The temple of Artemis was located in the ancient city of Ephesus. At present practically nothing remains of him, but we can get to know him through reading. It has many interesting stories to offer!
The temple of Artemis was one of the seven wonders of ancient times. It was located three kilometers northwest of the ancient city of Ephesus, in present-day Turkey. Currently, the closest city is Seculk, in the province of Izmir, within the Aegean region. Also, the important port city of Izmir is located approximately 50 kilometers away. Hence the strategic position of the temple of Artemis on the pilgrimage routes.
The interest of the city of Selcuk is not so much due to its charms for travelers, but because it is a place of passage to or from Ephesus. That is why the city does not have much tourism, quite the contrary: it keeps all the essence of a typically Turkish city. Its neighborhoods, streets and shops transport the traveler to deep Turkey.
The origin of the temple of Artemis
Artemis, in Greek mythology, was the daughter of the god Zeus and the twin sister of Apollo. She was the Greek goddess who embodied fertility, hunting and war. This virgin goddess did not like male contact, and that is why in many places of worship dedicated to this goddess, access to men is not allowed.
She was generally represented outdoors, in wooded areas, accompanied by animals. In this sense, the dichotomy between being a goddess of hunting and a protective goddess of animals is curious.
Their temples are usually built in areas far from urban centers, in contact with nature, as is the case with the Temple of Artemis. The place where it was located was a swampy area and was often flooded, so it was often isolated from the city itself.
Construction of the temple of Artemis
The temple of Artemis, also known as Artemision, was designed by the architect Quersiphon under the orders of King Crassus of Lydia, who ordered its construction in the 6th century BC.
The construction was based on the canons of classical Hellenic architecture. It had a large rectangular room, called cella, where was the imposing statue of the goddess Artemis. This sculpture was about two meters high, made of wood and covered with silver and gold.
The roof consisted of two slightly sloping slopes. The pediments were triangular and profusely decorated with different scenes.
The building was surrounded by two rows of columns, some 127 to be precise, that were approximately 18 meters high. Some of them were carved and all appeared with large decorative elements.
Herostratus, the beginning of the decadence
Associated with the history of the temple of Artemis there is a name: Eróstrato. This character caused a fire in the 4th century BC that ended up destroying the entire temple. Herostratus did it to become famous. From this fact arose the term “erostratismo”, which means ‘the mania that leads to committing criminal acts to gain renown’.
Beyond this unfortunate fact, the Artemision was rebuilt. In the year 334 BC, Alexander the Great himself conquered the city of Ephesus from the Persians and offered to pay for the restoration of the temple in exchange for a dedication, but they declined his help.
The temple, although rebuilt, never again had the splendor it had in its early years. In this way, little by little, what had been one of the seven wonders of the ancient world began to decline.
Over time, it was subject to constant looting. After the Roman invasion of 189 BC, Christianity became strong in the place. Subsequently, the temple of Artemis, a wonder of antiquity, was gradually abandoned. It then began to be used as a quarry to extract marble and use it in the construction of other buildings.
Finally, in the s. III AD, was destroyed by the Goths. Today, there are very few visible remains of the temple of Artemis; in fact, only one of the more than one hundred columns that the original construction had remains standing.
Functionality of the temple of Artemis
The temple of Artemis was one of the favorite places of worship. There, the faithful, went to pay tribute and leave offerings to the goddess; what’s more, pilgrimages to reach this temple were made from all over the world. Ephesus, a very large and famous city, has always been one of the most important pilgrimage sites in the world from ancient times.
Due to all the facts narrated previously, we cannot know the temple of Artemis in person. However, we can still travel to it through archeology and books. It is a different way to enjoy a place with so much history!