Little is known of the city' s history before the Hellenistic period, since it belonged successively to the Lydian and the Persian realm. The dynasty of the kingdom of Pergamon began with General Philetairos (283-263 BC) and ended in 133 BC with its surrender to the Romans on the death of the last king, Attalos III. Life continued there in Roman and Byzantine times.
The acropolis occupies an impressive crag, 335 m high, above the valley of the river Caïcus (Bakir or Bergama Çay). On it are some of the most important monuments of Hellenistic and Roman architecture. Outstanding on its summit are: the temenos with the Doric temple of Athena and stoas (the two-storey propylon of the sanctuary is exhibited restored in the Pergamonmuseum, Berlin), the library contiguous with the N stoa of the sanctuary (it housed some 200,000 works written on parchment), the complex of palaces with peristyles, cisterns and other areas. At the N edge of the acropolis are food-storage magazines and the armoury. The highest point of the acropolis is dominated by the restored Trajaneum, a Roman temple in the Corinthian order built by Emperor Hadrian (AD 117-138) in honour of his father Trajan.
The large theatre is hewn from the precipitous hillside. With a cavea that could accommodate some 10,000 spectators, it ended on a terrace surrounded by Doric porticoes with a view over the valley and out to sea. Adjacent to it is the Ionic temple of Dionysos (2nd century BC).
Left of the entrance to the site, beside the modern parking lot, are the ruins of a heroon with a court, a room for the cult of the deified kings of Pergamon and various additional buildings. The remains of the upper agora (second half of 2nd century BC), with Doric stoas, shops and a small temple dedicated to Hermes, were found just below. Opposite the agora was the famous altar of the temple of Zeus, decorated in relief with scenes of the Gigantomachy (the entire monument was taken to Berlin in 1878-1890 and reconstructed in the Pergamonmuseum, where it is exhibited). In its original position there is only a section of the high pedestal with five steps. One hundred metres E of the upper agora are the installations of a small gymnasium, in which the bath area can be seen clearly, the odeum (1st century BC) and a marble hall with niche and decorative reliefs.
On descending to the town of Bergama one reaches the middle city. Clusters of houses, the great temenos of Demeter with a temple and many altars, as well as the Doric temple of Hera with the large gymnnasium complex have been excavated. On passing through the so-called 'House of Attalos' (a two-storey building with peristyle and mosaics), one enters the lower agora with Doric stoas, a large well and shops. From the imposing gateway of Eumenes II the modern houses begin. Here the Roman Sarapeion (Kızıl Avlı, i.e. Red Court) is impressive by virtue of its size and state of preservation. It was built of red bricks during Hadrian' s reign (AD 117-138) above a double tunnel that passes under the Selinous tributary. The Selinous is spanned by two Roman bridges (Tabak Köprüsü and Üç Kemer Köprüsü), which are still in use.
The Asklepieion SW of the city is dated to Hadrian' s reign. A monumental paved street with porticoes and small shops leads through a propylon to the sanctuary, where the circular temple of Zeus and Asklepios (AD 140) survives, as well as the likewise circular two-storey Therapeuterion, sanctuary of Telesphoros, with public lavatories, a fountain and wells, a library, a small theatre and Ionic porticoes in which the faithful waited.
SW of the Asklepieion are the Roman amphitheatre, the Roman theatre and the stadium of the ancient city. S of Bergama stand impressive tumuli, such as Yiğma Tepe (Hellenistic) and Maltepe (Roman) with stone enclosures and chamber tombs.
The city fell into decline in Early Christian times. The area of the acropolis became a residential quarter and houses were built on top of the ancient monuments. There are remains of an Early Christian basilica dedicated to Saint John the Theologian (or Apostle Paul) on the site of the Sarapeion, known as the Red Court or the Red Basilica. The sanctuary apse was built over the crypt.
Numerous architectural members, sculptures and inscriptions from the city' s buildings, vases from local Hellenistic workshops, as well as finds from other nearby cities (such as Pitane, Myrina, Gryneum) are exhibited in the Bergama Archaeological Museum.Wikidata ID: Q18986
Info: Archaeological Atlas of the Aegean
(Archaeological Atlas of the Aegean, Ministry of the Aegean)