Harbor Street is the grand boulevard of Ephesus, leading from the city’s now dry port to the Grand Theater. Built-in the 1st century BC, this street received travellers from throughout the Roman Empire, from common sailors and merchants to Marc Antony and Cleopatra. During the Roman-era, the port of Ephesus was one of the busiest in the world, the crossroads of trade between Europe, Asia, and Africa.
Disembarking from their ship, sailors would have walked up the marble blocks paving the street, past the Harbor Baths and the Church of Mary, before walking underneath the grand Harbor Gate. The Gate was a triumphal archway, with 3 gates under arches supported by 4 Corinthian columns; after Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire, statues of 4 apostles were placed atop these columns.
Walking towards the heart of the city, visitors would be on the broad street, 11 meters wide and 530 meters long, passing porticos (covered walkways) supported by columns, where traders and merchants would sell their goods; statues were often placed between the columns. The visitors might hear cheering coming from the sports arena to the north of Harbor Street or the commotion from the Commercial Agora to the south.
Walking at night, people would see one of the rarest sights in the ancient world: street lighting. Harbor Street was one of just three streets in the Roman Empire to have street lights, the other two being in Rome and Antioch. Pits for tall torches were carved into the marble and then the torch was held in place with a rope tied to iron tie-offs secured to the marble.