Bergama Acropolis

sights / Historic

Bergama Acropolis information

Location
Bergama (Pergamum) , Turkey
Address
Akropol Caddesi 2
More information
www.muze.gov.tr/akropol
Prices
admission ₺25, audioguide ₺10
Opening hours
8am-7pm Apr-Sep, to 5pm Oct-Mar
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The road up to the Acropolis, Bergama’s richest archaeological site, wends 5km from the Red Hall to a car park at the top, with some souvenir and refreshment stands nearby. A much easier way to go is to follow the signposts along Akropol Caddesi to the lower station of the Bergama Acropolis Cable Car . The ride up takes five minutes and is worth it for the views alone. You can easily explore as you make your way down.

From the Upper City at the top, a line of rather faded blue dots marks a suggested route around the main structures – you might instead consider hiring the audioguide for ₺10. These structures include the library that helped put Pergamum on the map and the colossal marble-columned Temple of Trajan (or Trajaneum), built during the reigns of the emperors Trajan and Hadrian and used to worship them as well as Zeus. It's the only Roman structure surviving on the Acropolis, and its foundations were used as cisterns during the Middle Ages.

Immediately downhill from the temple, descend through the tunnel to the vertigo-inducing, 10,000-seat Hellenistic theatre . Impressive and unusual, its builders decided to take advantage of the spectacular view (and conserve precious space on top of the hill) by building the theatre into the hillside. In general, Hellenistic theatres are wider and rounder than this, but at Pergamum the hillside location made rounding impossible and so it was increased in height instead.

At the northern end of the theatre terrace is the ruined Temple of Dionysus , while to the south is the Altar of Zeus (also known as the Great Altar), which was originally covered with magnificent friezes depicting the battle between the Olympian gods and their subterranean foes. However 19th-century German excavators were allowed to remove most of this famous building to Berlin, leaving only the base behind.

Piles of rubble on top of the acropolis are marked as five separate palaces , including that of Eumenes II, and you can also see fragments of the once-magnificent defensive walls as well as barracks.

To escape the crowds and get a good view of the theatre and Temple of Trajan, walk downhill behind the Altar of Zeus, or turn left at the bottom of the theatre steps, and follow the sign to the antik yol (ancient street) past the Upper Agora and the bath-gymnasium. Within what was once a sprawling residential area of the Middle City is modern Building Z (2004) protecting part of a peristyle court and some fantastic floor mosaics. Look for the grotesque masks with wild animals, the child Dionysus with Silenus supping from a cup and the remnants of tinted stucco on the walls. More baths, gymnasia and the sumptuous Palace of Attalus I before reaching the Lower Agora . From here here you can exit, follow the road left for 700m and, before reaching the cable car lower station, turn right down the steep road to Akropol Caddesi leading into town.