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Brothel and Latrine, Ephesus

Photo © Andrys Basten. View all images in our Brothel and Latrine Photo Gallery.
Photo © Yulia.
Photo © Adrià Ariste Santacreu.
Photo © Reid Ellis.

The brothel and public latrine of ancient Ephesus are located directly across Marble Street from the Library of Celsus. Both date from the 1st century AD. Of course neither of these are a sacred site, but these less glamorous structures help bring ancient Ephesus to life.


The brothel originally had two floors, with ground floor entrances on both Marble Street and on Curetes Street. On the latter, an etched footprint in the marble famously shows the way.

The rooms of the ground floor, one of which has a stone bed, were built around a small atrium. The floor of the main reception room was covered with a mosaic of the four seasons. The personified figures of Winter (with head covered) and Autumn (with a garland of flowers) are still well preserved. The cubicles used by the prostitutes to entertain their clients were on the upper floor.

The ithyphallic figurine of Priapus or Bes, now in the Ephesus Museum, was found in a well on the side of the brothel near Curetes Street. The well is still in use. Of Egyptian origin, Bes was not the god of the brothel, but the protector of everything associated with motherhood and childbearing.


The 1st-century Roman latrine of Ephesus was rather advanced and civilized for its time. It was constructed over a channel with an uninterrupted flow of water and the toilet seats, formed by cutting holes into marble benches that line the walls, were covered by a roof.

The rest of the large room was open to the sky, and had an impluvium (a sunken pool for catching rainwater) in the center. The floor was covered with mosaics.

Quick Facts on Brothel and Latrine

Site Information
Names:Brothel; Brothel, Ephesus
Categories:Ancient Cities
Visitor and Contact Information
Location:Ephesus, Turkey
Coordinates:37.938977° N, 27.341312° E  (view on Google Maps)
Lodging:View hotels near this location
Note: This information was accurate when first published and we do our best to keep it updated, but details such as opening hours can change without notice. To avoid disappointment, please check with the site directly before making a special trip.

Map of Brothel and Latrine

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  1. Bernard McDonagh, Blue Guide Turkey 3rd ed. (2001), 223.

More Information

Article Info

Title:Brothel and Latrine, Ephesus
Author:Holly Hayes
Last updated:07/18/2009
Link code:<a href="http://www.sacred-destinations.com/turkey/ephesus-brothel-and-latrine">Brothel and Latrine, Ephesus</a>