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Temple of Artemis

Located on the hill of Ayasuluk there is the Temple of Artemis, or Artemision, which was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, although from some excavations its location is presumed to have being in different places.

Dedicated to the cult of Artemis, very popular in the region, it became a much visited center of pilgrimage and so the city itself. Each year, a whole month of vacation was taken for religious ceremonials and contemplation.

The first temple was built in the sixth century B.C., Ionian Diptera structured, with two rows of columns on both sides and three rows in the front and rear. It had a total of 127 Ionic columns, with a height of 19 meters each, of which 36 had relief sculptures.

In 356 B.C., a disturbed and infamous character named Herostratus burned the temple in order to make his name immortal. That night Alexander the Great was borning in Macedonia, who later, upon his arrival in Anatolia, offered to make a donation to the temple, with the condition of attaching his name to it. However, his offer was rejected with a polite and discreet answer, “it would be improper for a god to build a temple for another god.”

So it was not until the fourth century that the second temple was built in the same tier but with a base of 13 steps. A proof of its Anatolians origins is the fact that the temple faced west, while Greek temples have their face towards the East, as a rule. The same happened in the temples of Sardis and Magnesia on Meander. The columns were shorter and thinner and reliefs were made by the famous sculptor Scopas, while the altar were made by Praxiteles.

But in the year 262 B.C., the Goths invaded the area and razed the temple. Gradually, the Ephesians were converted to Christianity and the temple ceased to have the same old religious significance, so many Christians even used his remains and ruins for other constructive functions, as it symbolized the ultimate triumph of Christianity over paganism.

From the magnificent and sacred temple we can only see today one of the 127 Ionic columns, erected between 1972 and 1973 from several pieces of different columns, without reaching its original height.

There was an archaic processional way that spreded to the Temple of Artemis around Panayir Dagi (Mt. Pion) through the Magnesia Gate. This was the route of the ancient processions, flanked by tombs in its entirety. The Library Square was a major stopping point on the processional route then. The section from the Magnesia Gate to the Temple of Artemis in the route of the procession was covered in the second or third century A.D. by T. Flavio Damianus, a reach personality of Ephesus and a renowned sophist. It was called Stoa or Damianus Portico.


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