‘New York City’ of the ancient world: Ephesus

Yes, it was! This extraordinary ancient city meant what New York means today!

Ephesus, which was one of the twelve Ion cities, developed as a result of a union of Ionian immigrants with the natives living near the temple of Kybele. Afterwards, the spectacular temple built for this goddess who then took the name of the Greek Goddess Artemis, would be famous as one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

Like the other Ionian cities, Ephesus was ruled by Lydia, Persia, Macedonia and lastly by the Roman rulers. This city was one of the most popular cities of the ancient world and was given a special attention by many Hellenistic kings. For instance it is known that Lysimakhos built this city and gave it his wife Arsinoe’s name, and that the king of Pergamon Attalos II, enlarged the port. Because the Romans made Ephesus the capital of the Asian State, the city became one of the biggest settlements in Anatolia. The city was an important centre for Christianity at this time.

Owing to its wonderful position and associated ports, Ephesus became Anatolia’s biggest trade centre. The Celsus library, a theatre, a stadium, a gymnasium, temples and the famous baths are responsible for this city becoming a sport, religious, cultural and entertainment centre especially in the Roman times.

CELCIUS LIBRARY

It is the most important remains of the Ephesus antique city in the Izmir Selçuk province. Built during the Roman Period in 115-117, it survived a fire in the year 260. It is famous for its striking architecture of its two-story facade. The three rows of recesses in the inner walls of the library were used to store rolls of script.

ARTEMIS TEMPLE

This famous temple is one of the seven wonders of the world, and is also known as Artemission. It was first built in lonian style during 560-550 B.C. by the Lydian King Kroisos. After being burnt down in 356 B.C. by a lunatic, it was rebuilt on the same foundations, but its height was extended by 3 m. This temple, which is also famous for its marble statues, is 55.10 x 115 in dimensions and was the largest of all temple, which were discovered during digs by J.T. Wood in 1869-1874, and David G. Hogart in 1904-1905 in the name of the British Museum, were taken to England.

HOUSE OF VIRGIN MARY

This house, where the Virgin Mary is supposed to have lived during her last days, and to have died with Johanna at her side, is situated 7 km south of Ephesus. The German Nun Katharina Emmerich (1774-1824) described the surroundings of the house from a dream she had.

Lazarist monks in Izmir set out in 1891 to find the house based on sister Emmerich’s description. They found the remains and built a chapel here. Pope John XXIII declared it a pilgrim-age site in 1961.

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