The Roman library in the heart of Athens was sponsored by Roman emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century A.D. It was akin to a Roman forum serving multiple purposes. It had a big court in the centre surrounded by 100 marble columns with a monumental Corinthian entrance on the west side and rooms for book rolls, reading and lectures on the east side. In the centre of the court there was a cistern, replaced later by an early christian basilica, converted in its turn to the church of the Great Virgin. During the Ottoman period the Upper Bazaar was situated there as well as the seat of the local Ottoman commander of the city. The disastrous fire of 1884 burnt down the 100 wooden shops of the bazaar, what gave the chance for a systematic excavation in the area.