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Library of Celsus

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HISTORY

Built in honor of the former Roman senator Tiberius Julius Celso Polemeano, and his works were completed in AD 135 by his son, Tiberius Julius Aquila Polemeanus, who was Consul Suffectus in 110 AD Celso was a native of Sardis, a nearby village, and was one of first men of purely Greek origin who became consul of the Roman Empire. Having been consul in 92 and governor of the Roman province of Asia in 105, he had become a wealthy and popular local citizen, so much so that he paid for the construction of the library with his own fortune and was honored both as a Greek and as a Roman.

 

WHY THIS PLACE

The interior of the library and all its rolls were consumed by a fire during the devastating earthquake that hit the city in 262. Only the facade survived, but was completely destroyed by an earthquake later, probably in the late Byzantine period. The building is important because it is one of the few remaining examples of Roman-influenced libraries and also because it demonstrates that public libraries were built not only in Rome, but throughout the Roman Empire. During a restoration that was considered very faithful to the original structure of the building, the facade was reconstructed in the 1960s and 1970s and can still be admired as an excellent example of Roman public architecture. It constitutes a spectacular environment, both for small rehearsals and weddings with a larger audience of guests, and which will amaze, the size of the splendor of the place.

CURIOSITIES

It was the third largest library in the ancient world, after the libraries of Alexandria (Egypt) and Pergamos (Turkey). In addition to storing 12,000 rolls, the building also served as a mausoleum for Celso, who is buried in a sarcophagus under the library, in a crypt at the main entrance. It was not common for people to be buried inside a library or even within the limits of a city, so this was a special tribute to Celso.

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