St Paul’s New Testament Letter to the Ephesians was written to the citizens of Ephesus. The Virgin Mary is believed to have spent her last days on earth here. (my House of the Virgin Mary story, 5/11/11). St John is believed to have written his Gospel here, and to have been buried in the St John Basilica (part two of this travelogue). The Goddess Artemis worshiped here and her temple is one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Ephesus is a city that housed many important names like Cleopatra, Marc Antony, Emperor Constantine, Hadrian and Augustus, to name a few. Ephesus (Efes) was one of the most important cities in ancient Anatolia (Asia Minor) and one of the seven churches of Asia that are cited in the Book of Revelation. Ephesus was a university city like Athens. It abounded with orators and philosophers.
Visiting the ancient ruins of Ephesus reminded me of my visit to the ruins of Pompeii. (02/02/11 story) Pompeii and Ephesus are both from the same period. Pompeii, was buried under the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 A.D. At that time Pompeii had a population of 20,000. Ephesus had over 200.000 inhabitants. Pompeii was made with ordinary stone; 95% of Ephesus was made with marble. Pompeii and Ephesus today are both considered among the most well preserved cities of the ancient world. For over 110 years Ephesus has been excavated by archeologists. So far about 12% has been unearthed.
Originally, it was also a major port; but centuries of siltation had separated Ephesus from the ocean. The city was abandoned when the harbor silted up and became swampy.
Following you will find a ” guided tour” of the highlights at the Ancient Ruins of Ephesus.

Efes is Turkish for the ancient Greek city of Ephesus





Baths of Varius

It was one of the most important social structures of the Romans. The structure has cold, warm and hot sections, resting, reading and sitting rooms. It was constructed in the 2nd century.

It is a well known fact that Romans had a practice of using public baths and the Baths of Varius strengthen that point. These were places of relaxation. It now lies in complete ruin except for a few columns supported by arches. As with other attractions in Ephesus these baths are made of marble. This had given them an appealing look and they were also well decorated.





Odeion – Small Theater

The Odeion was built in 150 AD. and was used as an auditorium for the staging of musical and other events. It was also used as a meeting venue where many politicians convened in order to make administrative decisions

It accommodated about 1500 and had crafted seats of marble for its spectators.

This is a strong yet delicate representation of Nike, often referred to as the Winged Angel of Victory. This sculpture portrays her with wings fanning out, in glorious flight. Her leading hand clutches a crown of olive leaves and her trailing hand nestles a palm
tree branch. The crown symbolizes ‘Victory’ and the branch symbolizes the ‘fruits of Victory’ such as peace and prosperity.

Originally, this block was half of a towering monumental arch that led into the center of Ephesus. The arch was later identified as the ‘Gates of Heracles’.


Located towards the end of Curetes Street, it was called the Heracles gate because of the relief of Heracles on it. The Heracles Gate narrowed the access to the street, preventing the passage of vehicles. From the 4th Century on, the street had become a pedestrian area only.

In these columns, Heracles is depicted with the skin of the Nemean lion in mythology. The Nemean lion had been terrorizing the area around Nemea, and had a skin so thick that it was impossible to kill it. Finally he wrestled the lion to the ground, eventually killing it by thrusting his arm down its throat and choking it to death. Heracles was the God of power and strength



Scenic view of

The main road that leads from the entrance of the site down the hill to the Library of
Celsus is Curetes street.

The road itself is marble, and along the side of the street are
beautiful mosaic sidewalks.

Once lined with shops, workshops and inns, Curetes Street was both a main city street and an important processional route.



Beautiful Mosaic sidewalk
on Curetes Street (roped off to the public)

You can just imagine how colorful and vibrant this city must have been just by looking at this piece of history!



Fountain of Trajan

The fountain was erected between 102 and 104 A.D. and the inscription reads, it was consecrated to the Emperor Trajan. A colossal statue of Trajan stood in the central niche on the facade overlooking the pool. The pool had been adorned with statues of Aphrodite, Dionysus, Satyr and the family of the Emperor.

The water was flowing from the pedestal of Trajan’s statue to the fountain. Only the feet and parts of the torso of that statue have survived as well as a part of its facade.






Known as a place of worship, the Prytaneion was one of the most important public buildings in ancient Ephesus. It contained the sacred flame of the city that was never allowed to go out. The Prytaneion was also the place where official visitors were received.

The famous statue of Artemis as Goddess of Plenty now exhibited in the museum was discovered here in perfect condition.

Hadrian’s Temple

This Corinthian temple dates from the 2nd century and has been re-erected from the surviving architectural fragments.

