Touring the Ruins of Ephesus (Efes)
Ephesus Travel Blog› entry 4 of 8 › view all entries
I had a private tour guide lead me around the ruins of Ephesus (or Efes in Turkish, which name incidentally was adopted by a modern local beer). The guide was very knowledgeable in both history and archaeology. I felt this was the best way to see all of ruins, to focus on the aspects of the city that I found most interesting, and to see the ruins at my own pace. I'm glad that I made that choice instead of following one guide in a herd of 50 or more tourists from a bus.
The city of Ephesus was founded as an Attic-Ionian colony in the 10th century BC. The mythical founder of the city was Androklos, a prince of Athens who was forced to leave after the death of his father, King Kadros.
Augustus became Emperor of Rome in 27 BC and made Ephesus the capital of proconsular Asia (the western part of Asia Minor). Under Roman rule, Ephesus prospered and it is estimated that its population grew to between 400,000 to 500,000 by 100 AD, making it the largest city in Roman Asia and the largest city of the time. The first and second century AD was the peak period for Ephesus.
Ephesus was known for the Temple of Artemis, the Celsus Library, and its theater which could hold 25,000 people. The city also was known for its baths and its advanced system of aqueducts, and several other sites including the Fountain of Trajan, the Temple of Hadrian, the Odeon, and the commercial and state agoras.
Library of Celsus. I was very impressed with the Library of Celsus, which seems to me to be the best restored building of any of the sites I have been too, including Pompei. Archaeologists have reconstructed the impressive façade of the Library of Celsus from its original pieces. Gaius Julius Aquila originally had the library constructed around 125 AD in memory of his father. The library once held nearly 12,000 scrolls, making it one of the largest libraries of the time. Archaeologists generally believe that the library was designed with an exaggerated entrance to enhance the perception of its size. Notably the library faces east with large windows so that the reading rooms would receive the morning light. My guide pointed out that the underground tunnel, which is marked by the figures of a woman, a heart, and a price, and leads from the Library of Celsus up the hill to an area next to the baths. The tunnel is believed to have been connected to a bar or brothel -- so much for those men going to the library to "read!"
The Goths destroyed the Temple of Artemis and most of the city of Ephesus in 263 AD.