House of Pleasure in Ephesus – So-Called Ephesus Brothel

House of Pleasure in Ephesus
So-Called House of Pleasure in Ephesus

There is no doubt that the house of pleasure also known as the love house or brothel in Ephesus is one of the places that our Best of Ephesus Tour guests are most curious about. The most important reason for them to wonder about the house of pleasure in Ephesus Ancient City is the Ephesus brothel foot sign carved on marble, which is thought to be an advertisement for the love house. The main reason why this building is thought to be a house of pleasure is probably the floor mosaics depicting the Dionysus festival. Considering that the Dionysus festival, which is held every year in March, is depicted in many Roman mosaics, it does not seem like a real reason.

Ephesus Foot Sign
So-Called Ancient Advertising of Brothel of Ephesus (Foot Sign)

So What’s the Real Deal ?

Your Private Ephesus Tours guide will likely explain it to you. However, to mention briefly; In this area directly opposite the Celsus library, three private houses were unearthed. The house in the middle of these 3 houses is a two-storey peristyle house that has long been mistakenly interpreted as a pleasure house. The other 2 houses are rich houses of different architecture and the shops opening to Curetes Street. It is not surprising that what is called the house of pleasure is actually the home of the riches. So that there are Terrace Houses 1 and Terrace Houses 2, which are called rich houses, right across the street. Well, weren’t there houses of pleasure in the ancient Roman culture? Of course, there were…

A Wall Painting from the Brothel of Pompeii
A Wall Painting from the Brothel of Pompeii

Prostitution in Ancient Rome

Ancient Rome was a fascinating period of history. The Roman Empire was the center of trade. One of the income and most popular trades in Ancient Rome was prostitution just like many other civilizations. Prostitution in Rome was not regulated by law because it was considered to be an occupation that women could choose freely. Prostitutes in Roman Empire were often slaves or freedwomen who didn’t have many employment options and women of poor families who had been sold by their parents.

The Romans tolerated prostitution so long as it did not disturb public order, as they considered prostitution as a beneficial evil in society and did not want to push trade into secret places (such as brothels) where it could cause problems. As we clearly see, it’s not that different from the prostitution of today.

Erotic Wall Painting from the Brothel of Pompeii
Another Wall Painting from the Brothel of Pompeii

Ancient Romans had a very different view of sexuality and the place of prostitution in society. Although prostitution was not illegal, it was associated with the lower classes. Brothels in Roman Empire were generally located near theaters or other entertainment venues and often advertised by a lit sign depicting a woman holding one arm across her breasts and another arm pointing down to her genitals. Brothels were typically run by a pimp or madam who acted as an agent between the prostitutes and the customers just like today, while also providing protection for the prostitutes from those wishing to abuse them.

If you want to explore the Ephesus Ancient City on-site with us, you can reach us at the links below.

Private Ephesus Tours from Kusadasi Port

Private Ephesus Tours from Izmir Port

Ephesus Day Trip From Istanbul

Add Comment