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Opening a fascinating window on to the ancient world, this palatial three-wing complex unites a rich feast of classical sculpture and monumental architecture from Greece, Rome, Babylon and the Middle East, including the radiant-blue Ishtar Gate from Babylon, the Roman Market Gate of Miletus and the Caliph's Palace of Mshatta. Note that extensive renovations put the namesake Pergamon Altar and several rooms off-limits until 2023. Budget at least two hours for this amazing place and be sure to use the free and excellent audioguide.
The Pergamon unites three major collections, the Antikensammlung (Collection of Classical Antiquities), the Museum für Islamische Kunst (Museum of Islamic Art) and the Vorderasiatisches Museum (Museum of the Ancient Near East). The temporary entrance first leads you to the last of these, into the world of Babylon during the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar II. It's impossible not to be awed by the reconstructed Ishtar Gate, the Processional Way leading up to it and the facade of the king’s throne hall. All are sheathed in glazed bricks glistening in radiant blue and ochre. The strutting lions, horses and dragons, which represent major Babylonian gods, are so striking that you can almost hear the roaring and fanfare.
Another key exhibit on the ground floor is the giant Market Gate of Miletus (2nd century AD). Merchants and customers once flooded through here on to the market square of this Roman trading town (in today’s Turkey), which functioned as a link between Asia and Europe.
Aside from the caliph's palace, a major standout upstairs in the Islamic collection is the 17th-century Aleppo Room from the house of a Christian merchant in Syria, with its richly painted, wood-panelled walls. If you look closely, you can make out The Last Supper and Mary and Child amid all the ornamentation (straight ahead, to the right of the door).
While the renovations take place, highlights from the Pergamon Altar are displayed in a temporary rotunda nearby at Am Kupfergraben (opposite the Bode-Museum) against the backdrop with a 360° panorama by Yadegar Asisi. The exhibit opens in late summer 2018 and will run until the Pergamon Altar reopens.