Located 100 km north of Izmir in the Bakirçay
river basin, Bergama is one of Turkey's oldest civilized settlements and it has
been inhabited from pre-historic times through the Ionic, Roman and Byzantine
civilizations. It has yielded archeological treasures of which importance is
recognized world-wide.To the southwest of Bergama, Asclepion, an important
health center of the ancient world, the acropolis founded on top of a steep hill
(300 m) and the Temple of Serapis (Kizil Avlu) make this area a fascinating stop
for history-loving tourists. The Altar of Zeus was smuggled to Germany in 1897.
The modern day name comes directly from its
ancient name, Pergamum. Known for centuries for its monuments, it was a great
city and served as the centre of Pergamum kingdom. Its location made it
strategic in the Middle Ages and it was the centre of the Karesiogullari
Principality before it finally became a part of the Ottoman State. The city's
golden era was during the reign of Attalos I and his son Eumenes II, the time
when an acropolis, theatre and other important projects were completed. It was
an important city in the Roman period. The city experienced many developments
during the reign of Hadrian (117-138 AD), and it was adorned with Roman works of
art. In the Byzantine era after the spread of Christianity, Bergama was first
under the influence of the bishopric of Ephesus, and then became a
Climate dominates the region. Summers are hot and dry while winters are mild and
How to Go
The main bus station is at the south end of the town centre, although many
buses coming from other cities will drop passengers off on the edge of town.
There are regular services from Ayvalik (45 mins) and Izmir (2 hours), and one
or two daily to Afyon (7 hours), Ankara (11 hours) and Istanbul (10
Bus Station Tel: (0232) 633 1519.
The nearest station is at Soma, 45km away, which is on the main line between
Izmir and Bandirma.
Where to Visit
Bergama Archeology Museum
The museum contains over 10,000 archaeological
and ethnographic works. The archaeological artefacts belong to the Bronze,
Archaic, Classic, Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine ages, and ethnographic
exhibits consist of Ottoman relics and articles from the Bergama region.
Exhibited in the outer garden of the museum are tombstones and sarcophaguses,
while the inner garden contains pieces of architecture, reliefs, colossal
statues and stone inscriptions.
Museum Tel: +90 232 631 28 83
Opening hours: 08.30-12.00 & 13.00-17.00, closed on Mondays.
The Acropolis was built on an extremely steep
hill, approached by a winding road ascending some 300m. In this uniquely
designed city, religious, official, social and commercial buildings are all
found side-by-side. On top of this hill, which has been inhabited since ancient
times, are the palaces of the King of Pergamum. There are also five cisterns and
an arsenal on the hill. Below these buildings is the Temple of Athena, as well
as the Library and the Temple of Trajan. The Altar of Zeus was carefully placed
below these buildings on a terrace. One of the steepest amphitheatres in the
world is found here. The lowest section of the acropolis is the gymnasium and
the Temple of Demeter. Because of the topographical location of the city and the
course of the main street, all the buildings of the acropolis are line up in a
north-south fashion, but the buildings all face west so that they can be seen
from far away. The Altar of Zeus was not encircled with colonnades for the same
reason. The Agora and Athena Temple also have an unobstructed view of the plain.
The Temple of Athena
The temple columns and architrave pieces are still in Berlin. The fact that
the city's most important temple is the Temple of Athena, as it is in Izmir,
Milet, Eriythrai, Foca and Assos as well, reflects the religious tradition of
Western Anatolia. Eumenes II had a two-storey covered walkway built along the
length of the eastern and northern sides in the Hellenistic style, to
commemorate his successful war against the Seleucids, Celts and Macedonians.
Adjacent to the sacred site of the Temple of Athena, are the remains of the
famous Pergamum library. The library, whose entrance used to be on the top floor
of the gallery, dates back to the reign of Eumenes II and contains a magnificent
reading room measuring 13.53 x 15.35 metres. Equipped with wooden shelves, the
library also contained a 3.5m high statue of Athena, which is now in the Berlin
Museum. During the reign of Eumenes II, the holding capacity of the library
multiplied immensely, and its only equal in the world was the Library of
The military arsenal is on the north end of the acropolis, on the other side
of the palaces and the Trajaneun, approximately 10m downhill. There are five
compartments, all parallel to one another.
