THE CELSUS LIBRARY (Ephesus)
The Celsus Library is one of the most spectacular buildings in Ephesus. It was built by the Council Gaius Julius Aquila in 110 A.D. as a memorial for his father Julius Celsus Polemeanus who was council before him and died at the age of 70. The construction was completed by Gaius' successors in 135 A.D. He had donated 25000 dinars for the completion and maintenance of the monumental library before his death. His father's tomb is kept in a specially made room under the ground floor. The body was kept in a lead container inside a marble tomb. This room can be accessed through a corridor connected to a gate behind the north wall.
Mainly the front monumental wall and the gates were renovated by archaeologist W.Strocka and architect/restorer F.Hueber between 1970 and 1978.
The entry to the library was through the 9 step stone stairs from the Curettes Road and reaching to the podium which was base to the four double columns supporting the building. These columns stand on square shaped pedestals. Right behind the columns after a narrow walk-way there were three gates. The middle one is wider and higher than the others. There were large windows just above the doors. Also in the second floor there were three windows on the front side wall to let the light go into the building.
The Celsus Library was two storey from the front face but the main reading area was located inside the building on a large single floor with a very high ceiling. The reading area was surrounded by a three storey storage place over-looking this main saloon. The hand-written books were handed to the readers to read in the main reading room by library officials. At one stage there estimated to be 12000 books in the library. Obviously, it was one of the largest library collections of the antiquity.
The library building was surrounded by second set of walls from outside to keep the humidity and the temperature variations outside. The internal dimensions of the library was 11 x 16.7 m.
The statue of Celsus which was found during the excavations are on display in Istanbul Archaeology Museum today.
The library was burned down totally approximately in the 3rd century. The front wall was not destroyed totally. It was restored after the disaster and a small pool was constructed right in front of the building. These restorations were done roughly in the 4th century. The sculptured monumental walls dedicated to the memory of the victory gained against the Parts by Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verius , standing in this pool are on exhibition in the Museum of Vienna today.
During the late Roman ages there was an Auditorium used by politicians, artists, public speakers built in front of the library next to the road. There are no remains of this structure today.
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