Pergamon Tourist Attractions
West coast (Aegean Sea)Bergama:Situation and TopographyThe site of the celebrated ancient city of Pergamon is more or less the same as the modern Turkish town of Bergama, which is situated some 90km/56mi north of Izmir in the old region of Mysia.
The remains of the Roman city are for the most part beneath the modern town, while the Greek city with the imposing ruins of its royal stronghold occupies a magnificently impressive location on the summit and along the terraced slopes of the hill which rises above Bergama to the east. To the east of the hill flows the Kestel Çayi (Ketios in antiquity) and to the west the Bergama Çayi (Selinus).History of PergamonFrom the fifth to the early third century B.C., Pergamon was a small fortified settlement on the summit of a hill, and may well have belonged in its early days to large Persian landowners. The Pontian Philhetairos (283-263) established himself as the ruler of the independent state of Pergamon. It was subsequently defended by Eumenes I (263-241) and Attalos I (241-197) against the Syrian kings and the Galatians, a Celtic people who had made their way into Asia Minor. Attalos I was responsible for the circuit of walls built half-way down the hill.During the reign of Eumenes II (179-159) an alliance with Rome brought the Attalid dynasty to its peak and a new ring of walls was built around the foot of the hill. One of the most famous achievements was the creation of the library which came to possess 200,000 volumes. These later went to enrich Mark Antony's rival library in Alexandria.Pergamon is credited with the invention of parchment. Learning flourished and there was a great flowering of sculpture and painting. Christianity gained a foothold and Pergamon is listed as one of the Seven Churches of Asia (Revelations 1:11 and 2:12ff). When insecurity increased in the second half of the second century, a new wall was built round the hill at a higher level than that built by Eumenes II.In Byzantine times another wall was built higher up the hill, enclosing a still smaller area, to provide protection against Arab invasions (seventh century) and also the Seljuks and Ottomans in later years.The Pergamon region was occupied by the Ottomans in the 14th century and thereafter the city on the hill was abandoned and fell into decay, while the new town of Bergama grew up on the south side of the hill.ExcavationsThe Department of Antiquities of the Berlin Museums supported the work of the German engineer Carl Humann, who with the assistance of A. Conze began research on the site in 1878 and continued until 1886. The German archeologists W. Dörpfeld and E. Boehringer continued the work in the 20th century and excavations are still in progress.
The city of Bergama is noted for its carpet making and leather working industries. It is also an agricultural center owing to the large amount of cotton and tobacco grown nearby.
The first site of interest in Pergamon is the Lower Agora, built by Eumenes II at the beginning of the second century B.C. to supplement the existing Upper Agora. The 80x50m/260x165ft paved square was surrounded by two-storey colonnades from where the merchants offered their wares.
Around the market-place in Pergamon stood the odeion, stadium and a gymnasium built on three terraces. On the lowest terrace was the children's gymnasium - the gymnasium of the "paides", i.e. children aged between six and nine years. Above this was the gymnasium for the "ephebes" (between 10 and 15) and on the highest terrace, the largest and finest of the three, the gymnasium for the "neoi" (young men over 16). To the northeast stood the Roman baths lavishly decorated with marble cladding.
Sanctuary of Demeter
Half-way along the ancient track which winds its way up to the acropolis in Pergamon in a wide S-shaped curve lie the remains of the Sanctuary of Demeter. Motorists should follow the road round the acropolis to the parking lot (4km/2.5mi). Built in the third century on a site which was then outside the acropolis and protected by strong walls, it is thought to be one of the oldest structures in Pergamon. The entrance to the sacred precinct containing the remains of the temple is marked by a propylon (gateway) with two columns. It was here that the Eleusinian mysteries were celebrated.
From the Sanctuary of Demeter in Pergamon, the road climbs up in a wide right-hand curve to the acropolis, where the terraces are laid out in an arc round the theater on the south side of the hill. The road arrives first at the colonnaded Upper Agora (84x44m/275x145ft). A small Temple of Dionysos used to stand on the west side.
Terrace of the Altar of Zeus
Above the agora in Pergamon lies a trapeziform terrace with massive retaining walls, once occupied by Pergamon's celebrated Altar of Zeus. Only the foundations remain of this altar which was built between 180-160 B.C. by Eumenes II. A full-scale reconstruction of the altar with part of the original frieze has been on display in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin since 1902. The frieze round the podium is a vigorous representation of the battle between the gods and giants, symbolizing the victory of Greek civilization over the Barbarians and no doubt reflecting Pergamene pride in the successful defeat of the Galatians.To the north of the altar within the acropolis walls are a number of other terraces. This area is entered through the citadel gate. Along the north wall are the scanty remains of several palaces, most notably that of Eumenes II.On the terrace to the west of the citadel gate stood the Temple of Athena, a Doric temple dating from the fourth century.
Adjoining the north colonnade of the Temple of Athena in Pergamon stood the famous library built about 170 B.C. With its 200,000 volumes ("volumes" in the sense of folded sheets of parchment rather than the older parchment rolls) it was one of the largest libraries in the Ancient World. The collection was later presented to Cleopatra by Antony and carried off to Alexandria. The main hall of the library contained a copy of Phidias' "Athena Parthenos".
Temple of Trajan
To the west of the library in Pergamon the Temple of Trajan stood on a colonnaded terrace 100x70m/330x230ft which is currently undergoing restoration. A peripteral Corinthian temple (9x6 columns) of white marble, it was built in the reign of Trajan but later was destroyed in an earthquake. From the front of the terrace there is a magnificent view of the lower terraces of the acropolis, the theater, the town of Bergama and the hills beyond the alluvial plain of the Bergama Çayi.
The most striking feature on the acropolis in Pergamon is the theater. Set on the steep southwest slope of the hill, it is reached by a narrow flight of steps from the Temple of Athena. The theater, which was built in the time of the Pergamene kings could accommodate some 15,000 spectators on its 80 rows. Along the outside of the 216m/710ft long upper terrace was a colonnade.
Temple of Dionysos
At the northwest corner of the theater terrace in Pergamon stood a prostyle Ionic temple, probably dedicated to Dionysos, the mythical ancestor of the Pergamene royal house. After its destruction in the A.D. third century, it was rebuilt by Caracalla.
The The Asklepieion was once an ancient healing center. It was likely built in the 4th C B.C.
Map of Pergamon Attractions