιανή or Harbour Street. The street was renamed as The Arcadian Way, after the Emperor Arcadius 383-May 408 AD restored the street. The street that lead to the harbour was lined with 50 impressive marble columns that once held lightened torches at night and connected to a covered paved mosaic walkway for pedestrians with numerous shops along the way. The 33 ft wide marble laid street served as a promenade for both people and goods arriving via the harbour.  Sailors and merchants arrived via the harbour as did kings from foreign lands, and emperors and councilors from other city states. Official visitors were formerly greeted on the street that was decorated with sculptures adorning the sides of the streets to impress visitors.

To the right of the Arcadian Way as you walk towards the harbour stands a 2nd century bath gymnasium complex that was devoted to the Goddess Artemis. The complex was used as an educational centre where young men were taught art and literature and trained in sports and physical activities.

During my second visit to Ephesus the Great Amphitheatre at the crossroad of the Arcadian Way was the end of my visit. As you depart from the ancient city site through the lower entrance/exit you pass along a road with both sides lined with stores selling all sorts of wares, trinkets and souvenirs and hordes of local store owners waiting to haggle with you and wanting to sell you their wares. And…I couldn’t resist temptation and bought a pashmina of three. ATM’s, a post office, public toilets and some cafes are available before connecting to the bus.

A relaxed bus ride takes us through the winding mountainous road to Selçuk. Where we have an opportunity to learn the art of silk weaving by those who are talented silt rug weavers at a local silk rug maker, and demonstration outlets in Selçuk and there’s also the option to purchase. Leaving Selçuk our bus driver returns us along the winding mountainous road back to Kusadasi where the ship awaits our return. Walking back towards the port, I slip into a local sweet store to purchase Turkish pomegranate tea.

Time to rest and rejuvenate the body following a great half day re-visiting Ephesus.

My next port island hopping some of the Greek islands was the island of Patmos.

However, on my first visit to Ephesus and given we had a private guide whose car was at the upper entrance we retraced or steps to exit via the upper entrance and then made or way to the site of what was the Temple to the Goddess Artemis on the outskirts of town of Selçuk.

Temple of Artemis, Ephesus Turkey

Little remains of the Temple of Artemis that is located on a low lying site a short distance from the Isa Bey Mosque being the oldest active mosque in Turkey and the walled Basilica of Saint John the Evangelist, also known by the Turkish name Ayasuluk that derives from the Greek name Saint John, Agios Ioannes Theologos, GR: Ἅγίος Ἰωάννης Θεολόγος and the fortified castle of the same name, Ayasuluk Castle that stand on Ayasuluk Hill.

Temple of Artemis, Ephesus Turkey

At the time of my visit only one lonely standing marble column remains with the ground around peppered together with various smaller pieces of ruins covered partly by water of the once highly prized temple of the ancient world where many set out on a pilgrimage to pay homage and worship the Goddess Artemis.

The Goddess Artemis who personifies the beauty of nature, whether it be the stillness of the forests, the tranquillity of mountain lakes, or the wild animals; she was also known as the huntress, goddess of the wild, childbirth, care of children and chastity.

Many columns, blocks and other forms of building materials from the Temple of Artemis were used in other reconstructed buildings throughout the ancient city of Ephesus, whilst many of the artefacts are now housed in the British Museum in London.

Artist Impression of Temple of Artemis, Ephesus Turkey

An artist’s impression, credited to Zee Prime at cs.wikipedia provides an impressive visualisation of the structure in its former grandeur and grace of what was once, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

Following many centuries during which the Temple of Artemis was visited as a place of worship, it was during 262-263 AD with the combination of a destructive earthquake, the ancient city’s harbour adjoining the Cayster River, having become heavy with silt and the plundering by the Goths, that all contributed to the decline of the ancient city.

The Goths who were a nomadic Germanic (Scandinavian) people who fort against the Roman rule, and contributed the downfall of the Roman Empire having held a considerable hold over much of Europe for centuries, contributed heavenly to the destruction of many buildings in Ephesus, including the Library of Celsus and the Temple of Artemis.

When the Goths sacked the ancient city they set fire to the Library of Celsus burring thousands of scrolls and other building. Approx. fifty years later the Roman Emperor Constantine issued a decree accepting Roman Catholicism as the official religion of the Roman Empire. Thus, the demise and practice of the Goddess worship era. It was during the reign of Emperor Theodosius that saw any trace of the Temple of Artemis be destroyed and reused much of the building material in the construction of Christian churches. He also forbad the freedom of worship, and  retracted many rights held by women.

With the deteriorating port and banning of worship that attracted many pilgrims and visitors, Ephesus continued to decline. Fast forward to the 6th and 7th centuries that saw two massive earthquakes and the Arab invasions that resulted in many of the population fleeing to set up new settlements elsewhere.

