Turkey Bergama 2001.03.24 - 03.27

Pergamum Acropolis

Bergama, formerly called Pergamum, has two historical sites of interest: the Acropolis and Asclepion. The Lonely Planet guide makes both sound like worthwhile visits. The Acropolis is. Asclepion can be missed.

In Bergama, we stayed at Athena Pension. The pension owner, Aydin, wins the "jolliest host" award. He's invariably happy and smiling, creating a relaxed, at-home atmosphere for his guests. Just after check-in, he showed us a CD-ROM of Pergamum covering the history, architecture, and topology. He subsequently gave us a map showing the "short-cut" walking path from his pension to the Acropolis through a hole in the perimeter fence. We followed his directions and avoided the admission fee.

Much of the hilltop city of Pergamum was build around 150 BC by Eumenes II. Today a significant portion remains including the Middle City halfway up the hill, a steeply sloped 10,000 seat theater, a huge library that is said to have once held more than 200,000 volumes, and a magnificent marble Temple of Trajan at the peak.

At the pension, we met an Australian couple, Peter and Rose, and a New Zealander, Anne. We leisurely explored the Pergamum Acropolis (and all wildlife roaming about including turtles, dung beetles, and snails) together.

Many kilometers from the Acropolis lies the Asclepion. Although it was an historically significant medical center contributing to the knowledge of the circulatory and nervous systems, little remains structurally. Having paid admission here, we were a bit disappointed.

In the Acropolis, the gymnasium in Middle City was enormous. Although little remains aside from the perimeter foundation, the past grandeur is evident.

The theater in the Acropolis was built into the hillside to take advantage of the view and to conserve building space at the top of the hill. The slope and flatness of the hill made rounding of the theater impossible so height was increased to hold more capacity.

The white marble remains of the Temple of Trajan at the peak of the hill are majestic.

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