Curetes Street

Home / Ephesus Highlihts / Curetes Street


Curetes Street is one of the three main streets of Ephesus. It runs between the Hercules Gate and the Celsus Library. The street was an archaic Processional Way, an important sacred route that lead to the Temple of Artemis. Therefore, it takes its name from the priests that would walk the street during religious ceremonies.

The Curetes were semi-deities in mythology, but the term was used to refer to a class of priests and priestesses in Ephesus. They started as a cult of six priests but were later expanded to nine who would reenact the birth of the goddess Artemis. At first the name Curetes referred only to priests from the cult of Artemis, but during the Roman rule the term was expanded to include the priestesses of Hestia. These priestesses were responsible for the sacred fire housed in the Prytaneion. Curetes were chosen every year to tend to the eternal flame that represented the heart of Ephesus.

Curetes Street originated in Hellenistic times, but it runs counter to the Hippodamian city grid plan that was popular at the time. Instead of running perpendicular to other streets it cuts diagonally across the grid system. The street would have been victim of Ephesus’s many earthquakes, and the structures along the street were repaired often using building materials repurposed from other fallen structures in the city. The differences in design are still clearly evident on the columns today from the rebuilding of the street after a 4th century earthquake.

The street was home to many fountains, monuments, and statues. There were also houses on the slope that would have been used by the wealthiest of Ephesians. Under these houses were colonnaded galleries and shops with mosaic tiled floors. The roofs of the houses would have been used to shelter shopping pedestrians from sun or rain.


Share this page