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Ruins of Ephesus City

May 23, 2012 Comments Off

The State Agora

Agora vs Marble wayThe State agora was used as a meeting place for the govermental discussions and issues. All types of political activity such as elections, meetings, demonstrations were held in the state agora. It was surrounded by porticoes on its three side. Porticoes were colonnaded streets and ambulatory walkway covered with a roof, especially in classical styles of architecture. As an assistive proof, there were many graves and terra cotta sarcophaguses found dating back to the arcaic period. In the middle an Isis temple of Egyptians was found which was destroyed during the reign of emperor Augustus as he did not like anything Egyptian much. There was an aqueduct at the corner of the State agora which provided water for the citizens through the Pollio fountain. The remains of the aqueduct can be seen on the Aydın-Selcuk highway today. The State Agora is a large open area surrounded by temples, a basilica, small theater (Odeon), fountains and other structures. The remains indicate it was the administrative center of Ephesus at least from the time of Augustus. Isis temple Ephesus always had a large Egyptian population throughout its history and Isis was a very important Egyptian goddess. There was a temple of Isis in the middle of the State Agora. The temple was built during the Hellenistic period when Ephesus had close relations with Alexandria. Unlike other Egyptian deities, she did not have a centralized cult at any point throughout her worship. Isis gave the hope of eternal life or resurrection. In Anatolian religions this idea gained popularity because there had been no belief in an after life before her. The Temple of Isis in Ephesus was destroyed during the reign of the Emperor Augustus because of Augustus’ hostility towards Anthony and Cleopatra. Some parts of this building were used for the construction of The Polio Fountain. The state agora is thought to be used as a cemetery as well.

Varius Baths

Varius Baths were originally built in the Hellenistic period. Located to the north of the State Agora, the Varius baths were built by the emperor Flavius Damianus and there was a private room kept for himself and his wife. There were other rooms for rich citizens of Ephesus added to the baths as well. The walls were made of large blocks with a vaulted brick roof. Latrines were on the south side. The structure is still in good shape up to the vaults section. It had three sections inside: the caldarium (hot room), the tepidarium (warm room) and the frigidarium (cold room). Other rooms were added later as resting, reading and talking sections. The mosaic hall dating back to the 5th century AD has survived today and it represents Byzantine period effect on inner decoration style. Limestone was used as building material. There were baked clay pipes inside the walls of the caldarium and the tepidarium to ensure the hot air getting through these sections. These baths were excavated off and on between 1929 and 1979.The final architectural structure of the Varius Baths stands as a sample of classical Roman bath styles.


Basilica It is a typical Roman Basilica. Located on the northern part of the state agora the basilica has a nave and three-aisles. The Ionic columns in the basilica were ornamented with bulls’ head figures dating to the 1st century A.D. The basilica was used for stock exchange and commercial business. Meetings of law courts were also held in the basilica. The statues of Augustus and his wife Livia were found at the east end, and now they are displayed in Ephesus Museum. So we can understand that the Basilica was rebuilt for the last time during the reign of the Emperor Agustus. It was destroyed by an earthquake in the middle of the Fourth Century AD.


Odeon of EphesusThis building has the same form as a small theatre with the stage building, seating places and the orchestra. It had double function in use. First it was used as a Bouleuterion for the meetings of the Boulea or the Senate. The second function was the Odeon as a concert hall for the performances. It was constructed in the 2nd century A.D by two wealthy citizens in Ephesus. It had a capacity of 1500 spectators. It 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 were restored. The Odeon used to be enclosed with a wooden roof. Two councils administrated Ephesus. These were Demos or the parliament which was open to the public was taken place in the great theatre and the Bouleia which gathered in this small theatre. The members of the boulea were chosen from the aristocratic class of Ephesians. The most important decisions and city matters were discussed in the Odeon.


