Temple of Artemis

The Temple of Artemis is one of the archaeological treasures in the country of Turkey. Built by the Greeks, the site later became an important site to Christians. Many centuries after it was first built, the temple continues to welcome pilgrims and others curious people eager to connect with history and to see one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

The Temple of Artemis in Ephesus Turkey is located an easy drive distance from the modern-day city of Izmir. Its history provides a peek into the ancient Greek religious customs. The temple, sometimes known as the Temple of Diana, was dedicated to Artemis, a Greek goddess who was the twin sister of Apollo. She replaced Selene, becoming goddess of the moon. The Cult of Artemis chose an already sacred site when they built the first shrine. The first Temple of Artemis was built around 650 BC, financed by a king of Lydia who wanted to ensure protection from future earthquakes. The temple quickly gained attention of other wealthy people and worshipers.

The history continues on the night that Alexander the Great was born—a fire destroyed the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus Turkey. When the young man rose to power, he offered to finance another temple, though religious leaders refused, saying it would be right one god to pay for another god's temple. The temple was eventually rebuilt and was standing when Saint Paul visited Ephesus. It again was destroyed, this time during the reign of Nero. And again was rebuilt, but it was never the same again. Eventually the marble of the Temple of Artemis was repurposed in churches and other Christians sites, including Ephesus, one of the Seven Churches of Asia mentioned in the Book of Revelation. Also, it is the namesake of one of the books of the Bible, a letter penned by Saint Paul. The temple was rediscovered in the 1860s on an archaeological dig hosted by the British Museum.

Today's visitors to the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus Turkey will not find a fully formed building, but rather a single column that's a reminder of times past. All that remains is one enormous stone column, a lone reminder of the grand structure once dedicated to the goddess Artemis. The temple was built in a marsh and some things have not changed; the marshy ground recedes in the summertime. When the weather is warm, you're more likely to see the foundations of the ancient temple.

The site is free to visit. If you'd like to know more about its history, a good guide can bring the story of the temple to life. The guided experience will be well worth the extra fee. They'll explain just how massive the temple was in its glory days. The marble structure would have been 180 feet and 377 feet long, complete with 127 60-foot-high Ionic columns. The guide also can talk about the artwork that would have been house within these walls—sculptures created by Greek masters stood beside gold and silver work and large-scale paintings. Some of the works depicted the Amazons-the mythical tribe and reputed founders of the city of Ephesus.

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