"Prytaneion" Top 5 Page for this destination Prytaneum and Rhodian Peristyle Tip by nicolaitan


Regularly bypassed by the tour groups, the Prytaneion was one of the most important buildings in Ephesus. It is located just beyond the Odeon and Basilica and is of Greek origin. Basically a city hall, it was the administrative center for all munincipal and religious matters (except the Artemis Temple). Visiting religious and secular leaders were received in this building. But most important - the Prytaneion housed the eternal sacred flame dedicated to the goddess of the hearth, Hestia, and never allowed to be extinguished as it symbolized the life of the city.

The original building was constructed by Lysimachos in the 3rd C BC but over the centuries was enlarged, ending as a huge structure with altars, administrative and meeting rooms, reception and dining halls, and courtyards. Image 2 offers an idea of the length of the building with the altar in the far background. The original pit for the fire remained throughout the life of the building. During Greek control, the keepers of the flame were drawn from the wealthiest and most prestigious families but after the reign of Augustus the Curetes ( priests of the Artemis temple ) were responsible for the flame and the sacrifices to the gods performed here.

The Prytaneion was destroyed by a 4th C earthquake and never reconstructed. Much of the marble and embellishments were removed by Scholastica to reconstruct the Varius hammam which now bears her name. Also, the two most prized possessions of the Selcuk Museum - the "Great Artemis" and "Beautiful Artemis " statues were excavated at this site.

Address: Ephesus
Directions: to the west of the Bouleuterion

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Nov 23, 2008
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