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Ephesus enjoyed three periods of prosperity spanning more than eight hundred years. In Hellenistic times it was the most densely populated city in Anatolia. It became the metropolis of Asia , ie Ionia, for two hundred years, from the time of Augustus through  to the second century A.D., and then again it had a golden age, from the third century through to the middle of the fourth century,  that lasted through to the Justinian era (527-565).

The city was probably founded, by tradition by Androklos, about 1000years B.C. . The Greeks arrived not long after and introduced the worship of Artemis, alongside Kybele the mother goddess that held sway  as chief deity in this part of Anatolia at that time.  The original settlement was about a kilometer west of the Artemision at the port of Koressos, although spread from the fortified city in the port to around the Artemision. Following the death of Alexander, Ephesos fell into the hands of Lysimachos, who moved the town to what is now seen as the main ruins on the northern slopes of Mt Koressos and the southern and western slopes of Mt Pion, enclosed by a city wall. The populations of Kolophon and Lebedos were forcibly resettled in the city and this began it's prolonged period of prosperity and importance, punctuated by periods of strife and upheaval in the third century A.D.. With the rapid expansion of Christianity in the area many important and beautiful buildings came into being. The castle at Ayasoluk hill and the church of St John within it belong to this period. During the fourtenth century in the Seljuk period the town once again flourished and occupied the area occupied by the castle and where the town of Selcuk now stands.

There is so much to see at Ephesus, that it is exhausting to see the site in a single day especially at the height of summer. Make sure you allow time to visit the terraced houses, that is extra to the normal entry fee. A guide book is probably a good idea for the whole site and these can be bought anywhere. One can hire local official guides that are often worthwhile. It is a good idea to try and find some others visitors to help share the cost!

Below is only a sample of what can be seen.
Celsus library
There is no question that one of the principal buildings at Ephesus is the Celsus library, beautifully restored to give a sense of its original glory. The facade was two-tiered, the interior consisting of a single large lofty hall, within which the library itself rose up on a platform built over a vaulted substructure reached by a nine stepped stairway. Manuscripts would have been kept in cupboards occupying the niches that can be seen on the inner walls. 
It was erected in 110 A.D., and completed in 135A.D., by Gaius Julius Aquila Polemaeanus as a heroon to his father GaiusJulius Celsus. The skeletal remains of Celsus lie buried in a  lead casket within a stone sarcophagus within. Alongside the library is the monumental triple gateway erected about 3B.C.. An inscription above records that two slaves emancipated by Agrippa, Mazaeus and Mithridates  built the gateway in honour of Augustus, his wife Livia, and Agrippa.
Triple gateway Library
Agora The commercial agora was reached through this western gateway. It was set up in Hellenistic times measuring 110m square and surrounde on all sides by stoas. It was altered and added  to in the reigns of Augustus and Nero. The two storied double colonnade on the eastern side was built when Nero was emperor 54-68A.D..A water clock and sundial had stood in the centre of the Agora and there were hundreds of statues on each side representing rhetoricians, philosophers, athletes and various state officials.
Ampitheatre This is the largest and most impressive of buildings in Ephesus. In Roman times it measured 145m in width with an auditorium 30m in height. Commenced in Hellenistic times it was enlarged by Claudius (41-54 a.D., and completed in Trajan's reign 98-117 A.D.. It could seat 24,000. As with other theatres in Hellenistic times performances were in the orchestra but on the proscenium in Roman times. St Paul preached here but a jeweller named Demetrius, fearing a drop in sales of Artemis statues started a demonstration against him.
Leading from the theatre to the harbour  is the Arkadiane, a colonnaded street attributed to emperor Arcadius although probably dating back to Hellenistic times.  Two pedestrian walks in the colonnades on each side wer 5m wide and paved with mosaics. Aseries of shops stretched along the inner sides. About half way down is a monument composed of four Corinthian capitals that probably supported statues of the four apostles. erected in the time of Justinian (527-565 A.D.).
ampitheatre ampitheatre

