The Ephesus Basilica was a major meeting place for the local community during the Roman era of the city. Though only pieces of the ancient columns remain, three rows of these once held up a wooden roof at the north end of the State Agora. The Basilica was constructed in the 1st century AD under Emperor Augustus. The columns were originally of the Ionic order but were later changed to the Corinthian style. The columns were also adorned with bull’s heads symbolizing power, fitting as the Basilica stood in front of the Odeion, Ephesus’ local senate.
The word “basilica” comes from the Greek word “basileus,” a term for Caesar; “basilica” meant “Caesar’s Hall”. The Basilica’s function as a gathering place would later come to influence the word’s adaption by Christianity, when it became the official religion of the Roman Empire.
The Basilica was the center for stock exchange and commercial trading in ancient Ephesus. The Praetor, a Roman judge, also sat here to preside over court cases and act as a mediator in disputes between businessmen. Though not much of the structure still remains, many of its columns, or pieces of them, are still standing, allowing one to envision the scope of this once important legal center in Ephesus. Also in the surrounding area, you will find more historical gems to explore.