The Ruins of Ephesus Tell Many Stories

The temple of Cybele, the Anatolian Mother Goddess, overlooked a great harbor on the Aegean Sea and here, the city of Ephesus (Efes) was founded in about 1000 BC. The city thrived as a worship centre as well as a trading center at the confluence of several land and water trading routes. Over time, Cybele became known as Artemis and the importance of the Artemisian Cult continued to support Ephesus as pilgrims arrived to pay homage to the great goddess. Picture of the statue of Artemis at right.

During the first 600 years, the city survived in spite of many invasions by Kimmers, Lydians, and Persians. Finally in 478 BC Alexander the Great came to the rescue and freed the city, but by this time, the Artemis Temple had been destroyed. Today, only one lonely column remains.


General Lysimakos, Alexander's successor, restored the city following an urban plan with a grid of streets. During the reign of Roman Emperor Augustus, Ephesus became the Capital of Asian Province, adding to the prestige and wealth of the residents and great monuments were erected. Then, in 17 AD, an earthquake hit but Emperor Tiberius had the cities restored and implemented economic development measures.

The population of Ephesus increased to more than 200,000. Emperors Domitian and Hadrian made visits to the city resulting in the construction of emperor temples, a source of even more prestige. Emperor Traian gave his name to the fountain that provided drinking and bathing water. A large collection of books were stored in the Celsus Library making Ephesus a center of knowledge.

Then in 262 AD, the Goths invaded the city, destroying the Artemis Temple yet again! This time the great city never recovered as the harbor had filled with silt and was no longer functional in spite of many attempts to dredge it out. So, the city's fortunes began a decline, but the ruins of the great buildings remain to tell stories to all who visit and have their minds open to hear. We present our pictures of a walk through Ephesus for you to enjoy. Listen for the stories!

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