Extraordinary Ephesus

Thirty minutes’ drive north-east of Kusadasi on the Turkish coast, lies another world – the ancient world of Ephesus, one of the oldest Greek settlements on the Aegean Sea, that later became the provincial seat of Roman government in Asia. The scale of excavation of this site is nothing short of breathtaking. What is revealed is an archaeological gold mine, an amazingly preserved site that was once home to 150,000 people.

The main street of Ephesus – Curetes Street, the artery of the whole city. Image: GRACIE

The street consisted of many shops and enterprises very like the strip shopping areas we know today. Pharmacy and medical store fronts were indicated by these pillar reliefs.

The astonishing fact is that only 20% of the main city has so far been uncovered. It’s difficult to comprehend the grandeur of this place. There’s so much to see and absorb and the mind blowing fact is that this is just the Roman layer. The Greek site lies beneath unable to be excavated as it would entail the destruction the Roman ruins!

Stunning reliefs have been uncovered revealing amazing and beautiful detail.

Winged Goddess Nike relief Image: GRACIE
Hadrian’s Arch Image: GRACIE

Excavations have revealed what is known as The Scholastica Baths, built in 1st century CE. Due to advanced public works, they included municipal toilets. A series of 36 holes across three long marble benches provided a convenience that underneath clean water would be flowing to channel the waste.

The magnificent theatre of Ephesus is more than impressive with a seating capacity of 25,000 seats. It is believed to have been the largest in the ancient world. The structure began in Hellenic times and a second and further third level were added in Roman times.

Video of Ephesus Amphitheatre Video image: GRACIE

Perhaps the most spectacular building at Ephesus, is the Library of Celsus. This striking ornamented facade exhibits fine marble work. It was constructed in the 2nd century CE and housed over 12,000 scrolls. The columns used on the sides are shorter than those in the centre creating an optical illusion make the facade’s size look greater than what it really is. To describe it as magnificent is an understatement.

Detail of the facade of The Library of Celsus Image: GRACIE

Located alongside the library, is the Commercial Agora that served as a trading area and gathering place. Goods coming from all around the world were traded here. Constructed during the Hellenistic period it was rebuilt several times during the Roman period and remained a vibrant and bustling area.

The Commercial Agora market place Video image: GRACIE
The Commercial Agora Market Place – Ephesus Image: GRACIE

The majestic remains of Ephesus transport you to another time and place, well worth the effort of visiting there should you ever be in the Eastern Mediterranean region. It is an unforgettable experience.