Library of Celsus in Ephesus

The Library of Celsus in Ephesus

One of the most recognized and most famous buildings of the ancient city of Ephesis is the Library of Celsus. Before traveling to Turkey and reading up on the history of this ancient city I admit that I thought this Library was the most significant part of Ephesus. I quickly learned that it is the one structure that is most in tact although other buildings like the Temple of Artemis was actually what made Ephesus famous.

Library of Celsus in Ephesus
It was built in 117 A.D. It was a monumental tomb for Gaius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus, the governor of the province of Asia

Ephesus contains the largest collection of Roman ruins in the eastern Mediterranean. As I walked through these ruins on the marble pathways and roads that have been restored I again marveled at the amazing structures there must have been. Only an estimated 15% has been excavated so far and so many treasures could still be unearthed. The ruins that are visible give some idea of the city’s original splendor but as so much has been destroyed or removed I think it is going to be hard to picture the full magnificence of what this city once was.

Library of Celsus in Ephesus
This library is one of the most beautiful structures in Ephesus.

As I walked down the column lined Harbor Street down towards where the the harbour used to be I was greeted by what is left of this magnificent Library of Celsus. All that is left of this world famous library is the façade which has been carefully reconstructed from all its original pieces.

Library of Celsus in Ephesus
The facade of the library has two-stories, with Corinthian style columns on the ground floor and three entrances to the building.

Designed with an exaggerated entrance the building faces east so that the reading rooms could make best use of the morning light.

Library of Celsus in Ephesus
The scrolls of the manuscripts were kept in cupboards in niches on the walls. There were double walls behind the bookcases to prevent the them from the extremes of temperature and humidity.

This Library was originally built c. 125 AD in memory of Tiberius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus, an Ancient Greek who served as governor of Roman Asia (105–107) in theRoman Empire. Celsus paid for the construction of the library with his own personal wealth and is buried in a sarcophagus beneath it. It is not clear of they have excavated this sarcophagus or if he still rests below his beloved library. The library once held nearly 12,000 scrolls, histories and legends that are now lost forever. Every now and again there are stories or legends about some of these scrolls that survived but they have never turned up anywhere.

Library of Celsus in Ephesus
The Gate of Mazeus and Mythridates.
The gate with three passage ways at the right of the Celsus Library was built in 40 A.D by the slaves Mazeus and Mythridates for their emperor, Augustus, who gave them their freedom.


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