10 Facts About the Temple of Artemis

The Temple of Artemis, also known as the Artemesium, was a magnificent ancient Greek temple dedicated to the goddess Artemis. Located in the city of Ephesus, in present-day Turkey, it stood as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Built between 550 BCE and 440 BCE, the temple was renowned for its grandeur, colossal size, and intricate artwork.

With its impressive dimensions, forest of marble columns, and captivating sculptures, the Temple of Artemis symbolized the wealth, cultural sophistication, and religious devotion of ancient Ephesus.

Despite its tumultuous history of destruction and rebuilding, the remnants of this revered sanctuary continue to captivate visitors today.

The Temple of Artemis Facts

1. Ancient Greek temple dedicated to Artemis

The Temple of Artemis was an ancient Greek temple dedicated to the goddess Artemis, who was the goddess of hunting, wilderness, and fertility.

Also Read: Facts About the Statue of Zeus at Olympia

Artemis was highly revered in the Greek pantheon, and the temple was built as a place of worship and to honor her.

2. Located in Ephesus, Turkey

The temple was situated in the city of Ephesus, which was an important center of trade and culture in ancient Anatolia, present-day Turkey.

Ephesus was a prosperous city and a significant hub of the Eastern Mediterranean region, making it an ideal location for the grand temple.

3. One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

The Temple of Artemis was included in the list of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, a compilation of remarkable structures from the classical era.

This prestigious list, created by various ancient Greek authors, highlighted extraordinary achievements in architecture and engineering.

The inclusion of the Temple of Artemis among the 7 Wonders showcased its immense cultural and artistic significance, as well as its impact on the ancient world.

4. Constructed between 550 BCE and 440 BCE

The construction of the Temple of Artemis spanned a period of approximately 110 years, from 550 BCE to 440 BCE. The initial construction began around 550 BCE and was overseen by the architect Chersiphron and his son Metagenes.

However, it is important to note that the temple underwent subsequent renovations and expansions throughout its existence.

The first phase of construction, carried out by Chersiphron and Metagenes, laid the foundation for the grand temple. This initial construction involved creating the massive platform and the base of the columns.

The architects employed innovative engineering techniques, including using logs and stones as the foundation to support the structure on the marshy ground.

The subsequent phases of construction involved the addition of the iconic columns and the refinement of architectural details. Over time, the temple grew in size and splendor.

The final phase of construction was completed around 440 BCE, resulting in the completion of the temple’s majestic form that would earn its place as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

5. Impressive size: 137 meters long and 69 meters wide

The Temple of Artemis was an architectural marvel and one of the largest temples of its time. Its impressive dimensions included a length of approximately 137 meters (450 feet) and a width of about 69 meters (225 feet).

This colossal size made it one of the largest temples in the ancient world, demonstrating the significance and wealth of the city of Ephesus.

6. Had 127 marble columns, each 18 meters high

The temple boasted a forest of 127 columns, each soaring to a height of around 18 meters (60 feet). These columns were made of marble, a prized material in ancient Greece.

The columns were adorned with intricate carvings and decorated with ornate capitals. The sheer number and scale of these columns added to the temple’s majestic appearance, creating an awe-inspiring sight for visitors and pilgrims.

7. Known for its artwork and sculptures

The architectural and artistic excellence of the Temple of Artemis extended beyond its monumental structure. The temple was adorned with exquisite artwork and sculptures, which further enhanced its beauty and religious significance.

Elaborate friezes and reliefs depicted various mythological scenes and tales related to Artemis and other gods. These artistic elements served to educate and inspire worshipers, as well as showcase the artistic skills and cultural sophistication of ancient Greece.

Additionally, the temple served as a repository for numerous valuable offerings and treasures brought by devotees, making it a significant cultural and religious center of its time.

8. Destroyed and rebuilt multiple times

The Temple of Artemis endured a turbulent history, marked by several instances of destruction and subsequent rebuilding. These episodes of destruction were caused by various factors such as natural disasters, human actions, and conflicts. Here are some notable instances of destruction and reconstruction:

  1. Flood Destruction – The first recorded destruction of the temple occurred in the 7th century BCE when a severe flood damaged the structure. It led to the need for significant repairs and reconstruction efforts.
  2. Fire Destruction by Herostratus – The most infamous destruction of the temple happened in 356 BCE when Herostratus, seeking personal fame, set fire to the temple. The blaze consumed the entire structure, reducing it to ashes.
  3. Reconstruction by Alexander the Great – Following the fire, the renowned conqueror Alexander the Great offered to fund the reconstruction of the temple. However, the Ephesians, out of respect for the temple’s previous glory, declined his offer. Nevertheless, the reconstruction efforts commenced and the temple was rebuilt.
  4. Destruction during Roman Invasion – The Temple of Artemis faced another devastating blow in 262 CE during the invasion of the Goths. The invaders destroyed the temple as part of their assault on the city of Ephesus.
  5. Christian Zealot Destruction – The final destruction of the temple occurred in the 5th century CE. As Christianity gained prominence in the Roman Empire, Christian zealots sought to eradicate pagan worship. In their pursuit, they demolished the remaining structures of the Temple of Artemis, ending its long-standing presence.

Despite these repeated acts of destruction, the temple was rebuilt each time, either to its original grandeur or with modifications.

9. Famous destruction in 356 BCE by fire

In 356 BCE, the Temple of Artemis faced a famous and devastating destruction caused by fire. The incident is attributed to a man named Herostratus, who sought personal fame and notoriety by setting fire to the sacred structure.

Legend has it that Herostratus carried out this act on the same night that Alexander the Great was born. The fire quickly engulfed the temple, reducing it to ruins.

The destruction of the Temple of Artemis in 356 BCE was a significant event, not only due to the loss of an architectural marvel but also because it captured the attention of the ancient world.

The temple’s destruction caused shock and sorrow among the people, as it was one of the most revered religious sites of its time. This act of arson by Herostratus succeeded in achieving his desired infamy, as his name became associated with the destruction of such a renowned structure.

10. Ruins remain today at the Ephesus archaeological site

Today, only fragmented ruins remain at the archaeological site of Ephesus, serving as a testament to the temple’s former glory.

Visitors can explore the remnants of the foundation and some surviving columns, providing glimpses of the temple’s massive scale.

While the physical structure of the temple is mostly lost, some artifacts and sculptures from the temple can be found in various museums worldwide, showcasing the exceptional craftsmanship and cultural significance associated with the Temple of Artemis. Notably, the British Museum in London houses some notable pieces from the temple, allowing visitors to appreciate its artistic legacy.