Along the Ramparts of Ancient Pergamon

From Bodrum we had a long day of switching rentals as we moved northward. We stopped in Kusadasi and picked up our rental for the remaining part of our travel in Turkey. We drove past Izmir, where we had stayed a few years ago, and continued north on the fast E87 highway. Eventually we turned east away from the coast until we reached Bergama.

It was about a five hour drive from Bodrum to Bergama, though it took the entire day to get there including the stop in Kusadasi

After driving through the town of Bergama we made our way through the narrow streets up the hill near the ancient site. Our hotel was situated a short distance away. It was small, simple and rustic but the location was the best feature. The next morning it was a five minute walk to reach the cable car that would take us up to the ruins.

Cars took the left route, and the cable car was to the right

The cable car trip was worthwhile because we were able to get a bird’s-eye view of the ruins as we slowly went up the mountain.

We finally made it to the top and paid the entry fee. Stretching 335 metres (1,099 feet) above the plain, the site was spread over a wide area.

Once the seat of an empire that covered much of modern-day Turkey, and later a staunch ally of Rome, Pergamon was considered an imposing capital. It overlooked the surrounding countryside, with its high walls constructed around 188 BC. The plan was to create a second Athens, with the library at Pergamon considered second only to the Library of Alexandria. By the second century AD, the city had 200,000 inhabitants including the famous physician Galen.

How Pergamon might have originally appeared

Pergamon is now a UNESCO World Heritage site, and we felt it deserved the designation.

The modern town of Bergama was in the distance

By the third century the city had collapsed due to invasions and an earthquake, and changed hands a number of times through the Byzantine and Ottoman periods. By the year 1300 it was largely in ruins.

Remains of the Temple of Athena
This was the spot where we had the snacks we brought

Near the Temple of Athena was the way down to the theatre. After a short trip down we enjoyed a spectacular view.

We went down to check out one of the steepest theatres in the world
It was a steep drop to the valley below
Located near the base of the theatre, a temple to Dionysos from the second century BC can be seen in the middle left of the photo

Next to the one we visited in Termessos, this was probably the most impressive ancient theatre we’ve seen. Built during the Greek period, it was situated on a steep incline with a wide view of the valley. It must have been quite the event to witness back in its heyday. The original had a wooden stage that could be removed for a clear view of the valley below.

The view from the opposite side
From the theatre we headed up to the next set of ruins
The Trajaneum (temples of Trajan and Zeus)

As we made our way into the Trajaneum, a little doggy got up from his spot in the shade to say hello. People tried to give him water but he was too nervous to take it.

It looked like the ruins ended here and most people turned back at this point, but we went onward and found more things to see.

The city walls on the back side of the city
Checking out the view. It was windy here

Eventually we made our way around to the front again. We spent about three hours at the top including a stop for a lemonade at a cafe near the entrance. It was a good way to beat the heat as there wasn’t much shade at the top.

Pergamon was an impressive sight, and well worth the trip. We also enjoyed a few more sights in the town the next day, which will be in the next entry.

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