Ionian Greeks established Ephesus around 1000 BC on the mouth of the now silted Kayster river on the Aegean coast and western Anatolia region of Turkey.
The city flourished during the 7th-6th centuries BC and again from the 4th century BC when it fell under the rule of Alexander the Great. After Alexander’s death, the city continued to flourish under the authority of one of his successors in Lysimachus. During this prosperous time, the Greeks erected the Temple of Artemis (Artemission) which was one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world.
Under Roman power (1st century BC onwards) Ephesus developed into a principal seaport and commercial centre on the Aegean and its population grew to 400,000 in the 2nd century AD.
One highlight of Ephesus is the Great Theatre, which is built on the slopes Mount Pion. Erected by the Greeks in third century BC during the Hellenistic reign of Lysimachus, the theatre was remodelled and enlarged by the Romans to what is seen today. The tiers could accommodate 25,000 people, which made it one of the largest theatres in the Roman world. Used for plays, concerts and gladiatorial events, the theatre is famous for its use by the Bible character St Paul as a place to preach against pagan worship.
Another of the other major highlights is the Library of Celsus, which is the ancient city’s most famous building. It was erected in AD 114–117 by Consul Gaius Julius Aquila as a mausoleum for his father, Julius Celsus Polemaeanus, who is buried in a in a tomb under the apsidal wall on the right side of the back wall.
The library was one of the affluent in the empire and, at its peak, had over 12,000 scrolls. The statues observed in the niches between the doors signified wisdom, Sophia, knowledge (episteme), intelligence (ennoia) and virtue (arte) of Celsus.
Ephesus is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
All images, text and content are copyright Steven Sklifas.