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My Favourite Planet > English > Middle East > Turkey > Ephesus > photo gallery
Ephesus, Turkey Ephesus photo gallery 1 32 of 62

The interior of the Library of Celsus, Ephesus, Turkey at My Favourite Planet

The southwest corner of the interior of the Library of Celsus.
The Library of Celsus

3. Inside the library

Today the interior of the library does not look quite as splendid as the facade, and the walls of the back and sides are of brick and undecorated stone rather than marble. The back of the facade which comprises the east wall of the interior, as restored, is quite plain (see photo below). It is surprisingly small, a single room measuring only 16.72 by 10.92 metres, with no adjoining rooms. However, there were originally two upper galleries running right around the walls of the room. Some of the bases of the columns which supported the galleries can still be seen.

It has been estimated that the wooden shelving cabinets which once stood in the niches in the walls held as many as 12,000 books, mostly in the form of papyrus rolls.

The room was presumably also luxuriously designed, with decorated walls, furniture, statues and perhaps paintings. In the apse in the far (west) wall of the library (on the right in the photo above) once stood a statue, perhaps of Athena (as in the Library of Pergamon), Apollo, a Roman emperor or even Celsus himself.

<>In an attempt to make the space more interesting for visitors, various information boards (in Turkish and German, with some copies of Ancient Greek and Latin inscriptions, see gallery page 30) have been set up inform visitors what would have been here if most of it had not been destroyed over the centuries or carried off to various museums.

The relatively small area taken up by the library is due to the fact that it was constructed between earlier buildings and monuments such as the neighbouring Gate of Mazeus and Mithridates.

The apparently disproportionate grandeur of the facade, on the other hand, can be explained by the fact that it was built as a heroon (mausoleum [1]) for Celsus (see gallery page 30), where he would be honoured as a hero. The most important object inside is the tomb and sarcophagus of Celsus, which is in a basement chamber below the apse, accessed by a narrow corridor entered from outside the north wall. Unfortunately this is not open to the public.

The sarcophagus, 2.68 m long, 1.10 m wide and 1.75 m high, was carved from a single marble block and decorated with reliefs of garlands supported at each corner by small figures of Eros and Nike. The narrowness of the corridor leading to the underground tomb (less than 90 cm at its narrowest) has led archaeologists to conclude that the sarcophagus was placed there before the library was built.

Burial was usually forbidden within Greek and Roman cities, but the wealth, power and influence of Celsus and his family permitted him to be a priviliged exception.

A marble statue of a Sophist from Ephesus at My Favourite Planet

Detail of a marble statue
of a Sophist from Ephesus.

Found in the Vedius Gymnasium.
Roman period, 193-211 AD.
Height 115 cm.

Izmir Museum of History and Art.
Inv. No. 570.

The central doorway of the Library of Celsus from inside the facade at My Favourite Planet

The central doorway of the Library of Celsus from inside the facade.

On either side of the doorway are modern inscriptions in German (left) and
Turkish commemorating the reconstruction of the library (see photo below).

The apse on the west wall of the Celsus Library interior at My Favourite Planet

The apse on the west wall of the library interior. In the basement below is Celsus' sarcophagus.

A statue base in the apse of the Celsus Library interior at My Favourite Planet

A base set up in the apse of the library interior, where once a statue stood.

A multilingual information board in the Celsus Library at My Favourite Planet

One of the multilingual information boards in the Celsus Library. Some are in
German and Turkish only, others also in English. They show the layout and
construction methods of the library, as well as details of how it was restored.
There is also information about Celsus' tomb and the inscriptions on the building.

Fascinating for statistics fans is a board with tables showing details of the
14850 person-hours it took to complete the reconstruction of the library during
the 888 days (650 working days) of the project 1970-1978, by the archaeologist,
architect, civil engineer, assistants, restorers, machine operators, photographer
and labourers. There is no mention of the person who made the tea.

An inscription commemorating the reconstruction of the Celsus Library at My Favourite Planet

An inscription in German on the inside of the library facade, commemorating the reconstruction
of the building 1970-1978 by Hermann Vetters, Volker Michael Strocka, Friedmund Hueber
and Anton K. Prskawetz for the Austrian Archaeological Institute (ÖAI).

Hanging out in the library at My Favourite Planet

Hanging out in the library.
Notes, references and links

1. Heroon

A heroon (ἡρῷον; plural ἡρῷα, heroa) was a shrine dedicated to a Greek or Roman hero or heroine, often built over their supposed tomb or cenotaph (symbolic empty tomb), where they were regularly honoured or worshippped, as part of their hero cult. They ranged from small family shrines to monumental tombs such as the Mausoleum of Mausolos in Halicarnassus in Caria (Bodrum, Turkey). See photos and information about hero reliefs on Pergamon gallery 2, page 10.
Photos, articles and map: © David John,
except where otherwise specified.

Additional photos: © Konstanze Gundudis

All photos and articles are copyright protected.

Images and materials by other authors
have been attributed where applicable.

Please do not use these photos or articles without permission.

If you are interested in using any of the photos for your website,
project or publication, please get in contact.

Higher resolution versions are available on request.

Some of the information and photos in this guide to Ephesus
originally appeared in 2004 on
See also
The Cheshire Cat Blog
photo essays about Turkey:

Istanbul Essentials part 1

Istanbul Essentials part 2

Istanbul Essentials part 3
with video

Ionian Spring part 1

Ionian Spring part 2

Ionian Spring part 3
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