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Bergama
 

Located 100 km from north of İzmir in the Bakırçay river basin, Bergama is one of the Turkey’s oldest civilized settlements which, 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 (Kızıl Avlu) make this area a fascinating stop for history-loving tourists. The Altar of Zeus was smuggled to Germany in 1897.

History

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 was the centre of the Karesioğullari 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 metropolis.

Climate

The Mediterranean Climate dominates the region. Summers are hot and dry while winters are mild and rainy.

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.

Ancıent Cıtıes

Acropolis

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. The King of Pergamum is on the top of this hill, which has been inhabited since ancient times. 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.

Library

Adjacent to the sacred site of the Temple of Athena, is 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 Alexander.

Arsenals

The military arsenal is at the north end of the acropolis, on the other side of the palaces and the Trajaneun, approximately 10m from downhill. There are five compartments, all parallel to one another.

Trajaneum

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. Measured of 68 x 58 m, the temple sits perched upon a high terrace surrounded on three sides by covered promenades. Hadrian was built the temple 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.

Theater

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 Berlin Museum.

Upper and Lower Agoras

The Agoras (Forum) are terraces located on 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.

Gymnasiums

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

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 side 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), by 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.

Mogques

The mosques, that located in Bergama are; Ulu Mosque, Şadırvan Mosque, Seljuk Minaret, Kursunlu Mosque, Hacı Hekim Mosque in the bazaar, Laleli Mosque on the road to Asclepion, Yeni Mosque and Emir Sultan Minaret.

Inns

Çukur Inn

Between the leather shops and the Ekin Guild on Seftali Street, this caravanserai was probably built in between 14th and 15th centuries, judging from the construction techniques used. It is obvious that there was also a vaulted bazaar here. There is a 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.

Taş (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. The vaults in places were fallen and wooden coverings have been added.

Hıgh Plateaus

The Kozak High plateau, is 20 km from Bergama, and can be reached by taking the Bergama-Ayvalık road.

Thermal Sprıngs

Mahmudiye Thermal Spring

The radioactivity in these 26ºC waters is relatively high. There is no calcium in these sodium rich springs.

Geyiklidağ Thermal Spring

These hot springs are rich in sulphur, which in 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 area.

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 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.

Dereköy Spa

It is in the west of the district of Bergama, 15km from Altinova, has a treatment centre with curative baths said to be beneficial for sufferers of several aches.

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