This, the highest terrace in the acropolis, was
made for the Roman Emperor Trajan, who was declared to be divine and before
that, there was undoubtedly a Hellenistic structure on this site. Measuring 68 x
58 m, the temple sits perched upon a high terrace surrounded on three sides by
covered promenades. Hadrian had the temple built for his predecessor Trajan,
but it is known that both of the emperors were worshipped here because the
colossal heads of statues of Trajan and Handrian honouring them were found here.
These items are also on display in the Museum of Berlin.
Built on a very steep slope, the Pergamum theatre is one of the Hellenistic
period's finest architectural achievements. The steepest amphitheatre in western
Anatolia, it has a capacity of 10,000 people. In Hellenistic times the stage
was made of wood; set up for the performances and then taken down again.
The Temple of Dionysos
The people of Pergamum built this very alluring temple on the north side of
the 250m- long theatre terrace, specifically so it would dominate the landscape
of the area. This well-preserved temple with its beautiful profile and altar is
a prostylos built upon a podium in the Ionic style. This exquisite monumental
structure with its distinctively Roman understanding of art, located at the end
of a long road, was a big influence on the European Baroque school of
architecture. The building underwent radical changes during the Roman era. The
original Hellenistic and Roman pieces are in the Museum of Berlin.
The Altar of Zeus
Located about 25m below the lower terrace of the Temple of Athena, the altar
was positioned at the very centre of a 69m x 77m area. It is likely that the
area was open on every side so that it could be easily seen for miles around.
Its reliefs are not background ornaments, but play just as important role as the
altar itself. The altar, only the foundation of which is still in Pergamum, has
been reconstructed and is today on display, with all of its reliefs, in the
Upper and Lower Agoras
The Agoras (Forum) are terraces located south of the Altar of Zeus and were
built in the Hellenistic period in the style of Hermes, the god of commerce.
Because of the levels of the surrounding land, the covered patios are three
storeys on the outside, but only one inside. The Upper Agora was once the focal
point of social and commercial activities in the city, although little remains
of it today. South of the gymnasium is the Lower Agora, work and homes of the
common people. The main street of the city passed right through the middle of
the Agora, and below is the Temple of Demeter, the place where rituals for a
better after life were practiced.
The magnificent gymnasium of Pergamum was located on three terraces, one
above the other. Inscriptions have been found which indicate that the first
floor was for children, the second floor for youth and the top floor for adults.
The Upper Gymnasium is also known as the Ceremony Gymnasium. All three of these
gymnasiums were built during the dynastic period during the second half of the
3rd century BC.
Asclepion translates as 'place of Aesklepios', the son of Apollo and the god
of healing and health, and was an important health centre in Greco-Roman times.
Among the types of therapy practiced here were mud baths, sports, theatre,
psychotherapy and use of medicinal waters. A colonnaded street leads to the
Asclepion, and to the left of the entrance is the temple of Asclepios. This
domed temple with its exceptionally thick 3m walls was built in 150 AD, with
donations made to the god of health. The interior was decorated with colorful
marble mosaics, and surrounded by galleries on three sides, the Aesklepion has a
passageway running through the centre alongside the sacred spring towards the
therapy building. It is thought that patients were cured here by the sound of
running water and by the persuasive hypnotic techniques used by the priests.
