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Pergamon (Bergama) Ancient City

Pergamon is the name of the ancient city which was established on the top of a hill in the center of Bergama district of İzmir province. Pergamon was one of the most important cities of the Misya region in ancient times. It was the capital city of Pergamon between 282-133 BC. The name of the city, Pergamon, comes from the legendary hero Pergamos. he was also the son of Andromakhe with Neoptolemos. The city under Persian control was ruled by Demaratos, one of Sparta's old kings, in the 480 BC, and once again by Eritrian Gongylos. It is believed that after killing Grynos, Pergamos captured the city and gave his own name. According to another legend, the King of Teuthrania sought help from Pergamos for a war, and after the victory he founded two cities; Pergamon which is to honor the name of Pergamos, and another one named Gryneion.

It was mentioned that Pergamon was founded in the beginning of the 4th century BC, then it became the capital of the Kingdom of Pergamon which was the dominant place in the region. It was equipped with structures such as palace, temple and theater in this period. Then the city was fortified and surrounded by towers and walls. After the Battle of Granikos in 334 BC, Alexander the Great gave the of the city  to Barsini, the widow of Memnon, a commander. In the period after Alexander's death, after the war of ipsos in 301 BC, Lysimakhos, one of Alexander's commanders, took over the city. During the Hellenistic period, the Bergamese kingdom, which had a very bright day, was at a level to compete with Alexander the Great (Alexandreia), which Alexander the Great established in Egypt. In this period, many philosophers, scientists came to the city, a library large enough to compete with the library of Alexandria was established and the Pergamon. The name  ''parchment'' comes from Pergamon, where the paper was made of leather. The Pergamon kingdom remained one of the most important and powerful cities of Western Anatolia after being connected to Rome.

The ruins of the old city were discovered by German engineer Carl Humann in the 1870s. Because Ottomans had no respect and tendency to history and historical monuments & ruins, they weren't protecting such areas.  As a result, the Zeus Althar which was the mostimportant & well protected structure of Pergamon Acropolis was divided into thousand of pieces, brought to Çandarlı port & than to Germany with some other temple belongings. Today, the foundations of Altar are left to Turks, and the Altar stands in Berlin Pergamon Museum as one of the most important works of the world. The first research and excavation works in Pergamon started in 1878. Excavations and repair work continues today.


The Acropolis of Pergamon is built on an extremely steep and sheltered hill. A few kilometers down the hill there is the second settlement which is called as down city. If you do not have sufficient sportive condition, the walking option must be completely eliminated. Up to a few years ago, the Acropolis region used to be reached only by foot or by car, now the Acropolis can be reached with the cable car system.


In the ancient city settlement called the Acropolis, the public buildings and the people's space were placed in a nested plan. The royal palaces, cisterns and arsenals are located at the top of the hill, which has been a settlement since the early ages. On the lower terraces are the Temple of Traianus, the library and the Temple of Athena. Zeus Altar used to stand on the lower terrace looking towards Bergama, but now only the foundations of that structure can be seen because of being brought to Germany by German archaeologists. The real Althar is being exhibited in the Bergama museum in Berlin. On the side of the theater, the lower part of the Gymnasion and the Temple of Dionysos. The temple of Dionysus was abducted in the same period with the Zeus Altar and many different historical monuments. The works, which were carried on the back of the camels at the port of Çandarlı, were first sent to İzmir Harbor and then to Germany. one of the most well preserved (or rather not stolen) temples  is the temple of Trajan.

Pergamon Zeus altarı

Nowadays, If you want to see and discover the Zeus Altar as a full, you should first come to the Acropolis of Pergamum and watch the basics, then go to Berlin with the first plane and watch the remaining parts there. Or do the opposite, because '' the remaining parts '' are in Turkey.

Picture Gallery Walls;Click for larger images 

The walls surrounding the Acropolis of Pergamon are still quite good. Although they are already built on an elevation providing shelter, the Acropolis region was fortified with a fortification and made the conquest impossible. Of course, even if  that has not blocked some of them.

From the moment you enter the ticket checkpoint, wooden roads have been built and you can follow the paths and navigate the route in a certain order. Because of the fact that I don't like such wooden paths in historical areas which gives an ''artificial'' feeling, I used the more free option.  As we have already mentioned, most of the structures that should be standing are not available anymore because most of the elements are smuggled abroad , so there remains only Theater and settlements, warehouses, shops etc. which were left because of being  hard to relocate. Despite everything, Pergamon it is still one of the ancient sites to be visited necessarily within Turkey's borders with its unique mystical atmosphere and the feeling like living in history. On this page, I do not give the plan of the Acropolis, because if you go, you will already see a detailed layout plan in each region. Travelers and history lovers likes most the visual clues about the things they can have the chance to see, than they decide accordingly. Therefore, rather than the crowd of words, I am publishing a detailed visual gallery about the Pergamon Acropolis below. 

