These are large Roman ruins by the stadium of Ephesus.When the greater part of these ruins were unearthed in 1927, it was understood that the place was a large gymnasium with cold and hot bathing facilities.An inscription found during the excavations showed that the gymnasium was built about the middle of the second century A.D. by P. vedius Antoninus, a wealthy citizen, who is sometimes called the second founder of the Ephesus.
It was dedicated to the goddess Artemis, to the Emperor Antoninus Pius, her friend, patron and protector, and to Ephesus, her birth-place.
Planned symmetrically, the Gymnasium is entered through ' Propylaione ' , a monumental entrance which leads to a magnificent hallway with statues.Next is a ' palaestra ' , a courtyard surrounded by a row of columns.Along the western side of this yard , there are public lavatories provided with a system of running water and with well-preserved marble seats.
The front part of the western colonnade of the palaestra is decorated with 18 columns executed in a composite style.The middle part of the back wall is divided into seven sections with six columns in each.From here, one enters a hall, 9 meres wide and 20 metres long,with a mosaic floor.This is the Hall of Ceremonies, though it is called ' the Emperor's Hall ' by the excavators.In the middle of its back wall, there is a niche with the base of a statue in it.An emperor's statue is believed to have stood here at one time.It is probable that Christians were killed here in sacrificial ceremonies.
Some valuable pieces of sculpture were found during the excavations.Made of white marble, not usually quarried in Ephesus, these are almost all copies of classical master-pieces.To mention only three of them, which are now, in the Archaeological Museum in Izmir, there are statues of a bearded philosopher, a goddess in the style of Vesta Guistiniani, a young woman resembling Aspasia, and a young hunter.
The dressing room (apodyterion) had an exit opening into the street running along the south side of the Gymnasium.Its walls were covered with slabs of coloured marble.The empty spaces seen at the bottom were for lockers to keep the valuables in.
Apart from the apodyterion, on the west of the Hall of Ceremonies, there were the ' Frigidarium ' ( cold-water room ) , the ' Tepidarium ' (warm-water room), and the ' Calderium ' (hot-water room).The furnace room is well preserved.The baths were heated by means of hot air circulating through passagers under the floor and pipes specially laid in the walls.By means of this system, it was possible to heat the baths to the desired temperature.
As the floor and walls of these baths are still standing, we can form a clear idea of their former structure and arrangement.
-Please, note that Vedius Gymnasium is not visited on our Ephesus Tours, as it is currently being excavated and not open to public yet. -