Sunday, March 13, 2011

Freezing in Pergamom

how we wished we could have seen Pergamom
So.  Having departed from the "Itinerary" and gone to Ephesus two days earlier than planned, we woke up with a determination to figure out the highway system around Izmir and drive to see Pergamom.  With our trusty maps in hand, we set off for the reception desk, and a nice young man printed out another map from the internet to show us the "simple" way to get there.

We were to follow the signs to Karşıyaka, Bornova, Menemen, Aliağa, and finally Bergama - which sounded straightforward.  We went off assuming we'd just follow the signs with any or all of these words on it and we'd be fine.

Except after Bornova, no signs used any of those words.

It took me a while to finally figure out,  from the backseat after frantically looking at the large map that what we needed to do was go in the direction of "Çanakkale"... meaning Çanakkale the province.... (at this point we had turned around once in Bornova and were back on the road of what we thought as "on our way" only to have the highway suddenly dwindle to nothing in the midst of signage that said we were welcomed into a brand new bird sanctuary!

We turned around again, and I suggested we lookout for the signs to Çanakkale which meant nothing to anyone, but it ended up working just fine and soon we were on our way, passing signs directing us to all the other names on our list til finally we'd arrived into the outskirts of Begama.

Ideally you are meant to visit the Acropolis first, then the Asklepion, and finally the Red Basilica, more accurately known as the Temple of Serapis (an Egyptian god).  But we ended up doing the tour completely back to front.  In the windy icy cold!  Still we were so pleased we'd found it that we jumped out of the car and into our view of the Asklepion.

Pergamum had the fame to be the first city who showed reaction to the functional urbanism of Hippodamus as they preferred ornamental urbanism. Acropolis buildings were built and designed with the aim of impressing the ones viewing the city from the valley.

We were in the valley below.  Even the ruins were impressive!

Pergamon's  Asclepion translates as 'place of Aesklepios', the son of Apollo and the god of healing and health, and was an important health center in Greco-Roman times. Among the types of therapy practiced here were mud baths, sports, theatre, psychotherapy and use of medicinal waters.

We walked through the whole of the Asklepion, down below and onto the Sacred Way. (now i'll just post some pics with captions...)

Sacred Way
Roman theater
theater closer (nice human sized space)

entrance to the underground passageway

entrance to eventually get to the treatment rooms
a really long and slightly Freudian walk
one of the three still flowing fountains from the sacred spring
dear C taking the sacred (and still slightly radioactive) waters
Then it was onward to the Red Basilica or the Temple of Serapis.  It was HUGE and loomed over the old part of the city where it was trapped by fences.  In it's heyday it had a huge entryway road and land that extended far beyond the temple itself. (More pictures)

It was still pretty cold and windy so there weren't very many people around
one of the two towers we could explore
the other tower in use by the archaeologists
and looking up!
Then we found the road to get to the Acropolis. It was right next to the funicular!  I remembered the road being very steep and narrow with no guard rails of any kind, but I'd not really thought about T having to drive up AND back down again.  (I'd done the palm sweating exercise a couple of times, but I don't have a fear of heights!) Still at least there were a few new guard rails and the road had been fixed of most of the holes I remembered!  Still the poor guy held on really well, but at one point I got out of the car and walked ahead to make sure it was "go-able"!  He did make it both up and back down again, but he suffered!  Ironically we none of us remembered to take pictures of the blasted road up!!

So there we were at the top of what felt like the world and it was so cold and windy it brought tears to our eyes. (again with the pictures...)

on top of the world
dramatic theater sat 10,000 people
standing on what remains of Temple of Athena (not much)
Temple of Dionysus and the theater terrace
what's left of the Great Altar of Zeus (that's not in the Berlin museum)

Temple of Trajan
more bits of Trajan's temple
details of Roman Corinthian capitals
as an FYI, this is what the reconstruction in Berlin, of the great altar of Zeus looks like:

So that's our day in Pergamon.  The ride home (once we got down from the Acropolis) was fairly unevenful.  We got back with time enough to freshen up a bit and join some more special friends (and ex neighbors!) for dinner in Güzelbahçe near where we used to live. We had such a lovely evening - and we ate the most incredible seafood!!  Stuffed mussels, fresh greens, lightly battered calamari, and shrimps (etc) then for the main course a simple grilled sea bass with chips (french fries) on the side.

dear friends
beautiful starters
the main event!
For dessert we had baked halva (it turns into a sort of custardly sticky creamy thing that's slightly caramelized on top... anyway, excellent.  With out fish meal we managed to kill off a lovely bottle of Yeni Rakı Yeni Seri.

All in all a lovely day and a great evening.  We got back to the hotel late, but not bad and we all slept quite soundly and woke up for breakfast at 8.

We hit the road at 9 and acted like we knew what we were doing.

I almost feel like I'm reliving the entire vacation in real time all over again!  So.  It's just past 10 and I'm done for today.  Tomorrow I may or may not post Priene, Miletus and Didyma.  [I'll give it a try, but it may be a Tuesday post... I have to get groceries SOME time.]

I  hope you are enjoying this as much as we did when we all took the trip.  Thanks for reading it.


  1. Incredible. I love all of the photos. The food looks wonderful!
    Thanks for taking us along with you!

  2. I loved Turkey when I visited there and will never forget the incredible massage we (2 middle aged ladies) received from 2 beautiful Turkish boys at a Turkish Bath house in Izmir. Have not been so clean and smooth since.

    I am loving your trip.

  3. Excellent! Great photos and description of wonderful pieces of history that can thankfully still be admired today. I only managed to see Ephesus on my only visit to Turkey 15 years ago but this makes me want to go back.

  4. I could kick myself for not visiting Pergamon...but at least you've done it for me.

  5. Wonderful photos and description of somewhere I'd love to visit one day. Off now to explore more of your blog.

  6. This was just lovely! It obviously reminds me very much of Athens but again, much different. I think I'd really enjoy exploring this area someday. But, I'd take the funicular! :)

    Thank you so much for continuing your virtual tour for us, your readers!

    Hugs and quiches, Kitty xx



Related Posts with Thumbnails