Why You Shouldn’t Visit the Temple of Artemis, One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

posted in: Aegean Coast, History 4

The Antipater of Sidon, a famous Greek poet lived during the latter half of the 2nd century BC. During his travels, he visited landmarks belonging to the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. This included the Temple of Artemis that now stands near the ancient ruins of Ephesus, in Selcuk on the Aegean coast of Turkey.

The Greek Temple, also known as the Temple of Diana, was built in honour of the goddess of fertilely Artemis and was rebuilt two more times, until its final destruction in 401. Historians report that 800 years later, remains of the temple could not be found and locals knew nothing of its existence. History had forgotten it.

In 1869, an expedition funded by the British museum, discovered the lost temple and excavations carried on until 1874. During that time, most artefacts were taken out the country and are now on display in the British Museum of London. The story varies according to who you speak to, as to whether the artefacts were smuggled out or permission was granted by the totally broke and penniless Ottoman government.

Visiting the Temple of Artemis

Anyway, the Antipater of Sidon said upon visiting…

“I have set eyes on the wall of lofty Babylon on which is a road for chariots, and the statue of Zeus by the Alpheus, and the hanging gardens, and the colossus of the Sun, and the huge labour of the high pyramids, and the vast tomb of Mausolus; but when I saw the house of Artemis that mounted to the clouds, those other marvels lost their brilliancy, and I said, ‘Lo, apart from Olympus, the Sun never looked on aught so grand.”

My words upon visiting were…

“What the f*** did I come here for?”

Now before you accuse me of disrespecting history, let me show you something. According to historians, this is more or less an accurate portrayal of how the temple looked.

Temple of Artemis

(Model of the Temple of Artemis at Miniaturk)

Now, this is what I saw…

Temple of Artemis at Ephesus Selcuk

Can you understand my disappointment?

I spent more time taking photos of turtles, a duck swimming in the swamp land and a lonely stork who had built a nest on top of the single column. After I put my camera away, an old, smelly gentleman who tried to flog fake coins to me for 500 USD, would not stop following me about. Imagine my rage, especially since I had forgotten to take my Xanax!

Perhaps I had put too much emphasis on the importance of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World but I couldn’t understand why the historical world turned its back on the magnificent temple. I thought of the treasures that lay buried beneath the earth. I thought of the artefacts that would be uncovered and the neglect was hard to comprehend.

temple of artemis at ephesus selcuk turkey

Then the Turkish Newspaper called the Hurriyet Daily News published an article. Excavations were to start again at the temple because visitor numbers were extremely low! Better late than never as they say! So, visit the temple if you drive directly past the entrance, otherwise don’t make a special detour.

However, I will be keeping my eye on excavations for the next 10 years. Maybe one day, we will see a glimpse of the former glory of the Temple of Artemisir?t=turtrablo0e 20&l=as2&o=1&a=B00JRG2U6A, considered by the Antipater of Sidon, to be one of the best Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

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Hi. I'm Natalie, a freelance travel blogger and writer specializing in the country of Turkey. I love hot summer days, historical sites and coffee.

4 Responses

  1. Jacob Manz

    The ancient world was ushered out and replaced with the middle ages. During the middle ages, Christianity spread throughout the Roman empire and no longer were the pagan gods of the Greek tolerated. Thus the temple was left to be destroyed by nature again.The remains of The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus should not be spit on like any other rock.
    This magnificent structure was crafted on several different occasions accross a milenia as a testament to its briliance as an artifact. You’re judging the appearance of an artifact that is beyond your capacity of understanding. The big picture is what is most important when recognizing this work of art-which even Alexander the Great visited.

  2. Turtle

    Ha ha – that’s hilarious!! Those two photos really made me laugh out loud. What an absolute disappointment!
    I don’t mind going to ruins that don’t look exactly how they used to (that’s the point of ruins) but you would expect a bit more than that at such an important site!

  3. Oh, goodness. I would have been disappointed too. I’ve been to the ruins at Ephesus. I found them interesting, and the tour was informative.

  4. I must admit that I just laughed when I scrolled down and saw that one still standing pillar. Those have got to be the worst ruins I’ve ever seen and I can totally understand your disappoint!