Gate of Magnesia

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In ancient times there were three main entrances to the city of Ephesus. These were the harbor, the Koressos Gate and the Magnesian Gate.  The Magnesia gate was built in the Hellenistic Age, around the 3rd century B.C.

The Magnesia Gate’s name came from its purpose. It was built on the south side of Ephesus along the road that connected the city with Magnesia, its neighbor eight miles to the south.  Magnesia was founded by a Greek race called Magnets.  Local legends say that the ancient Philosopher Thales went to the land of Magnets and saw 2 iron ored stones repelling each other.  He gave named the stones after the Greek race.

The two cities of Ephesus and Magnesia were often at odds, which influenced the architecture of the gate.  Two square towers were erected on either side of the gate and the courtyard was constructed to be sealed to secure the city against invaders.  Should the invaders make it past the Magnesia Gate, they would be funneled into a small courtyard, trapped and at the mercy of the Ephesian guards in the tower while they tried to damage the second gate.

When peace came between the cities the gate lost its strategic importance.  Eventually the Roman emperor Vespasianus changed the name of the gate to “The Gate of Honor”.  He changed the shape of the gate to its current triumphal arch style by adding two openings to flank the original large opening. These two side openings would have been used by pedestrians while the larger middle opening was used for the passage of horses and chariots.

The ruins of this entry to the city were discovered around 1869 by engineer and architect J.T Wood while he was searching for the Temple of Artemis. Excavations continue on the gate.

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