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Library of Celsus, Ephesus

Photo © Mitch Allen. View all images in our Library of Celsus Photo Gallery.
Photo © Helen Betts.
Photo © Carmen.
Photo © Carmen.
Photo © Carmen.
Photo © Helen Betts.

The Library of Celsus is a Roman mausoleum and library built in the early 2nd century AD. As one of the most beautifully reconstructed buildings in Ephesus, it has become an icon of the ancient city.

History

The Library of Celsus was comissioned by the Consul Julius Aquila as a mausoleum for his father, Julius Celsus Polemaeanus, Roman governor of the Asian Provinces. It may be that Celsus was granted heroic honors, which would furthur justify the expense.

The monument was constructed between 110 and 135 AD, after which Celsus was buried in a niche on the right side of the back wall.

With a few centuries of its construction a fire destroyed the reading room and the library fell into disuse. Around 400 AD, the courtyard below the exterior steps was converted into a pool. The facade collapsed in an earthquake in the 10th century.

The Library of Celsus was raised from the rubble to its present splendid state by F. Hueber of the Austrian Archaeological Institute between 1970 and 1978.

What to See

Located next to the south gate, the Library of Celsus is 21m wide and over 16m high with a 2.4m-deep portico. The mausoleum-library originally had three stories, with galleries in the upper two stories.

Scrolls and codexes were stored in the niches, dispensed by a librarian. In total, 30 bookcases held about 12,000 scrolls. The reading room faced east in order to take advantage of the best light.

The lower niches of the facade contain four statues, which are through to represent Wisdom, Knowledge, Destiny, and Intelligence. These are replicas of the originals that are now in Vienna.

Latin and Greek inscriptions can be seen among the ruins of the library.

Quick Facts on Library of Celsus

Site Information
Names:Library of Celsus; Library of Celsus, Ephesus
City:Ephesus
Country:Turkey
Categories:Monuments
Faiths:Ancient Roman
Styles:Roman; Classical
Status:ruins
Visitor and Contact Information
Location:Ephesus, Turkey
Coordinates:37.939159° N, 27.340690° 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 Library of Celsus

Below is a location map and aerial view of Library of Celsus. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.

References

  1. Frommer's Turkey, 3rd ed.
  2. Library of Celsus at Ephesus - W.A. Johnson, University of Cincinnati
  3. Franz von Miltner, Ephesos: Stadt der Artemis und des Johannes (Wien : F. Deuticke, 1958), 55.

More Information

Article Info

Title:Library of Celsus, Ephesus
Author:Holly Hayes
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