One of the most attractive structures to visit in the old city of Ephesus city, Celsus library was made to house a total of 12,000 scrolls and was also known to be the place where the remains of the former Roman senator Tiberius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus is buried. The library was built by his son, former consul of the Romans, Gaius Julius Aquila and was approximately begun in the year 117 AD and was finished by the year 120 AD. Ephesus Celsus was entombed just underneath the library, across its entrance where the statue of Athena, the goddess of wisdom, stands.
Impressive structure of Celsus Library
Once you visit the library, the impressive façade of the structure will welcome you. The entire façade has 2 stories designed with Corinthian style columns throughout the ground floor as well as the 3 entrances to the building. In the upper story, you can find 3 window openings that make the entire front view something to look forward watching with every visit you make. To make the facade’s size look greater than what it really is people who have constructed the library made an impressive optical trick wherein the columns used on the sides where shorter than those of the columns used in the center. All of the statues placed on the columns today are just the exact same copies of the original ones that are now displayed in the Ephesus Museum in Vienna. The 4 statues found in the columns are:
- Sophia for wisdom
- Episteme for knowledge
- Ennoia for intelligence
- Arete for valor
These representations of the statues are the ones that depict the virtues practiced by Celsus in his entire life. With these simple representations in mind, there is no doubt why this library is considered as one of the richest libraries in the ancient period. This library follows other world renowned libraries during the ancient times such as Pergamum and Alexandria.
What Events Resulted in the Destruction of the Celsus Library?
If not for the fire that has resulted in the invasion of the Goths, the library as well as the scrolls that were stored in the niches were destroyed. This event has happened in the 262 AD and has resulted damaging the remains of the façade. But the latter earthquake destroyed the remains of the façade, which led to it's complete destruction. In the 1960’s and 1970’s there was a massive restoration done in the façade and it was rebuilt serving as the prime example of the public architecture in the Roman times. The completely restored façade is now the current structure that can be found when visiting the structure.
Things seen inside the Celsus Library
Once you arrive in the location of the library with your guide on the private Tour of Ephesus, you will not only be impressed with what the exterior has to offer you but also the interior. Though it may seem like the ruins of the entire structure, seeing what its interior has to offer will give everyone some insights of the rich story and purpose behind the construction of the structure. The following are the impressive things that you would see inside the Celsus library:
- The interior is seen to be paved with marble that are decorated.
- Through the walls, you can see that it is lined with niches for the purpose of storing scrolls in the early times.
- To access the second storey, the balcony is railed to give access on the higher niches as well as the scrolls that were already stored within the second level.
- There were empty niches constructed just inside the walls. The empty niches will show you how the early Romans can protect the important scrolls from humidity and prevent the texts from being damaged while being stored within the library.
- Check out the reading room that is facing the east. This room was placed in this location so as to take advantage of nice lighting for reading the scrolls.
- Throughout the ruins of Celsus library, you will notice the Greek and Latin inscriptions. These inscriptions can be seen when you explore through the entirety of the ruins.
The entire structure is definitely awe-inspiring since it clearly depicts the unique architectural style of the Romans in the early centuries.
Why still visit Celsus Library
Though ruins are the only ones left with the library of Celsus, the legacy of Ephesus Celsus is still left in the structure. The fact that a particular part of the structure, which is the entire façade was, somehow, restored, there are still many reasons why you should include the library in the set of itineraries that you should be visiting. You will get the chance to see the inscriptions of the early times, admire the beauty of the architecture of the entire library and enjoy the feeling of going back to the past through it's ruins at Ephesus City. And also Celsus Library is open every day from till and there is not additional tickets required.