The Temple of Artemis was constructed at the point where an ancient temple devoted to Cybele, goddess of abundance, was located. The Carians and the Lelegians, who inhabited the area before the Ionians worshipped that goddess and they used to call her the “Great mother".
The Ionians named that goddess "Artemis" and when the Lydian king Croesus invaded the city, the temple, which was surrounded by walls and a wooden statue devoted to Artemis had been placed in it, was destroyed by a flood. Croesus started constructing the new stone temple at the same position and adorned it with columns, in the 7th century BC.
Artemis Temple (also known as the Temple of Diana) was included among the Seven Wonders of the World. It was 115 m long and 55 m wide. Its construction lasted 120 years and its architectural order was Ionic Dipteros with double column-rows on each long and triple column-rows along the wide sides. The Temple of Artemis consisted of 127 columns with a diameter of 1.20 m and 19 m tall.
However, a man named Herostratus, who indented to become famous and wished his name to be immortal, burnt the temple in 356 BC, at the very night Alexander the Great was born. For this reason, Ephesians used to say that Artemis did not manage to save her temple because she was busy as she was far away, at the place where Alexander was given birth. Ephesians started reconstructing the temple of Artemis, which should be the same as the old one, and they created an incomparable beauty.
Alexander the Great had visited Ephesus in 334 BC, after having defeated the Persians. Impressed by the Temple he organized a parade in order to pay honors to the goddess and promised Ephesians to reconstruct the temple. Yet, Ephesians refused that offer telling Alexander that it was not fair for a god to build a temple for another god.
During the Roman era, Nero pillaged the temple of Artemis and later on the Goths destroyed it.