Pergamon is an ancient Greek city that can be found in western Turkey. Formerly the Kingdom of Pergamon capital, it reached its zenith during the Hellenistic period; more specifically, Pergamon was ruled by the Attalid dynasty, whose Kingdom of Pergamon was significant between the years of 282 and 133 BC. All this helps to make Pergamon an excellent destination for history enthusiasts, and those with architectural interests are also likely to enjoy a visit.

The ancient city of Pergamon is found in the area of the modern-day city of Bergama. The main ruin sites lie to the north and west of the city. Not far from the area is the Aegean Sea, so Pergamon enjoyed a good strategic location during its heyday. Much like ancient Athens, Pergamon featured an impressive acropolis to go with its strategic location near the water. The generous Attalid rulers were known to send gifts to the city from Pergamon, and the Acropolis of Pergamon was modeled after the Athens Acropolis.



Much of Pergamon has been lost due to looting, the natural wear of weather, and other things. Some interesting relics still remain, however. Among them is the Asklepion. This ruined structure was a famous medical center, where medical scholars teamed up with physicians to provide remedies for Asklepion visitors who suffered from health problems, and there was a sacred spring where patients could bathe. Those who felt that they were healed often showed their gratitude by presenting the Asklepion staff with gifts. This belief is supported by archaeological findings, some of which are small terracotta pieces that resemble body parts that were healed. The Attalids bequeathed Pergamon to Rome in 133 BC, and it was under subsequent Roman rule that the Asklepion became a world famous healing center.

Red Basilica

Red Basilica
Red Basilica

Another ruined structure that Pergamon visitors won’t want to miss is the Red Basilica. Situated south of the Acropolis area, this temple was built by the Romans, and there are some historians that believe that it may have been constructed under the order of Hadrian. One of the Five Good Emperors, Hadrian also ordered the construction of other renowned structures during his reign, including Hadrian’s Wall (Great Britain) and the Temple of Venus and Roma (Rome). One of the reasons why the Red Basilica of Pergamon deserves recognition is the fact that it is one of the largest surviving Roman structures that you will find within the realms of the ancient Greek world.

Tours of Pergamon

Tours of Pergamon
Tours of Pergamon

Tours allow visitors to gain excellent insight into the ancient city of Pergamon, and it is possible to arrange guided tours if you don’t want to go it alone. The city of Izmir is a popular place to arrange them, and in addition to the Asklepion and the Red Basilica, the featured ruins that can be enjoyed on a Pergamon tour include the Acropolis and the reconstructed remains of the second century BC Temple of Trajan. The Acropolis is separated into two main parts. There is the Upper Acropolis, which is home to the Temple of Trajan, and the Lower Acropolis. The Upper Acropolis was also formerly home to the Great Altar of Pergamon, or the Altar of Zeus, as it is also known. All that remains at the original site of the famous altar, however, is its base. The actual altar, which dates back to the second century BC, was brought to Germany under agreement with the Turkish government in the late 1800s. It was reconstructed and is on display at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin.

If you want to see more ruins, you don’t have to plan a separate trip to Berlin. In the Bergama city center is the Bergama Museum. Among other things, this museum features a model of the Altar of Zeus. Other highlights at Pergamon itself include the partially reconstructed Temple of Athena, the remnants of a Hellenistic theater, and the ancient city’s library, to name a few. It is fascinating to think that the library at Pergamon was once one of the most famous libraries in the ancient world; its only rivals at the time of its glory were the libraries in the cities of Alexandria and Antioch. Unfortunately, little more than a pile of stones mark the remains of the Library of Pergamon.

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