Bergama / External Historic Areas out of Acropolis

When you come to Bergama, your first job I guess, is to visit the Acropolis. But the areas of Bergama are not limited to this. At the foot of the Acropolis hill, where today's Bergama district is located, there are some important buildings from the Roman period. A few kilometers away, there is the Asklepion (Health Center) in Bergama, a center associated with Galenos, the father of modern pharmacology. The symbol of modern medicine and pharmacy is a snake motif engraved on the marble columns here for the first time in the world.

Bergama / Asklepion

Asklepion is the general name given to the sanctuaries dedicated to the god of health Asklepios and the areas used to treat people. Pergamon asklepion is one of them. Asklepion are  named after Asklepios, the son of Apollo and known as the God of Health. The words '' Hygiene-Hygienic '' which is used in many languages come from Hygenia, daughter of Asclepius, the god of health. Bergama Asklepion, located in the Bergama district of Izmir and serving for 9 centuries, was one of the most important health centers of ancient times.

Asklepion Tiyatrosu.jpg

In Asclepius, tehre are buildings like the Sanctuary, the gallery courtyard, the theater of 3500 people, the hall of the Emperor Hadrian, the library, the temple of Asclepius.

According to the establishment legend, the first Prytan of Pergamon, Arkhias, is injured during a hunting trip in Greece. Treatment is done in Greece's most famous Asklepeion. As a result of the treatment, Arkhias has helped to establish such a center in Bergama in order to express gratitude to the god of health.

Asklepion in Bergama was also used as a medical school and the world's first psychiatric hospital. The most famous physicians of the time like Satyr and Galenos have lived and trained here. Galenos is known as the most important figure of medical science and the father of anatomy after Hippocrates. It is also associated with pharmacology.


The importance of the Asklepion of Pergamum is a marble column with snake reliefs found in the ancient area. This column shows that the snake symbol, which is used for many activities related to the health sector such as medicine and pharmacy, is used here for the first time. According to Greek mythology, the symbol of medicine, which has reached the present day, consists of a snake wrapped around a scepter believed to belong to the physician-god Asklepios. The symbol of medicine consists of a snake, scepter and silver tasted around a wand. According to the legend; The god of medicine, Asklepios, always wandered with his snake wand, silver bow, rooster and dog. The ability of the skin  change of serpents is accepted to be associated with the immortality of the serpent and its renewability. According to the Asclepius culture, physicians will be neutr as snakes and they will not tell the secrets of the patients to anybody; that is, even before the oath of Hippocrates,  the rule of hiding the patient's secrets  is also applied in Ancient Greece.

Red Courtyard / Serapis Temple / Red Basilica

The Temple of Serapis, which is the largest ancient structure of Pergamon, or the Red Basilica, or as the people saying, is known as the Temple of the Gods of Egypt. The structure dedicated to the goddess Isis who provides connection between gods and human and Harporakes. later the building was dedicated to the Apostle John and became one of the 7 churches of the Revelation. İn the lower city which is on the foot of Acropolis there are Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk and Ottoman works. One of the most important of these is the 'Red Courtyard'.

The use of the red courtyard name comes from the fact that it is made of red firebrick. That's why the people called the building as Red Courtyard. At first, all the bricks were covered with colored marble slabs, but long ago marble was poured. There is only some small amount of areas left. Kizil Avlu, is at  a distance of 1 km from the center of Bergama and located in the area known as the down town in history. With two circular towers symmetrically seated on both sides of the basilica, it displays a unique structure.


One of the towers in the Red Courtyard which was used during the Seljuk and Ottoman periods was better protected than the other. The other tower has become a little more ruined than the used one. In fact, one of the towers was also used as a prison in the time of the Ottoman Empire, so  the other one was quite devastated because of not being used for a long time.

The building, M.S. II. It is thought to have been built by the Roman Emperor Hadrianus in the 19th century. Nowadays a large part of this courtyard is buried under the surrounding houses. The Selinus river flows through two ancient tunnels which still be seen today.  

Because of the worship of the goddess Isis and god Harpocrates, the statues and pedestals in the courtyard are enormous. So they can be associated with egypt culture by thinking of enormous dimensions of monuments which were used by Egyptian civilization.