The Temple of Artemis, one of the most important structures of the ancient Greek and one of the Seven Wonders of the World, was located in the ancient city of Ephesus, near the Selçuk district of İzmir in contemporary Turkey. Artemis, the first temple in the world constructed completely with marble, is thought to be built in 550 BC by the king Croesus of Lydia. The temple, used both for religious worship and as a bazaar ground, is cited in all ancient Greek texts as a unique, magnificent and glorious building.
After the destruction of a smaller temple by flood located at the site of Artemis by flood in the 7th century B.C., construction of the Temple of Artemis began. Later, the new temple, Artemis, was destroyed in 356 BC after a historical tragedy that has become a part of the collective memory of the western countries ever since. A man living in Ephesus, named Herostratus, set the Temple on fire in order to gain notoriety and to go down in history. The Temple was completely destroyed. After the incident, the citizens of Ephesus sentenced Herostratus to death and forbade anyone from uttering his name. However, despite this ban, historians of the era recorded his name, which has in time become a part of the European culture. As a continuation of his legacy, Herostratus lives in German and English literature as someone who commits a crime for fame.
It is believed that the day of the destruction of the Temple was also the birthday of Alexander the Great. For this reason, Alexander offered to rebuild the temple, but citizens of Ephesus declined his offer and later on started to rebuild the Temple themselves in 323 B.C. This last Temple had 137 meters length, 69 meters width with 127 columns with 18 meters height supporting the roof. It was decorated with bronze and marble statues carved by the most famous sculptors of the time; it also hosted many objects or arts. The Temple was one of the most important centers of attraction of the era and served as a host where notable merchants and kings were entertained.
The temple was destroyed the last time during a raid by the Goths in 268 A.D. and there is no precise information if it was rebuilt again or not after the invasion. The goddess of Artemis, after whom the Temple was named, has certain distinctive features from the goddess of Artemis in the ancient Greek mythology. Artemis of Ephesus was goddess of fertility and some historians point out that she has great similarities with the Anatolian mother goddess, Cybele. The Artemis statue found at the Ephesus ancient city today represents the goddess with a figure with many breasts over a column.
Almost all of the fragments of the sculptures and artifacts excavated at the site of the Temple by British archeologists in the 19th century, are displayed in the Artemis Room of the British Museum. At the site of the Temple, near Selçuk district of İzmir, on the other hand, there are only two marble pieces. A model of the Temple of Artemis, is displayed in İstanbul at the Miniatürk park.