Temple of Artemis is located at the ancient city of Ephesus, near the modern town
of Selcuk. It is about 50 km south of Izmir (Smyrna) in Turkey.
Although the foundation of the temple dates back to the seventh
century BC, the structure that earned a spot in the list of Wonders was built around 550
BC. The temple served as both a marketplace and a religious institution. For years, the
sanctuary was visited by merchants, tourists, artisans and kings who paid homage to the
goddess by sharing their profits with her. Recent archeological excavations at the site
revealed gifts from pilgrims including statuettes of Artemis made of gold and ivory...
earrings, bracelets and necklaces... artifacts from as far as Persia and India.
On the night of 21 July 356 BC, a man named Herostratus burned the temple to ground in an
attempt to immortalize his name. He did indeed. Strangely enough, Alexander the Great was
born the same night. The Roman historian Plutarch later wrote that the goddess was
"too busy taking care of the birth of Alexander to send help to her threatened
temple". And when Alexander the Great conquered Asia Minor, he helped rebuild the
The temple was again destroyed by the Goths in AD 262, and the Ephesians vowed to rebuild.
By the fourth century AD, most Ephesians had converted to Christianity and the temple lost
its religious glamor.
The final chapter came when in AD 401 the Temple of Artemis was torn down by St John
Chrysostom. Ephesus was later deserted and only in the late nineteenth century has the
site been excavated. The digging revealed the temple's foundation and the road to the now
The foundation of the temple was rectangular in form, similar to most temples at
the time. Unlike other sanctuaries, however, the building was made of marble, with a
decorated fašade overlooking a spacious courtyard. The columns were 20 m (60 ft) high
with Ionic capitals and carved circular sides. There were 127 columns in total, aligned
orthogonally over the whole platform area, except for the central cella or house of the
goddess. When St Paul visited the city, the temple was adorned with golden pillars and
silver statuettes, and was decorated with paintings. There is no evidence that a statue of
the goddess herself was placed at the center of the sanctuary.However, its true beauty
lies in the architectural and artistic details which will forever remain unknown.