Kusadasi is a beach resort on the Aegean coast but importantly the gateway to Ephesus and the Temple of Artemis. The ruins are seen in three basic ways.
- As distant photo stops from a coach or taxi
- A museum full of pieces
- Or a walk around the ruins
The name Ephesus is possibly a Romanised version of a Hittite word. It was a huge trading city on the coast, with underground water systems piping fresh water from at least three sources… the nearest 6km away, the furthest 43km away. You will need to take your own! The area is hot with little shade, so a hat, sun cream and water should all be considered. Walking shoes are essential as the ground is uneven and the walk can be long if you are adventurous.
But back then, the streets were awash with monumental fountains and statues. Especially in the main streets. They often celebrated the local benefactor of an aqueduct. The most outstanding ones are thought to have been the Fountain of Laecanius Bassus, the Pollio Fountain and the Trajan Fountain. The film shows a collection of recovered statues.
Aqueducts, cisterns, and wells stored the water just as drainage kept the streets from being muddy. Ephesus had a library and a theatre with an audience capacity of 24,000.
Whilst protruding limbs and noses may have broken off with wear and time, the main reason statues are found without heads is because statues were expensive and timely to make. They were made without heads, then the heads changed on commission or sale.
Ephesus Museum was renovated in 2014 and has elevators and long ramps between floors and it has approximately 64 thousand pieces including many coins – hawkers will try and sell you coins in the car park… But it is the statues of Artemis and the temple model that are the museum’s star pieces.
Built by about 900 BC, on the site of the former Arzawan capital by Attic and Ionian Greek colonists. By the mid-7th century BC at the end of the Meliac War, Ephesus was one of twelve member cities of the Ionian League. It was taken by the Romans by 129BC.
The city was destroyed around 263 by nomadic Germanic tribes known as Goths who fought against Roman rule. Their ascendancy is said to have marked the beginning of the medieval period.
One of Paul’s apostles is said to have travelled to Ephesus, and the Gospel of John may have been written there although the authorship of many of those works is now being challenged, it was the site of several 5th-century Christian Councils known as the Council of Ephesus.
Ephesus was rebuilt but its importance as a commercial centre declined as, like Troy, it became less near to the sea as the then harbour silted up by the river flowing. Its demise continued as it was hit by an earthquake in 614.
The ruins of Ephesus were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015.
TEMPLE of ARTEMIS
So as the guide told of the grand marble temple being burned down, I played the annoying school kid and questioned the logic. Marble does not burn….
History is written conveniently, and the tale of The Temple of Artemis is told in many versions. It is known also known as Artemis and Artemision both after the Greek Goddess or as the Temple of Diana, after a Roman Goddess.
It was located in Ephesus as seen in the film. Its remains are near the modern town of Selçuk which looks to have its own interest on the hill. The Ephesus Museum is nearby. The museum, Temple ruins and the Ephesus ruins are about 20km from Kusadasi.
Temple of Artemis ruins is a few stones at a site. The photo stop is quick, but look up (at end of the film). A few hours would be needed to explore the walled castle on the hill. It is known as Selçuk Castle, or Ayasuluk Citadel, or Asasoluk Castl and is accessed via Persecution Gate and is a ticket that also covers Saint John’s Basilica. It has 2 gates and 15 towers, a cistern and a mosque and the work is a continuous effort of discovery. Since 2010, over 100m of the walls and towers have been restored using original materials
However, this page is about Ephesus and the Temple of Artemis model and statues which are star pieces in the museum. That marvellous model is the third temple.
TEMPLE of ARTEMIS – 3rd version
The largest of the three builds at 137 m (450 ft) long by 69 m (225 ft) wide and 18 m (60 ft) high. It had at least 127 columns. That Temple, the third phase, the one which was the Wonder of The Ancient World, was not destroyed by fire. Cyril of Alexandria credited Archbishop of Constantinople John Chrysostom with destroying the temple. He called him “the destroyer of the demons and overthrower of the temple of Diana”. A later Archbishop of Constantinople, Proclus, noted the achievements of John Chrysostom.
TEMPLE of ARTEMIS – 2nd version
It was the second phase that was destroyed deliberately in an arson attack by a man seeking fame. Around 356 BC, Herostratus set fire to the second phase of wooden roof-beams on Marble pillars housing many wooden statues. The phase 2 Temple was designed and constructed from around 550 BC and was 115 m (377 ft) long and 46 m (151 ft) wide and with columns that stood some 13 m (40 ft) high with an open-air altar. However, even this tale may be just a story as some reports suggest that the fire might even have been started by the temple’s administrators, who wanted the new temple built on the sacred plot not elsewhere.
TEMPLE of ARTEMIS – 1st version
The earliest version of the temple, the first phase is from the Bronze Age. it was destroyed by a flood in the 7th century BC depositing over half a meter of silt, sand and debris over the original clay floor. However, the ground is thought to have been sacred even before migrating Amazons arrived.
History… the mischief is in the telling, the fun is in the truth.
CHOOSE A TOUR – some are so restrictive
The Turkish Riviera coastline offers a number of old settlements like Neopolis, but this area dates back to 3000 BC. Ephesus is said to be the Mediterranean’s best-preserved classical city. If not on a tour you can hire a huge American car (left by former servicemen). These have been turned into cabs by the locals. Leave the port of Kusadasi and head up into the hills. The first stop will be the house of the Virgin Mary, where she is believed to have spent her last days with John the Apostle. It is recognised by the Vatican as a place of pilgrimage and there is a small chapel built on the foundations. From here carry on to the world-famous archaeological site of Ephesus for what now becomes a walking tour. Enter the magnificent Ancient City at the Magnesia Gate. The ruins of Ephesus include an array of temples, agoras, porticoes, fountains, the Odeum, the Celsus Library, the Temple of Hadrian, the Fountain of Trajan and the Great Theatre. Also the 2nd-century tomb. St John is said to have lived here with the Virgin Mary after being cast out of Jerusalem in 37 to 42AD. Legend has it he’s also buried here. St. Johns Basilica was once topped with eleven domes and rivalled Istanbul’s St. Sophia Basilica in scale. The church ruins still have frescoes, mosaics and columns that attest to the glory that once marked this holy place. DORIS VISITS WESTERN MEDITERRANEAN MENU OF PORT GUIDES
The hillside is famous for pretty villages of cobblestone lanes, souvenirs, homemade wines and Gözleme – griddle bread with various fillings and local crafts which you should try to see before returning to the ship. This is one place we suggest looking at all the local tours before you travel, research is key. Please watch the film of the ship’s Panoramic Tour and Ephesus Museum. I guess the gift shop items come from the same place as the ones on Amazon.
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