During a brief period in the 14th century Ephesus saw an increase in growth and rebuilding by the Seljuk Turks, however this was short lived and by the 15th century Ephesus was completely abandoned.

During the following centuries Ephesus was left in ruin, until its legacy was revived and become an archaeologists and historians haven during the late 19th century. Ongoing archaeological excavations continue to unearth magical finds.

There is much to captivate your eyes, warm your heart and uplift your soul as you are guided through this magical ancient city. Once you pass through the Magnesian Gate and connect with a feeling of awe in time and place – then pass through the upper Agora, the Bouleuterion and Oden Theatre, walking the ancient marble paved Street of Kouretes; sacred way and passing the ruins of the Prytaneion that houses the sacred flame of Hestia, passing the Baths of Scholastica, Trajan’s Fountain, the Public Latrines, the Houses of the Patricians, the Prytaneum, the Temple of Hadrian the Library of Celsus and the Great amphitheatre and take a walk down the Arcadian Way. Yes there is much to see, to learn and to take in of the 9000 year history of life as it once was, as you see through today’s eyes, you explore and witness history.

This post is available as a Soul Travel Guide e-booklet pdf downloadable file here for the price of a coffee.

My time in Ephesus has truly filled my soul.

This blog is the third in series of posts sharing my travels in Turkey and one of many that I have written sharing the personal journeys that have enriched my life and broadened my knowledge and understanding of the richness and diversity of our shared world. Experiencing the gifts of a new outer landscape in a new country that evokes ones senses in many and varied ways, and provides offerings of reflection that is awakening the inner landscape.

Embracing the lessons and learning’s that a new outer landscape gives is one of life’s inspirational mysteries. Yet our personal horoscope offers valuable insights that guide each of us with acknowledging the lessons and integrating the learning’s through the practice of Astrocartography, Where Location Matters.

Below you’ll find a personal account of how and why Astrocartography is a valuable guide to support the awakening of your inner landscape. See how together with your personal horoscope and Astrocartography you can incorporate the outer and inner landscapes.

Book you Astrocartography, Where Location Matters today, here and awakening your inner knowing to the locations that are calling you.

Thank you for taking the time to read and I hope that I bring some inspiration (if needed) to visit this amazing and magical part of the world. Leave a comment and let me know, and visit A Soul Awakening to subscribe and receive new blog posts as they become available.

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  • Maggie

    I visited Ephesus last year and I loved it! So much history and amazing to get to visit somewhere that the Apostle Paul spent so much time. I went in May and it was definitely already hot but not too crowded.

  • simplyjolayne

    I would LOVE to wander through the ruins of Ephesus. What an amazing site.

  • Laureen Lund

    Wow! Your research here is amazing. I visited Ephesus about 15 years ago…It was before I had traveled much and still to this day it was such an astonishing, beautiful and fascinating place. I would love to go back someday.

  • Jennifer Mostert

    I was in Ephesus a month ago. It was also my second visit, and I’m even more intrigued by this incredible archaeological site than I was before.
    One thing that did make me giggle is the ‘damnation memoriae’ of Emperor Domitian. Once I heard about this condemnation of his memory, it occurred to me that it didn’t really work, did it? Ah, politics.
    Thank you for a great read. I look forward to reading your next Turkey posts.

  • Anna Schaeffer

    Wow! Your photos are SO beautiful. I’ve always wanted to go to Turkey. Hope to make it there one day!

  • Nikki

    Wow! What an awesome write up. I visited Ephesus earlier this year, along with loads of other people. You got some fabulous photos of it without the crowds. The history here is quite incredible.

  • Leah

    I would love to visit Ephesus, definitely on the bucket list! Thanks for sharing your experience, your photos are beautiful!

  • Sydney Brown Travels

    This is a great post. I am now adding Ephesus to my bucket list!

  • Jenelle

    Wow such a comprehensive guide to Ephesus, it truly is such a magical site. I was lucky enough to visit in 2018 and I could have sat in front of that library forever, so awe-inspiring! Love the write-up!

  • Becky Bodnum

    What a wonderfully detailed post! It’s definitely on my bucket list. I was just on a Greek cruise that had a stop in Bodrum. It would have been 4 hours RT to visit. I’m definitely going to have to find a route that gets me closer.

  • simplyjolayne

    I would love to wander and learn and photograph just as you did. What an amazing place.

  • Rose Campau

    This is truly the first time I’ve learnt about Ephesus, and man have I been missing out! It seems like it has such a rich culture to explore, I hope I make it there someday.

  • Michelle

    I’d love to visit Turkey. There are several places on my Turkey bucket list. After reading your post, I will be adding Ephesus!

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