Harbour Street (Arcadiane) in Ephesus

The Harbour Street (Arcadian) of Ephesus

This street led to the harbor from the Great Theatre and was lined with columns along each side for its length of 530 m. Its width is 21 m. This street, which was the most important one in the city, was restored by Emperor Arcadius (395 – 408 A.D.). so it was called Arcadian after him.

Harbour Street of Ephesus
Harbour Street of Ephesus

The middle section is paved with marble and is 11 m. wide; both pillared side sections of the street are 5 m. wide each. According to the knowledge acquired through excavations, the street, decorated with statues, was illuminated by candle-like street lamps at night. There was a Harbour Gate at the place where the street came to the sea. This gate still stands there in its elegance but photos can’t be taken of it because of the marshy land around it. There was a sewage system under the street. In the distance on the horizon, you can discern the hill over which St. Paulus was put into prison and for this reason, it is called the Prison of St. Paulus.

A reconstruction of "Middle Harbour Gate" of Ephesus
A reconstruction of the “Middle Harbour Gate” of Ephesus, made in 1897

Four monumental columns thought to date to the 4th century are to be found in the center of the harbor road. Although it is not known why these were originally erected, they are thought to have been born the statues of the four authors of the New Testament.

History of the Arkadiane Street (Harbour)

The history of this columned road dedicated to the Roman emperor Arcadius goes back to the Hellenistic period. As a matter of fact, it was revealed that the ruins of the propylon (*) on the west side, i.e. the side of the seaport, belong to the Hellenistic period. The columned monument bearing the statue of the four disciples and called the “Four disciples monument” was added to a point near the middle of Arkadiane. On both sides of this marble-covered street with a width of 11 meters and length of 600 meters, were the mosaic-coated pavements shaded by the stoas which were formed by the roofs placed on the 5-meter-high columns. The rows of shops were located behind these.

Harbour Street from Great Theather of Ephesus
Harbour Street from Great Theather of Ephesus

An Inscription About Taxes Found

This street has a perfect drainage system on its sides and below its ground and being illuminated also at the night, was certainly one of the most important places in the city, with respect to commerce and many other aspects. An inscription belonging to the registered office found on the side of the road here provides interesting information: License for a vegetable selling bench=1 denarius, declaration of the contest winner=6 denarius, birth record=1 denarius, in case of the mother being prohibited (mom or slave), this fee for a license was increased to 100 denarius.

Number 25 (Harbour Street)
Number 25 (Harbour Street)

The street that stretches between the Theatre and the harbor is called both Arcadiana and Harbour Street. Since Arcadius (395-408), son of the Eastern Roman Emperor Theodosius, remodeled and repaired the road and erected an inscription, the street is called Arcadiana.

On both sides of Harbour Street, there were covered porticos, the floors of which were paved with mosaics, and behind these porticos, there were stores. The street was first built in the 1st century B.C. and it was truly a ceremonial road. The roads from Anatolia ended here. Many famous personalities who came from overseas, as well as emperors and proconsuls, entered the city through this street.

Great Theather view from Harbour Street
Great Theather view from Harbour Street

Inscriptions About the Story of Androklos

One of the inscriptions unearthed during excavations states “On the columned porticos along both sides of Arcadiane, there are fifty lamps up to the statue of the boar. During antiquity, very few cities were lit. Among these, we can name only Rome, Ephesus, and Antioch. The boar mentioned in the text refers to the boar in the story of the establishment of Ephesus by Androklos.

Virtual Reconstruction of Ephesus shows the Harbour and it's Street
Virtual Reconstruction of Ephesus shows the Harbour and its Street

Only the foundations of the gates resembling triumphal arches, which were situated near the harbour and the Theatre, remain. In the 5th century, statues of the four Evangelists used to be on the four columns erected in the middle section of the street. The shafts of the columns are extant.

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