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Bergama, the Ancient Roman Ruins of Pergamon

We are still in the Aegean Turkey where an abundance of history rested in Western Anatolia. Our destination is moving from the Southern Aegean where there is Denizly, the inland city as a hub to Roman sites such as Pamukkale and Hierapolis, to the Northern Aegean where Bergama is located. Bergama is known for its archaeological ruins from the ancient Roman city of Pergamon. It is another ancient city which is not as crowded as Selçuk or Ephesus.

How to get there:

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If you start the journey from Istanbul, travelling by bus is the most recommended transportation to Bergama. It is 9 and a half hours trip to reach there. Also, it is very convenient to travel from Izmir as Bergama is around 105 km away. For me, I caught a shuttle van from Izmir Bus Terminal (Izmir Otogar) which is very convenient and comfortable. The shuttle van service is available from 6.00-20.30 hr (departs every 30 min, cost 12 TL.) and it will stop to pick up other passengers all the way to Bergama. However, it takes less than 2 hours and this shuttle van will terminate at Bergama. So, don’t worry where to get off!

How to get around:

From the downtown of Bergama, you can visit the Archaeology Museum and the Red Basilica as well as the lower city area within walking distance. Before heading to the lower ancient city area, I do recommend to prepare some drinks and snacks to bring along from the Feza Market with reasonable price. It is just located on the hill near the shuttle van stop. I would say that walking around is the best way to explore all of the attractions.

The ancient city is composed of three main parts: the Akropol (Acropolis), which main function was a sacred of social and cultural center; the Lower City, realm of the lower classes; and the Asklepion, one of the earliest medical centers in the world.

The Lower City

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            Let’s begin from the small street next to the shuttle van stop. The huge area of ruins with the old bridge awaited the tourists to wander along the route to the Akropol. It takes around 30 minutes to reach the Cable Car spot which will lead to the upper ancient city of Akropol.

Akropol

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          To experience the panoramic view of Pergamon and see the Akropol, you have to ride a cable car up (service hours: 8.30-19.00 hr., roundtrip: 10 TL., entrance fee: 20 TL.) The ride up takes only five minutes to see the views alone. While you can walk down to explore more along the ancient road. Many treasures from Pergamon were exported abroad as you might know about the Pergamon Museum in Berlin where the Great Altar of Pergamon is displayed there. Well, let’s start the interesting sites in the Akropol!

  • “Altar of Zeus”. The famous Altar of Zeus is near the entrance and on the south of the Theater. The Altar was removed to be collected at the museum in Germany while the giant tree had been replaced. This spot can be visited on the way back from the Theater.

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  • “Temple of Athena”. Walking further, you will notice the ruins of the Temple of Athena which was built during the period of Eumenes II in the 3rd century BC. It is just above the Theater.

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  • “Theater of Pergamon”. The Theater is one of the prominent steepest theaters in the world. Its capacity was 10,000 people with 80 rows of seating. Andesite and trachyte has been used as the main theater material while the lower area made from travertine was exclusive for the Royals.

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  • “Library of Pergamon”. The library contained 200,000 books. It is famous for the second best library in the ancient Greek civilization in terms of size and importance while the first one was the Library of Alexandria. Moreover, it has been told that Antonius once gave all the books at the library to Cleopatra as a wedding gift.

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  • “Temple of Trajan”. The highlights of the ruins were situated  near the Theater. There were main areas which are as follows;

Trajaneum (The Halls):  the first seen construction of columns around the temple and the monument of the King remained only the mid body part.

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Mid Area: the Temple built in the period of Hadrian II during 125-128 BC which were consisted of 6 columns and some parts of ruin restored to become the magnificent display seen by visitors nowadays.

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The Lower Wall:  the height of this construction was 23 meters which was well situated at the best spot to enjoy a bird’s eye view.   

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The City Wall: a bit further from the Temple of Trajan, the extendable city wall was built to 4 km long to cover almost the hill area and this place will lead you to the last spot you can visit which was the reservoir near the city wall.

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