Temple of Hadrian in Ephesus

the temple of hadrian in ephesus

The Temple of Hadrian in Ephesus was built to honor the Roman emperor Hadrian, who visited the city in 128 AD and ruled the Roman Empire from 117 to 138 AD. The temple is an impressive example of Roman architecture and engineering, and it is one of the best-preserved ruins in Ephesus. It is located on the south side of Curetes Street, the most famous street of Ephesus.

Excavation and Reconstruction of the Temple

The temple was unearthed in 1956 during the excavations of Ephesus. The Temple of Hadrian in Ephesus was reconstructed between 1957 and 1958 using original parts and supported with modern pieces to gain the appearance of a full temple. The reconstruction, carried out by the Austrian Archaeological Institute, was completed in 2014 and the temple took its final form in 2015.

Temple of Hadrian in Ephesus
Temple of Hadrian in Ephesus

The Temple of Hadrian in Ephesus Video

Architectural and Artistic Details

An inscription engraved on the archivolt of the entablature tells us that the temple was dedicated to Emperor Hadrian, Ephesian Artemis, and the demos of Ephesus by the Ephesian asiarch Poplius Vedius Antoninus Sabinus. The Keystone relief decorated with floral patterns in the middle of the curved arch is Tyche, the goddess of good fortune. When we enter the interior of the temple, it is thought that the female figure in the semi-circular relief on the door may possibly be Medusa.

Medusa Relief of the Temple of Hadrian
Temple of Hadrian – Medusa Relief (So-called)

Decoration and Friezes of the Temple of Hadrian

Gods and Goddesses Honored

The Temple of Hadrian is deeply rooted in the mythology and religious beliefs of the ancient world. It honors not only Emperor Hadrian but also the gods and goddesses of the Roman pantheon. The temple’s artworks and inscriptions depict various deities, illustrating the rich tapestry of ancient mythological narratives.

Deities on the Friezes and the Foundation Story of Ephesus

Both sides of the temple are decorated with friezes. In these friezes from left to right, the founding story of Ephesus (Androclus and wild boar), Dionysus in the procession, and Amazons are depicted. The figures on the fourth frieze are Apollo, Athena, Androclus, and Heracles, respectively. During the final restoration of the temple, these friezes were replaced with replicas. The originals of the friezes are on display in the Ephesus Archaeological Museum today.

Original Friezes of Temple of Hadrian in Ephesus Archaeological Museum
Original Friezes of Temple of Hadrian in Ephesus Museum

Cultural and Religious Impact

The Temple of Hadrian was more than just a structure; it was a center of religious and cultural life in Ephesus. Dedicated to Emperor Hadrian, the temple also paid homage to the deities of the Roman pantheon. It served as a place of worship and a gathering spot for the citizens, playing a crucial role in the religious and social dynamics of the city.

Who is Emperor Hadrian?

Hadrian was the third of the five so-called good emperors of the Roman Empire (Respectively Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, and Marcus Aurelius). He was born in the Roman province of Hispania Baetica on January 24 76 A.D. His father was Publius Aelius Hadrianus and his mother was Domitia Paulina. Hadrian is generally considered one of Rome’s greatest emperors. So that he is best known for the famous Hadrian’s Wall in northern England, military conquests, public construction projects, and the road networks he built throughout the Roman Empire.

Bust of Emperor Hadrian, British Museum, London
Bust of Emperor Hadrian, British Museum, London

Hadrian was born into a humble family, but the fact that his father was a senator in Rome gave him a promising future. He had a sister whom he loved dearly and she would eventually marry Emperor Trajan.

Villa Adriana Hadrian's Villa In Tivoli - Rome
Hadrian’s Villa In Tivoli – Rome

Hadrian had a privileged education life. From childhood, he was very ambitious for power and glory. He studied rhetoric and law during his childhood and youth. Later he served in the Roman army in Germany and Britain and became emperor on July 10, 117 AD, at the age of 43. After 21 years of reigning, Hadrian died in 138 AD at the age of 62.

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