Known as the birth place of modern medicine, UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Pergamon is the colourful face of Aegean with its ancient city, rugs, weddings and authentic lifestyle.
Contributor: FİLİZ ALTUN
As you walk around the streets and explore Pergamon, you sense that this city is not all about history; it is a distinct region with an authentic nature, blessings, people and colours. Pergamon, situated between the bayous of Bakırçay, hosted five different cities each rising over the ruins of the previous one. Findings show that the first settlement in the city dates back to 8th century B.C. The city built over a 330 metres high hill, today home to the remains of Acropolis, was initially ruled by the Persians and later by Alexander the Great. City changed hands many times due to treachery, and became a glorious kingdom between 283-133 B.C.
SNAKE AND BOWL
The symbol of medicine
The oldest known symbol of medicine and pharmacy snake and bowl was discovered in Pergamon.
ORIGIN OF PARCHMENT
The first major invention by Pergamon Kingdom that transformed into a culture and art civilization and shaped the humanity in the golden age of Roman Era, was “parchment”, a type of paper made of animal skin. Did you know that this seemingly simple invention lead to the first bound book in the history? Pergamon had a library that outshone Alexandria thanks to parchment paper used in book making long before papyrus was invented in Ancient Egypt. Acropolis is one of the best spots to begin touring Pergamon which today resembles a typical Aegean settlement. You must rent a taxi from city centre to reach Acropolis where ruins of Zeus Altar, Athena Temple, ancient theatre, Pergamon Library and Dionysus Temple are located. However if you wish to see the Zeus Altar, a unique monument in Pergamon, you must visit the Pergamon Museum in Berlin!… The theatre located at Upper Agora is also the steepest ancient theatre in the world. It is also a thrill to watch Pergamon Plain from stone steps. The columns of the city and ruins of the famous library are perfect structures to picture the ancient life of the period…
OLD TURKISH HOUSES
King’s Way ranging from Acropolis to the city, reaches Lower Agora in Pergamon ancient city. Following the ruins and entering the city, one comes across the Red Courtyard also referred to as Basilica. Basilica, one of the first seven churches in Anatolia, is a prominent destination for belief tourism. Asclepeion ruins in the West is the other star of Pergamon. There is another major structure here beside ancient theatre, pool and clinics: Asclepeion, the first site where the symbol of medicine and pharmacy, coiled snake figure was seen, is where numerous discoveries in the field of medicine were made. There is a lot to see here; one must allocate at least two days to properly visit Pergamon. Because it is a settlement full of surprises with its colourful streets and neighbourhoods… It is possible to come across a kid running, an old man going up the hill or an old house with a wooden house and fancy doorknob around every corner. Talatpaşa Neighbourhood comprised of old Turkish houses scattered on Acropolis’ side is another spot worth visiting. Ascending streets paved with cobblestones resembles a mirror of the past with colourful houses… The square referred to as Main Ground, is a peaceful place where time freezes and the sounds of children running around under the trees rise. In shops located right across Red Courtyard, world-famous Pergamon rugs are sold as well as antiques. Some old houses in the area were renovated by Turkish Republic Ministry of Culture. Some of the most remarkable buildings in the area are Old Vocational High School for Girls, Küplü Bathhouse and Old Parish House. Don’t you think these are enough to visit Pergamon?
Legacy of Ancestors
Rugs with a past dating back to 15th century, get their patterns from the rich nature of the region.
WHAT TO EAT?
Pergamon with a wide range of restaurants serving home-cooked meals, also offers grills, kebabs, olive oil and pot meals and stews. Pergamon tulum cheese can usually be found at tables. Hot pita is served before orders are placed. Tandoori kebab, fresh herbs and lokma dessert are other popular dishes in the region.
WHAT TO BUY?
Weaving is quite advanced in the region. Pergamon rugs, colourful textiles, antiques, wooden kitchen utensils, decorative objects, honey and herbal teas can be purchased. The nearest airport to Pergamon is in İzmir.
DO NOT MISS
You cannot have a complete Pergamon experience before visiting Kozak highlands. After taking Kozak turn from the centre, the highland villages scattered around pine nut forests, offer a sight like an oil painting.
HOW TO GO?
You can catch a bus or minibus at intercity bus terminal in Izmir, 170 kilometres to Pergamon. Another option is to rent a car or a jeep at Izmir airport. Daily fee for rental vehicles start from 150 Lira.