Pergamon tour is one of the important ones as Pergamon is a premier antique city founded by ancient Greeks in the western Anatolia, The Pergamon kingdom was famed to house more than 200 thousand scrolls of books in their library. They were honoured as the inventors of parchment paper, goat skin made paper, in history. They kept their enormous number of books in the building called today Red Hall. Pergamons had a passion for books that made Egyptians so jealous, later Mark Antonius and Cleopatra demanded Pergamon books for the Library of Alexandria.
The earliest findings suggests that the Pergamon (or Pergamum, today’s Bergama) was settled as early as the 8th century B.C. Considering its distant location from the sea, Pergamon was probably not a Greek settlement and yet little is known about the earlier centuries. The first record of history to the city is in 399 B.C. and it was under a Greek ruler.
Pergamon emerged as a power kingdom under the Attalids dynasty after territorial struggles between the generals of Alexander the Great, Seloucus I Nicator of Syria and Lysimachos, who was slain at the battle of Compedion in 281 BC by Seloucus I Nicator. Lysimachos had no heir to succeed him because earlier he had killed his own son Agathocles. After the death of Lysimachos, Pergamon was founded by Philetaerus who was the commander of Pergamon and was in charge of Lysimachos’s treasure in the fortress of the acropolis or upper city. Philetaerus used this treasure to consolidate his position and his new kingdom.
The acropolis sits on an impressive steep ridge between the two tributaries of the Caicus river. The ridge is naturally fortified on all but the South side which slopes down to the Caicus valley base. The Caicus valley provides access from Pergamon to the Aegean coast and to the port town of Elaea in the West and the Persian Royal Road to the East.
Pergamon became the most prominent cultural center of the Hellenistic period for 150 years. Eumenes I, Attalos I and Eumenes II were enthroned successively after Philetarios. Eumenes II took acropolis of Athens as an example and had the acropolis of Pergamon adorned with works of art which reflected fine taste, and Pergamon became one of the most graceful cities of the world. Attalos III who succeeded Attalos II, handed over his kingdom to the Romans, he died in 133 B.C. Pergamons were among the most loyal supporters of Rome among the Hellenistic states.
Pergamon city is of two main divisions, the steep upper town and the flat lower town. Despite the removal or destruction of many buildings, a number of important remains have survived to date. Amongst the Asklepieion, one of the major healing centres of antiqity, the Red Hall (Serapeum), the stadium, a Roman Bridge and tunnels. But of these two, it is the upper town that fascinates the visitors with its extensive remains. The upper town, which was fortified in the 4th or 3rd century B.C. houses the 3rd century Sanctuary of Athena, the oldest cult center of the town as well as palace quarters, barracks, and arsenals. In the 2nd century B.C. the 10,000 seat theater, the library adjacent to the Sanctuary of Athena, and the Great Altar of Zeus and Athena were added. In the 2nd century A.D. the monumental Trajaneum was erected on what must have been an earlier unknown cult center. From the upper agora a paved main street leads South and downslope to the middle town.
Pergamon extended down the South slope in the 3rd century B.C. and during the 2nd century a massive building program completely transformed the entire lower slope. The major construction in the area was the gigantic gymnasium complex which extended down three large terraces linked by vaulted stairways and passages. The complex encorporated three open training courts, a covered track or xystus, a small theater or odeum, several shrines, and two large baths. Other major sections of the middle city included the Sanctuary of Demeter and Kore and, below the gymnasium along the main street leading to the Eumenes’ Gate, the lower agora. North and east of the gymnasium massive terraces support the streets and houses of the residential quarter. In the first half of the 2nd century B.C. Eumenes II strengthened the entire fortification system of Pergamon and enclosed all of the middle city, which extended almost to the base of the south slope, within the new walls.
During the Roman Imperial period the city continued to expand southward and spread over the plain and the area occuppied today by modern Bergama. The large Sanctuary of the Egyptian Gods (the “Kizil Avlu”), numerous bridges, and remains of the Roman stadium, theater, and amphitheater remain visible today.
During the reign Eumenes II (197-159 B.C.) Pergamon eached its peak. The kingdom had grown to include most of western Anatolia and was rich in agriculture and industry. Noted industrial exports included textiles, fine pottery, and “Pergamene paper” or parchment. The last industry developed when Ptolemy, reportedly jealous of the growing fame of the library in Pergamon, prohibited the export of papyrus from Egypt. The envied library possessed some 200,000 volumes. These later went to enrich Mark Antony’s rival library in Alexandria. Pergamon rivalled Athens and Alexandria as centers of Hellenic culture. The city possessed one of the greatest libraries of antiquity, monumental gymnasia, and numerous religious sanctuaries, including the Asklepion outside the city walls. Pergamon was a haven for noted philosophers and artists and was the center of a major movement in Hellenistic sculpture. The Attalids supported the arts and learning in Pergamon and elsewhere and made major donations, such as the Stoa of Attalos II in Athens.
After a slight decline in the 1st century A.D. Pergamon went through a second period of greatness in the 2nd century A.D. New monumental structures were erected, including the large (ca. 300 x 100 m) sanctuary to the Egyptian gods in the center of the Roman city. The Sanctuary of Asklepios grew in fame and was considered one of the most famous therapeutic and healing center of the Roman world. Galen, after Hippocrates the most famous physician of antiquity, was born at Pergamon and received his early training at the Asklepion. By the end of the 2nd century A.D. Pergamon had become an important Christian center and the monumental Temple of Serapis in the sanctuary to the Egyptian gods was converted to a church. Weakening of the Pax Roma resulted in economical decline consequently Pergamon lost much of its importance. In Byzantine times A.D. 716 the city was sacked by the Arabs, another wall was built higher up the hill, enclosing a still smaller area, to provide protection against threatening Arab invasions followed by also the Seljuks. In the later centuries, Pergamon was occupied by the Ottomans, 14th century, and thereafter the city on the hill was abandoned and fell into decay, while the new town, Bergama grew up on the south side of the hill.
According to the Book of Revelation, Pergamum is a dwelling place of Satan and a location of his throne, and someone called Antipas was martyred there.
The Ottoman Sultan Murad III had two large alabaster urns transported from the ruins of Pergamon and placed on two sides of the nave in the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.