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Bergama + Pergamon

Wednesday 10th May

We got up before 6am to get a taxi to the Yenikapi ferry terminal in time for the 7am ferry to Bandirma, only to find when we got there that it was full. So we had to change our plans. We got the ferry to Bursa's ferry port, a 20km taxi to the Bursa bus terminal, a 5 hour bus to Izmir, a bus to Bergama's bus terminal, and finally a taxi into Bergama proper. All up six trips and twelve and a half hours from hotel door to hotel door!

But the bus trips were all comfortable, so that wasn't nearly as bad as it sounds.

The best way to get from Istanbul to Bergama, and the route we had planned, is to get the ferry from the Yenikapi ferry port to Bandirma. That meets the train to Izmir, but you get off that at Sost and get a minibus from there that drops you right in the centre of Bergama.
a Bergama rug shop
the Akropolis Guesthouse

Thursday 20th May

Gabi and I visited the Bergama/Pergamon Akropolis separately, since she didn't want to do much climbing and, unlike me, had already seen a lot of Roman ruins.

So after a late breakfast I headed off. The guesthouse owner had told me about a hole in the fence at the bottom of the Akropolis — maybe 100 metres away from the guesthouse as the crow flies — so I didn't have to walk 2 kilometres or more along a boring switchback road to the top. Instead I started at the bottom and worked my way up, then came back down and went out the way I'd gone in.

There's nothing like a complete building left, so at first the "ruin aesthetic" dominated completely. After a while, however, the spatial layout started to make sense and the good interpretive signs (produced by German archaeologists) helped to give some feel for what it might have been like to have lived in Pergamon. The most complete building has been roofed over to protect some lovely mosaics.

This was my first experience of Mediterranean countryside, so as well as the ruins I enjoyed the proliferation of flowers and a variety of insects (bees, ants, dragonflies, beetles, etc.) as well as snails, lizards, two tortoises (one of which hissed at me quite loudly), and raptors overhead.

sheep on the lower Akropolis
the running track of the gymnasium
looking down on modern Bergama
the Pergamon theatre
a tortoise

I had the place to myself completely until I reached the upper Akropolis, where I could see people peering down at me. When I got up to the top there were maybe half a dozen groups of twenty or so, all being guided around, and maybe half a dozen couples.

In the afternoon we visited the Asklepion, a famous medical centre where Galen practised. We had dinner in a restaurant in the old part of town, with a view two ways, down over the city and up at the Akropolis. And the guest house gave us a plate of cherries and strawberries for dessert - we also had a box of coconutty sweets which we'd picked up at the bus station in Izmir.

Bergama street
Bergama house
the Asklepion
the Red Basilica

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