Prythaneion is the place where religious ceremonies, official receptions and banquets were held. The sacred flame symbolizing the heart of Ephesus was kept constantly alight in the Prytaneion. The construction of the building dates to the 3rd century B.C, but the ruins of the complex dates to the period of Augustus. Beyond the columns in front of the building is a courtyard surrounded by a portico. On the north is the center of the building, where the ceremonial hall and its side rooms were. The eternal flame was here in the center of the ceremonial hall, the red colour on the floor determined the location of the flame. At the rear, there was a large area with wooden roof, the base of an altar is still recognizable today. The double columns on the corners of the hall held up the wooden roof. During excavations, archeologists found 2 artemis statues inside the Prythaneion site.

Domitian Temple

It was the first temple to be built in the name of an emperor in Ephesus and located next to the Domitian Square. This area was named after this temple. The Polio Fountain and Memmius Monument stands opposite of each other. The Polio Fountain was situated on the left side of this temple. A well-ornamented sculpture from the Hellenistic period was excavated in Ephesus. The sculpture depicts Odysseus while he was blinding Polyphemus (cyclops) in order to escape from his cave.
Memmius Monument was a memorial which was dedicated to Memmius, son of Caius and grandson of Sulla. It was in the reign of Domitian that an emperor gave permission to built an Emperor Temple, which was a great honor for Ephesus. However, Domitian was a despotic and selfish emperor, and he was not liked much by ephesians. When the unpopular emperor was killed by his servant, ephesians erased his name both from the temple and the inscriptions as they wanted his name not to be in history. However in order not to lose this status, the Ephesus people continued to erect temples for emperors after Domitian.

Polio Fountain

Located on the eastern part of Domitian Square, next to the western side of the Agora, Polio Fountain is quite an appealing structure with its wide and high arch which supports the triangular pediment and its small pool. The water was provided with the fountains through aqueducts and distributed by a branching system of baked clay pipes. Water was free of charge in the public fountains. Also they gave water as a refreshment in hot summer days alond the streets. It has a high arch and was decorated with a number of statues. Water fell into the pool through the semi-circular apsidal wall on the side of the Agora. According to an inscription, the fountain was constructed by Sextilius Pollia in 97 A.D.

Memmius Monument

Memmius Monument of Ephesus was erected in the 1st century A.D by Memmius, the grandson of dictator Sulla. On the marble frieze the soldiers of his father and grandfather were sculpted.

Dictator Sulla was a hero for the Romans in Ephesus. When the taxes were too high in Ephesus, they were fed up with the oppression of Rome. They needed a miracle and under the command of Sulla the army of ephesus brought security. This monument was built to signify this rescue. On the relives were written “dictator Grand sulla, the savior, for the honour of grandfather of memmius” as it was built by memmius. After the reconstruction the structure seems like a tower with a conic roof, as a cubistic modern architectural work.

Curetes Street

Between The Hercules Gate and the Celsus Library, Curetes Street is one of the three main streets of Ephesus. This street took its name from the priests who were called as Curetes. Their names were written in Prytaneion. On the way on each side there were shops under the vaulted structers, but nothing left back as they were damaged. There is a sculpture of Alexandros, a doctor who save the people from malaria. There were many sculptures like Alexandros. There were fountains, monuments, statues on both sides as well. The shops on the south side were two-storied. After many earthquakes that Ephesus had, a number of structures including the Curetes Street were destroyed. Some pieces especially 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 is visible today. In front of the houses there were shops with mosaics onthe floor surrounded with columns and protected by a roof. There were terraced houses on the slope of the hill which located along the Curetes Street which were used by the rich of Ephesians.

The Fountain of Trajan

The structure was constructed in memory of emperor trajan. It was originally two storied, in the upper storey the facade was ornamented with the statues surrounded by columns, dionysos, satyr, Aphrodite and the family of emperor Trajan. The front of the structure was embellished with a triangular facade with the Composit and Corinthian capitals. A foot of the emperor can still be seen today. There were two pools one in front the other at rear, the water coming from aqueduct filled the pool at rear first and flew to the pool in front. People could supply their water by these fountains. As seen on the piece of statue today there is a the circle on his foot, emperor Trajan gave the message that “the world is underneath my feet and in my hand !” as he was one of the most important emperors of roman empire.