The Temple of Serapis
The biggest structure and best-known attraction
in the town is the Kizil Avlu (Red Basilica), a temple made of red brick
dedicated to the gods of Egypt. The temple lies in what is now the modern day
town of Bergama. The two pools in the temple with towers indicate ritual
cleansing rites and a religious background that was neither Greek nor Roman. The
fact that it faces west, and is decorated with statues in an Egyptian style,
indicates that it was possibly presented to Serapis, the Egyptian god of the
underworld. In the Byzantine period, it was turned into a church by extensive
remodelling, especially to the apse sections, and was dedicated to the Apostle
John. In early Christianity, it was one of the Seven Churches of Asia Minor
addressed by St John in the Book of Revelation, who referred to it as the throne
of the Devil. Although a crumbling ruin, it still contains the remains of a
mosque in one of the towers.
Among the mosques located in Bergama are Ulu Mosque, Sadirvan Mosque, Seljuk
Minaret, Kursunlu Mosque, Haci Hekim Mosque in the bazaar, Laleli Mosque on the
road to Asclepion, Yeni Mosque and Emir Sultan Minaret.
Between the leather shops and the Ekin Guild on Seftali Street, this
caravanserai was probably built between 14th and 15th centuries, judging from
the construction techniques used. It is obvious that there was also a vaulted
bazaar here. There is window in the small section of the room made from
horizontally laid bricks, and laid into a wall made from small stones and
mortar. The small consoles under the eaves on one side of the room is a style
specific to Pergamum, and there are eight brick-framed windows in this wall.
Tas (Stone) Inn
Located on Rustiye Mektebi Street, beside the Küplü Baths, the inscription
above the door indicate that this caravanserai was built during the reign of
Sultan Mehmet's son, Sultan Murat, in 835 (1432 according to the Gregorian
calendar). The inscription is written on chiselled stone, underneath which is a
low arch made in classical Turkish design, using nine stones with marble
door-posts. Traces of arches in front of the door indicate that there was also a
vault or dome here one time. Upon entering the door, on the right are vaulted
rooms that were used as a barn, and a room reserved for writing documents. In
places were the vaults have fallen, wooden coverings have been added.
The Kozak High plateau, 20 km from Bergama, can be reached by taking the
Mahmudiye Thermal Spring
The radioactivity in these 26ºC waters is relatively high. There is no
calcium in these sodium rich springs.
Geyiklidag Thermal Spring
These hot springs, rich in sulphur, are used to treat people suffering from
chronic infection syndrome, chronic upper respiratory infections and nephritis.
Situated between Bergama and Kozak Bucak, there are no facilities around this
Güzellik Thermal Spring
Located 4 km from Bergama, Guzellik Thermal Spring has is a domed facility
with two marble pools. Built in the reign of the Pergamum King Eumenes, the
spring known as The Eskulap Baths has been famous for years. Today there are
bungalows and a hotel belonging to Bergama adjacent to the forest where the
spring is located. The temperature of the water is around 35ºC, and the sodium
bicarbonate and sulphuric waters of this spring are good for those suffering
from rheumatism, kidney disorders or cardiovascular conditions. In addition,
people with oily skin are believed to benefit from its beautifying powers.
Cleopatra is even rumoured to have visited the spring when she was in Pergamum,
and owes a portion of her much celebrated beauty to the fact that she bathed
here. The relatively high radioactivity of the water is equal to 1.5 eman.
Haydar Thermal Spring
North of Pergamum in the village of Ilica near Kozak, there are the ruins of
a Roman bath, but the area is best known for the hot sulphurous spring waters,
good for muscle aches and certain skin conditions.
West of the district of Bergama, 15km from Altinova is a treatment centre
with curative baths said to be beneficial for sufferers of several
What to Buy
The textile industry in Bergama is quite
developed and it is especially famous for its rugs. Sheets, thin cotton cloth
suitable for shirts, woollen bags, prayer rugs, and other carpets are woven
here. The ceramic plate shops along the Bergama Creek are worth paying a visit.
This industry, which for years has been passed on from father to son, is still a
family business but bigger companies have also become involved in this important
Don't Leave Without
Visiting Pergamum ancient city.
Bathing in the thermal springs
Buying some of Bergama's famous 'tulum' cheese and Turkish delight