Curetes Street
This is the main thoroughfare, a scared marble road, leads up through Ephesus from the Celsus library to the State Agora. It is lined by stauary and colnnaded shops. On the right as you walk up there is an octagonal tomb that recent research suggests may have been where Cleopatra was finally buried. You then pass the terraced houses now escavated, and an essential part of any visit to Ephesus. These rival Pompeii in the insight they give to the interiors of houses of this period (see below). On the left there are the Scholastikia Baths construced by a Christian lady in the fourth century.
As you process upwards there is the Temple of Hadrian on the left, an attractive edifice built in Corinthian style built by a man named P Quintilius. Then you come to the Fountain of Trajan bordering the end of the Scholastikia Baths. It is a pool flanked on three sides by a two storied building. The center was occupied by a huge statue of Trajan two stories high beneath which water emerged into the pool. Many of the staues here have been removed to the Ephesus museum.
Temple of Hadrian
Curetes Street
The marble road started at the Artemision, passed west by Vedius gymnasium, the stadium and theatre, continuing east of the agora to the libraray before ascending to the state agora.and after passing through the Magnesia gate returned to the Temple of Artemis. It was reservd for vehicles and is bordered by a late roman colonnade on the eastern side. There were steps at each end of the colonnade to enable pedestrians to walk through the colonnade.
Just off the top of Curetes street wher it meets the State Agora, alongside the Odeon, is the Pyrtaneion, the town hall of Ephesus with the adjoining temple of Hestia Boulaia, where burned the perpetual flame.  

In the immediate vicinity of this peculiar structure lies a triangular-shaped architectural element coming from the Door of Heracles which is at the start of Curetes Street. This sculpture represents Winged Nike, the Goddess of Victory, while she holds a plaited crown in her left hand.

Winged victory
'Socle Structure'

At the junction of  Curetes Street and Domitian Street on the south east corner stands an edifice showing walls with stone blocks in the rustica style. It has been referred to as the Socle structure by the excavators as it's  function is not known. It was erected in honour of C. Sextilius Pollo the builder of the Marnas aqueduct, in the reign of Augustus.
North stoa of State  Agora
At the end of Curetes Street beyond the Domitian Street junction lie the remains of  gateway that formed the entrance to the State Agora. It was flanked on the northern and eastern sides by stoas. The north stoa is referret to as a basilica. This stoa was divided into two aisles a central nave by two rows of columns, Beneath the basilica are the remains of a single aisled Hellenistic stoa. The basilica was erected in the late Augustan age and bulls heads decorate the Ionic capitals on two sides. Later columns with Corinthian capitals were added to give extra support to the nave. The function of the basilica was probably for municipal activities and the proximity to the pyrtaneion was therefore not a coincidence. Street
bulls heads
Odeion and North stoa of State Agora Odeion
This building that resembles a theatre is known as the odeion. Its proximity to the pyrtaneion and state agora suggests it functioned as a bouleuterion (council chamber).The podium is not typical of a proscenium and would fit with a bouleuterion. It was likely to have been roofed and seated about 1400 people. It was erected around 150 A.D. by Publius Vedius Antoninus. Just beyond this building are some provate baths built by Flavius Damianus. On the approach road to the northern entrance to the site can be seen the Magnesian gateway, the only surviving city gate.
Terraced Houses
These private houses on Curetes Street have been completely excavated over recent years and are still in the process of being restored. They are in an extremely good state of preservation. These are construceted on three terraces and included a splendid domus belonging to a wealthy man and severalhouses of more middle class citizens. The front was in the  form of a colonnade and initial construction was beginning of first century A.D.. Although severly damaged by successive earthquakes reconstruction continued occupaton until the time of Heraklius (611-641 A.D.). The colonnade contained 12 shops that were two storied.
Terraced houses One enters into a peristyle courtyard surrounded by a colonnade of Doric order. The walss were covered with coloured marble that is being painstakingly repaced fro theexcavated fragments. A fountain was added and the pool remains. Behind this are a very grand hall and dining room leading to a private basilica with its original barrel vaulting still intact. Adjoining this house is another peristyle house with twelve rooms. There are numerous frescoes in very fine states of preservation and throughout all the buildings are some fine mosaics

Medusa Dionysus
There is much more besides! If one wanders down the Arkadianeto the port of Ephesus one moves into the largest complex of buildings on the site, but the least excavated. The rermains of the Harbour Gymnasium and Baths are very impressive still. Beyond the ampitheatre but closed to the public is the Vedius gymnasium and Stadium. The latter, not unlike the theatre, sadly has been plundered heavily for its stone for other building projects.