Cats of Ephesus

cats of ephesus

The Ancient City of Ephesus hosted many different civilizations throughout its history.
However its most recent inhabitants have probably been ignored by most of the history books and they are quite famous for hating being ignored.

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House of the Virgin Mary

house of the Virgin Mary
house of the Virgin Mary

House of the Virgin Mary

From the Magnesia Gate the road climbs to the south, arriving after 8 kilometers at the House of the Virgin Mary. Believed to be where the mother of Jesus spent her last years, the house sits in a forest on Mt Bülbül at an altitude of 358 meters above sea level.

Christian historians contend that in his dying moments, Jesus entrusted his mother to the care of his friend and apostle, John. Following the crucifixion, St John duly rescued Mary from the perilous crimes of Jerusalem and brought her to Ephesus. Here he moved her into a cabin on the lower slopes of Mt Bülbül, a safe distance from the pagan city center, and took care of her. Upon the Virgin’s death, purportedly at the age of 101, her body was buried by John at a secret location on Mt Bülbül. As Christianity began to spread, a church was built at the site of the cabin. As it stands today, the House of the Virgin Mary could be described as a modest, cruciform chapel with a small narthex. The statue seen in the apse was a later addition. In front of the apse is a heart of black marble, while the room to the right is where the Virgin is believed to have slept. 

The present building is dated to the eleven century; however , the earliest construction phase probably goes back to the first century AD, with extensive renovation in the eleventh century giving the shrine its present-day appearance, notwithstanding later restoration. Significantly, the house is also considered sacred by the Muslim world.

Early in the ninetieth century, the invalid German nun, Sister Catherine Emmerich (1774-1824), allegedly had a vision in which the location of the House of the Virgin Mary was revealed to her. Moved by the accounts of the vision, two Lazarist priests from Izmir set out in 1891 and discovered the ruins of a building, as discovered by Emmerich, along with a spring. After marking out a trail to the site of the ruins, they began organizing annual pilgrimages. A year later, in 1892, the House of the Virgin was declared a place of pilgrimage by the Archbishop Timoni of Izmir. The Vatican, too, has since recognized the house as one of the world’s most sacred buildings. 

A bronze statue of the Virgin uncovered in on-site excavations is now displayed at the chapel entrance with its dismembered arm reinstated. Today, the modest shrine attracts thousands of pilgrims and visitors of different faiths from all over the world. Even papal visits have been known, the first made in 1967, by Paul VI, the second by John Paul II in 1979 and the third by Pope Benedict XVI in 2006. Another popular event at the site is the services held every year on August 15th, to celebrate the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.

Temple of the State Agora (Isis Temple)

isis temple ephesus
isis temple ephesus

Temple of the State Agora (Isis Temple)

On the west side of the State Agora there once stood a temple, which is thought probably to have been built in 29 BC. Initial suggestions were that the temple was erected by Marc Antony and Cleopatra to the Egyptian deity, Isis, or the god, Dionysus; opinion later shifted and it was held that the ruins belonged to a temple dedicated to Augustus. In the most recent research, however, the temple has been identified as a shrine to the divine Caesar and the Dea Roma, built by the Conventus Civium Romanorum (association of Roman Citizens). The temple measured 28 x 15 meters and its facades were lined with 6 x 19 columns. Constructed on a peripteral plan, the temple was destroyed in Late Antiquity. Its architectural elements were later used in the restoration of other buildings around the city.

The Odeon

Ephesus odeon
Ephesus odeon

The Odeon

The Odeon is striking building the northern part of the State Agora, not far from the southeast visitors entrance. 

Known to have had seating capacity of 1400, the roofed building served a rather different function from that of large theatre. It was built in 150 AD by Publius Vedius Antoninus of the prestigious Vedius family as an Odeion (concert hall) or Bouleuterion (assembly chamber). Portraits of the imperial family and missives from Emperor Antoninus Pius have been found in the scene

By virtue of its single-pitch timber roof, the building was able to hold meetings and concerts all through the year, regardless of the weather. The bottom five tiers of the caves survive in their original form, while the lion’s paw motifs on the staircases are particularly are particularly eye-catching. A head of Eros unearthed in excavations is on display at the Ephesus Museum. 

Temenos

Ephesus temenos
Ephesus temenos

Temenos (Rhodian Peristyle)

In the western section of the Bouleuterion there is an open-air courtyard known as the ‘Rhodian Peristyle’. Measuring 33 x 28 meters, the courtyard is bordered on three sides by stoas and derived its name from the elevated height of the columns on the east side, a characteristic of the so-called ‘Rhodian peristyle’. Research has pointed out architectural similarities with the Temple of Artemis, citing the structure’s fluted pedestals, their Torus moulding and the Ionic columns mounted on top. The western section features a podium faced with orthostates and accessed by a broad stairway.

However, because other buildings were constructed over it in later periods, little of the original structure survives. Scholars have put forward different theories as to the podium’s function. One view maintains that it once supported a complex accommodating an altar or two small temples; others have interpreted the structure as a twin shrine to Divus Caesar and Dea Roma; and yet another opinion argues that it may have been an altar dedicated to the worship of Artemis and Augustus. This last theory is supported by findings in the near vicinity, which include an inscription, statues of Artemis and a portrait of the emperor.