View of the Temple of Trajan

Patricia was not feeling too well on our last full day in Turkey, so I went on a sightseeing trip to Pergamon by myself. The city / town of Bergama (?? -> Pergamum -> Pergamon -> Bergama) is about 75 miles north of Izmir. The roads, just as the roads from Bodrum to Izmir, are good. The speed limit is about 55 mph and most cars and trucks are somewhere in that vicinity. Of course, tractors and mopeds also use the roads, which can make things interesting.

Before we got to the Acropolis (Acro = high, polis = city) we spent some time at the Sanctuary of Asclepius, the Greek god of healing. This may have been equal parts hospital and California health scam. At the outer gates, doctors would examine the patients and, if they thought they could cure them, they would be admitted. Otherwise, the patients would be sent to another location. This is a good way to improve your success rate. There were mineral baths for soaking away some problems. On the way into the inner area, patients went through a 250 foot (80 m.) tunnel after being given a mild drug. Through small holes in the ceiling priests/doctors would call down to them that they would be cured if they followed instructions. The patients thought they were hearing the voices of the gods. The sleeping quarters was an unusual building for its time because it was round. (It was actually built after the Romans took over and was perhaps modeled on the Parthenon in Rome.) In common with other sites I have visited, there were streets lined with columns and temples and fountains. I thought the site was interesting and was surprised that I could see no more than 4 or 5 other visitors. Galen, the physician I thought was a Roman, was born and studied here before moving to Rome late in life.

Butting right up against the west edge of the site was a small military outpost with 15 or so tanks looking in at the grounds.

From the Asclepieion we drove up to the Acropolis. And we did go up. The road was narrow and when two vehicles meet, one often has to back up to a wide spot so the other can pass. That works OK when both vehicles are cars, less well when one is a bus and the other a car, and not well at all when two cars and a burro want to share the road. Blowing a car horn at a burro is ineffective in getting it to move.

The Acropolis was pretty well raided in the late 1870s and 1880s by Carl Humann and much of the material, including the famous Altar of Zeus, is now in a museum in Berlin. But I did like what was left. There are columns and half-columns, both standing and fallen over. There is part of a massive city wall. There are parts of friezes all over. And, underfoot everywhere, are the remnants of streets and buildings. From the Acropolis the view of the surrounding territory is beautiful. The theater, which has the steepest slope of the known Greek theaters, could seat 10,000 people. My guide told me that only the richest and most powerful people actually lived in/on the Acroplis and everyone else lived down in the town. I would not have been happy if I had to climb that hill once or more every day.

I added some pictures of this tour to the Pictures Gallery.

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