June 10th, 2014
(note- borrowing heavily from Wikipedia, etc.to provide a bit of background)
Ephesus was an ancient Greek city built in the 10th century BC. With access to the Aegean Sea, Ephesus was an important port city, but the city really flourished after it came under the control of the Rome in 129 BC.
When Augustus made Ephesus the capital of Asia Minor in 27 BC, it proved to be a windfall for the seaport city. Its population grew to around 250,000, attracting immigrants, merchants and imperial patronage. The annual festival of Artemis (Diana to the Romans) became a month-long spring fest, drawing thousands from across the empire.
Ephesus also attracted Christian settlers (Greeks and Jews), including St. Paul who lived in Ephesus for three years (in the AD 50s) There is a tradition that St. John settled here with Mary, the mother of Jesus, and also wrote his gospel here.
Ephesus was at its peak during the 1st and 2nd century AD. It was a major Roman city second in importance and size only to Rome.
Ephesus’ eventual downfall came from nature, not conquerors. As the river that Ephesus was situated on continued to silt up, and the area became more of a malarial swamp, the population of Ephesus declined, finally abandoning the city altogether. Now, the ruins of Ephesus lie some 7 miles from the sea.
Only about 1/3 of the buildings at Ephesus have been excavated. All around, and up the hill sides would have been more city.
We toured Ephesus with a guide as part of a group. When we arrived at Ephesus, the crowds had already arrived. None-the-less, we had a great time seeing these ruins and learning about this ancient city.
I loved this walkway through the ruins. The hillsides provide such a beautiful setting for this city.
We first came to a site where there had been a bath.
Ephesus was a large, modern (for their time) Roman city, with state of the art aqueducts and baths.
Some of the original clay tile piping is still intact.
We walked through what would have been the main street…….
It was paved with marble, and even stippled in sections for better traction when wet.
All along the walk way were remnants of monuments and statues.Some were depictions of local ‘heroes’, others might have been purely decorative…..
But some were used as sign posts. This one told visitors where to find the doctor.
And this one, across the roadway, showed where the pharmacy was.
This angel let people know that this building was a church.
This cat was resting so nicely on this pedestal that I just had to take his picture…..a scene so quiet and serene that it belies the chaos that greeted us as we rounded the corner.
Because, Oh My Gosh! The walk way heading towards the main attractions suddenly converged into a sea of people! We kept our eyes focused on our guide (the guides carried different colored umbrellas so that we could more easily spot them).
Despite the crowds, we were able to stop and get our pictures of the main highlights.
This was an area of ‘boutique’ stores where the wealthier people of Ephesus would have shopped.
The walkway in front of the stores was paved with mosaic tile. La-Te-Da!
The wealthier people even had their own public bathrooms……this room had this toilet bench along all 4 sides. It held maybe 40 men (only men were allowed), each tending to his business. Beneath the bench, ran an aqueduct with constantly flowing water to keep the area clean.
One of the ‘main attractions’ is the Library of Celsius……
When Ephesus governor Celsius died in 106 AD, his son had the library built as his monument and grave. The sarcophagus is under the west wall of the library. The Library of Celsius once held nearly 12,000 scrolls.It was designed with an exaggerated entrance — so as to enhance its perceived size.
The facade of the library has two-stories, with Corinthian style columns on the ground floor and three entrances to the building. The building faces east so that the reading rooms could make best use of the morning light.
Seeing this structure was truly an awesome experience…….
I stood looking out the library windows to see what would have greeted the ancient scholars.
I took pictures trying to capture the intricate carvings that were everywhere…….even up underneath the great columns.
We were anticipating having a better chance to just soak up the atmosphere, as we had signed up for a special dinner that evening that would be served out here in front of the Library ruins. We were disappointed when, later that evening, our dinner was canceled due to a rain storm. (They were not set up to handle bad weather, as it was all open air seating)
We left the Library and crossed through what would have been a gate and into the Agora, or market place.
This market area is known as the "Square Agora" because of its dimensions 360 feet square. It was surrounded on all sides by arched shops about 40 feet deep. It is located next to the harbor and was the city's main commercial center.
We really enjoyed touring the Agora area. It is in the marketplace that we could most easily picture life in Ephesus. After all, people then were much like people today. Shopping was not only a necessity, but a chance to socialize.
We also really liked feeling that we could picture those Biblical ‘superstars’ that we have always learned about. The Apostle Paul was sure to have preached in the marketplace. He may have even worked there, helping with tent making.
While in Ephesus, Paul tended to the new Christian converts and tried tirelessly to make more. In time, however, Paul’s passionate preaching began to make waves in Ephesus, particularly among the artisans in the Agora, who crafted miniature versions of Artemis and her temple for sale to pilgrims and tourists. When the silversmith Demetrius heard there was a man in the city saying that gods made by humans were not gods at all and should not be worshipped, he realized that his livelihood was at stake. Demetrius and his fellow artisans marched to the amphitheater shouting, “Great is Artemis of Ephesus!” They found some of Paul’s followers and hustled them along with them, creating a scene that threatened to turn violent. City officials intervened and Paul was forced to leave Ephesus.
This is the theatre where the Apostle Paul was said to have had his dispute with the local artisans. Originally holding 25,000 people, the Theater is believed to be the largest outdoor theater in the ancient world. .Designed for theatrical performances, later alterations allowed gladiatorial contests to be held here. I would have loved to have been able to see a performance at this theatre!
The Theatre at Ephesus has been recently used for theatre and music performances. Elton John, Ray Charles, Sting, Diana Ross and others have performed here. Pavarotti even performed without a microphone! Such performances have been halted for a time, as the vibrations tend to cause damage to the structure.
We emerged from the Agora onto this marble paved expanse, Harbor Street.
Harbor street is 500 meters long and 11 meters wide. It connects the market square to the harbor. On both sides of the street there were covered porticos. These porticos, which were reserved for pedestrians, had the function of protecting them from the bad weather and hosted shops in the inner part. One could just picture all kinds of horse or oxen drawn carts making their way up to the agora, and then people unloading goods into the shops. It really gave life to our visit to Ephesus.
The road no longer ends at the sea, and about halfway down, we turned off to head back to our bus. Our tour of Ephesus was over…….