.A number of interesting figures are depicted in the carvings. The entrance door has a carving of a large Medusa sculpture. On either side of the Medusa there is a frieze depicting emperors, gods, goddesses and other mythological figures connected with the foundation of the city, which shows this temple was probably dedicated more to the city of Ephesus than to the Emperor Hadrian

Terraced houses, homes of the rich, were began in 1st Century BC. and are located on the hill, opposite the Hadrian Temple. They give us information about family life during the Roman period. The oldest building dates back to 1BC and continued in use as residence until 7AD.

They had interior courtyards in the center, with the ceiling open. On the ground floor there were living and dining rooms opening to the hall, and upstairs there were bedrooms and guest rooms. The heating system of the terrace houses were the same as that in baths. Clay pipes beneath the floors and behind the walls carried hot air through the houses. The houses had cold and hot water. The rooms had no window, only illuminated with light coming from the open hall, so that most of the rooms were dim. The excavations of the terrace houses started in 1960.


Terrace Homes




This is in a good state of preservation. It originally consisted of a semi-covered rectangular area surrounded by columns with marble and bronze statues in the center and a pool affording ventilation. The room is surrounded by a row of marble seats with a marble conduit below it allowing a flow of water. The floor was covered with mosaics and the walls with marble panels. Use of the latrine was restricted to men, who paid a fee on entrance.

The Brothel

It dates from the 4th century and is situated immediately opposite the Library of Celsus. On the left hand side of the entrance there was a section in which visitors wiped the mud and dust from their clothes. The houses are adorned with rich and interesting mosaics: The beautiful women are known to have been intellectual and well-educated.

Graffiti on one of the marble paving stones for the brothel includes a heart, a cross, a woman’s head, a foot and cash. The left foot indicates the house is on the left. The third toe being longest indicates it is the 3rd door on the left. The round hole had a coin in it indicating one had to pay. It has been translated as ‘turn left at the cross roads where you can buy a woman’s love’. Ironically, the brothel is positioned opposite the ancient library. There was a secret tunnel that led from the library to the brothel…”Honey, I’m going to the library, see you later.” How many times was that line used!!


The Great Theater and the Marble Way (Acadian Way)


This street was given this name after its restoration by the Emperor Arcadius (395-408). It is the main street of the city connecting the theater and the surrounding area to the port and it was flanked by covered walkways with mosaic floors and marble columns. These colonnades, which included rows of shops, served to protect the inhabitants of the city from wind and rain in the winter and from the sun in the summer.

The site of the Great Theater happens to be one of the major Ephesus tourist attractions. The remarkable architecture grabs the attention of visitors. The stadium could hold over 25,000 people and was the largest in the Aegean world. It is believed that the construction of the Great Theater, took more than six decades to complete. This is because the workers had to dig deep into the soils of Ephesus in order to build the foundations.

Apart from the theatrical plays and the music performances that took place in the theatre, political and religious events were carried out in it as well. Among the most important of them is the conflict between Christians and the followers of Artemis during which Saint Paul was judged and sent to prison as he was accused of hurting Artemis. The Theater is still used today for a variety of performances and events.


The Marble Way (Acadian Way) looking toward the port, where the ships would dock and sailors and traders would enter the city. Try to picture life the way it was when St. Paul lived and taught here 2000 years ago, and in which Cleopatra and Marc Antony once rode in procession down this street.

Saving the best for last – The Celsus Library. We could see it far off in the distance from atop the hill as we walked down Curetes Street in the early part of our tour. Then as we came out of the building for the Terrace Houses, there it was! So magnificent up close!

Built about 114-117 A.D., the library is one of the most beautiful structures in Ephesus. It was a monumental tomb for Gaius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus, the governor of the province of Asia; from his son Galius Julius Aquila. The grave of Celsus was beneath the ground floor, across the entrance and there was a statue of Athena over it. Athena was the Goddess of Wisdom. The library is particularly beautiful as it was built to face the morning sun. This library at one time had 99% of all the worlds knowledge within its walls and It was the third richest library in ancient times.

A gallery ran around the upper floor, looking down upon the lower reading hall. The library held 12,000 scrolls in niches around its walls, built with a 1m gap between inner and outer walls to insulate against extremes of temperature.

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. The library was restored with the aid of the Austrian Archaeological Institute and the originals of the statues were taken to Ephesus Museum in Vienna in 1910.




It was a beautiful day in Ephesus as we toured this important and historic city learning so much about ancient times and the history of the world we live in. After leaving the ruins, we headed for the Basilica of St. John and the Temple of Artemis (one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World). That story will follow this one ……..


The soul is dyed the color of its thoughts. Think only on those things that are in line with your principles and can bear the light of day. The content of your character is your choice. Day by day, what you do is who you become.

— Heraclitus, Ephesus Philosopher and Author