A great legend! It happened between the 11th centuries BC...
At that times Athens was ruled by the king named Kodra (1089—1068 BC), he had a son - Androcles. Like any normal ancient king, Kodra was a messenger of the gods on Earth, and had his priests and oracles. The famous Delphic Oracle predicted that Kodra will be the last king of Athens. That meant that he and his son should die! In fear for his son, Kodra turned to his priests for advice...
Without hesitation, king sent his son with the squad of the best warriors on a campaign. But he told him only the part where Oracle commands to establish a new city on the coast of the Aegean Sea next to the river named Kaistra. Moreover, the new city should be founded only "where three symbols comes together - fish, fire and wild boar" (Only in this way Androcles could avoid certain death). And Androklus found such a place.
For a long-long time the squad was wandering over the plains and the mountains in search of The Sign. Already desperate, having investigated the vast territory, he decided to return home. Before a long travel the warriors had decided to eat. They've caught a fish, lit a fire, threw dry pine branches into the fire and ... suddenly a spark from the fire flew off into the dry bush! Boar run out of the bush!
- The oracle's prediction has come true! - cried the prince and commanded to establish the city on this place.
Might be that this was the will of the gods indeed, but from that time the history of the ancient Ephesus has began.
But there was one thing, there was a warlike tribe of Amazons living on these lands. The Queen of the Amazons was a magnificent Ephesia (which means - "desired"). And she was so beautiful that Androcles fell in love with her at first sight. The Code of Amazons had ordered to beautiful warrior girls to kill a man with whom they spent the night by the morning. But Ephesia felt in love with the Greek prince so much, that she agreed to become his wife. And then, following the example of their queen, all the Amazons also found their husbands among the soldiers of Androcles. Enchanted by his wife Androcles named the city in her honor.
Ephesus - one of the few ancient cities where you can walk today looking at the architecture of past centuries. Ages ago the marble streets of Ephesus used to descended down the hillside to the sea harbor. The harbour used to host numerous amount of trade ships. So the city developed due to extensive trade until the III century BC when after a strong earthquake the sea retired descending to 57 meters. That was the beginning of the end. Once blooming city turned to a ghost town.
But every day it comes to life again, filled with the multilingual speech of tourists walking along its streets. A colorful crowd moving from the eastern gate down the hill, listening to entertaining guides' stories and barely succeeding in capturing all the sights in two hours of the excursion, clicking the cameras to the left and to the right.
The most famous building in the city is a library. An impressive massive two-storey facade is all what is left for us. But this library was the second large after Alexandrians library in Egypt and held over 12000 manuscripts.
City was covered with marble, head to toes decorated by mosaics, had very developed canalization and lots of culturally important buildings like mentioned library, Odeon (Small Theater), Agora (Bazaar square), whore house, amphitheater etc.
Mosaics were inside the houses and on the streets, on the walls and ceilings. You have to visit museum to see even more mosaics. :)
So that you understand the scale - the Amphitheater had 25,000 seats! Of course, in the II century the guests of Ephesus could not see the inside of the Theater from the street, because it was closed by a roof, but you can easily imagine how it looked then. And the view was great! Back then the harbor was practically next to it. When nowadays the Aegean coast is in a whole twelve kilometers away!
But nothing could beat Artemis temple. That was huge! 127 pillars 18 meters high. Nearly nothing is left of the passed glory, but once this temple was included in the list of Seven Wonders of the World.*
Wealth, art, sophistication - were 3 main words to describe Ephesus.
Even whore house was a kind of intellectual club :)It had a bath with pool and fountain surrounded with public toilet where ancient gentlemen were sitting all together and discussing latest political news and shared philosophical thoughts.
Ancient art keep on inspiring people over the centuries. Interesting thing. I've heard that NIKE took their "Swoosh" logo from this bas-relief of the goddess of victory Nike. Exactly from this part.
In the backside, behind the Temple of Artemis Ephesus, you can clearly see the large building. The church, which was built in the I century by the Roman Emperor Justinian. This church was built over the grave of St. John - one of the apostles! After the ascension of Christ St. John had arrived here along with Virgin Mary. At the foot of Bulbul Mountain, not far from the ruins of Ephesus there is the House of Virgin Mary, where she used to live. Some people says she lived there all her recent years...
But this is another story and another topic for our blog.
Streets of Ephesus.
* Seven Wonders of the World:
1 The Great Pyramids of Giza
2 The Hanging Gardens of Babylon
3 The Temple of Artemis in Ephesus
4 The Statue of Zeus at Olympia
5 The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
6 The Colossus of Rhodes
7 The Lighthouse of Alexandria