The Scholastica Baths

Together with latrines and the public house the Scholastica Baths are part of a large complex on the northern side of the Curetes Street. It was built in the beginning of the 2C AD and restored with stones brought from the Prytaneion by a rich Christian lady named Scholastica in the beginning of the 5C AD. The structure stands as an L-shaped apodyterium, a frigidarium, a tepidarium and a caldarium. In the first two rooms there were cold pools and in the last two hot pools. The whole building was heated by the hypocaust system which was provided with a furnace with flues that channeled hot air through the walls and under the floors, heating the water as well. Baths played an important role for Romans in being social. Latrines were part of the Scholastica Baths and built in the 1C AD. They were public toilets of the city. There was an entrance fee to use them. In the centre, there is an uncovered pool and the toilets are leaned to the walls. The columns surrounding the pool supported a wooden ceiling. There was a drainage system under the toilets. The Scholastica Baths differs from other baths as there is no palaestra and the chambers are not symmetrically positioned.

Hadrian Temple

Ephesus Hadrian TempleThe temple was built in 1. century AD. And the struction proves all legandry foundation of Ephesus. The facade of the temple has four Corinthian columns supporting a curved arch, in the middle there is a relief of Tyche, goddess of victory. The side columns are square. In front of the temple there are the bases for the statues of the emperors Diocletian, Maximian, Constantius I, and Galerius; the originals of the statues have not been found yet. Inside the temple above the door, a human figure, probably male-lover of Hadrian stands with ornaments of acanthus leaves. On both sides there are friezes depicting the story of the foundation of Ephesus – Androklos shooting a boar, Dionysus in ceremonial procession and the Amazons. On the fourth frieze two male figures are depicted, one of which is Apollo, and female figures, the wife and son of Theodosius and the goddess Athena. The friezes that are seen today are copies, and the originals are displayed in Ephesus Museum. Hadrian Temple is one of the best preserved and most beautiful structures on Curetes Street.

The Celsus Library

Ephesus Celsus LibraryThe Celsus Library is one of the remarkable structures in Ephesus. It was built in 117 A.D. Built in the 2nd century AD, it was a monumental tomb for Gaius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus, the governor of the province of Asia. The grave of Celsus was beneath the ground floor. Because Athena was the goddess of the wisdom, across the entrance was a statue of Athena over it. 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 humidity. The capacity of the library was more than 12,000 scrolls. It was the third largest library in ancient times after the Alexandra and Pergamum. The style of the library, with its ornament, well- balanced façade, reflects the Greek influence on Roman architecture. The architect drew on an optical trick that the columns at the facade are shorter than those at the center, giving the illusion that the building is 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, having these virtues was a condition for a council member.

The Grand Theatre

Ephesus TheaterThe Grand Theatre is accepted as the most magnificent structure in the ancient city of Ephesus. The theatre is located on the slope of Panayir Hill, opposite the Harbor Street, and could easily be seen when one entered from the south entrance to Ephesus city. It was originally constructed in the Hellenistic Period, in the 3 century BC during the era of Lysimachos, it was enlarged and formed its current style that is seen today during the Roman Period. It is the largest theatre in Anatolia and has over 25,000 seating capacity. There are sixty six rows of seats in the cavea, divided by two diazomas (walkway between seats) into three sections. In the lower section, marble pieces and the Emperor’s Box were found. The marble seats were reserved for important people. The audience entered from the upper cavea. The stage building is three-storeyed. The facade facing the audience was ornamented with relieves, columns with niches, windows and statues. There are five doors opening to the orchestra area, the middle one of which is wider than the rest. This enhanced the appearance of the stage, giving it a bigger, monumental look. The Grand theatre was used not only for concerts and plays, but also for religious, political and philosophical discussions and for gladiator and animal fights during the Roman period.


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