According to Strabo, Ephesus city walls were built by Lysimachos in the 3rd century B.C. They are the best example of walls built during the Hellenistic period, both from the defence point of view and the excellent workmanship they exhibit. Certain sections of the wall on the flat ground are missing, but the sections on the mountain are very well-preserved. Toward the sea in the west, the height of the walls decreases in accordance with the natural slope of the mountain. The walls reach a tower located on a small hill visible from everywhere in Ephesus. The tower called St. Paul’s Prison is different from the other towers on the wall. The partitions inside and its second storey give the tower an appearance of a jail. An inscription found inside records the name “Astyages Hill”. To whom this name belongs is not known.
There are two important gates in the walls that give access to the city. One of them is the Koressos Gate located between the Stadium and the Vedius Gymnasium, and it is often mentioned in the inscriptions. This gate has not yet been excavated. The other gate is called the Magnesia Gate.
It is on the Virgin Mary Road and is still being excavated. The gate was built in the 3rd century B.C. together with the city walls, but during the reign of Emperor Vespasian (69-79), it was remodelled and turned into an arched ceremonial gate with three entrances.
The Hellenistic gate had a tall rectangular tower on each side and a courtyard behind it. The entrance into the city was through another gate located at the back of the courtyard. The square in front of the courtyard and the gate is paved by large grey blocks of stone. Marble sarcophagi assumed to have belonged to important people were found in the square in front of the gate. The large aqueduct seen along the western side was routed through here long after the reign of Emperor Vespasian.
A branch of the road leaving the Magnesia Gate extends to the city of Magnesia, 30 km. southeast of Ephesus. The other branch encircles Panayir Dagi and reaches the Temple of Artemis. From here it goes through Ephesus and returns to the Magnesia Gate. The road was repaired by the Ephesian sophist Daminaus in the 2nd century.
All the streets and avenues in Ephesus were built according to the “right-angled” plan of the architect Hippodamos of Miletus. The streets and avenues were perpendicular to each other, but the road mentioned above was an exception. Excavations proved that the road existed during the Archaic period. Therefore, we can safely state that the road leading to the Temple of Artemis maintained its ”sacred road” status throughout every age (Wood discovered the site of the Temple of Artemis by following this road).
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