5 Nights Exploring the Ephesus Region: Day 4 Ancient City of Pergamon and Modern Bergama

From Selçuk, we did a long day trip up to the ancient city of Pergamon near modern day Bergama. It was a 2 hour drive if you took the toll roads. We love a good set of ruins, so wanted to get up there. The drive was easy, as it is most of the time in Turkey. Roads are good here, particularly toll roads. But even the regular roads and in good condition.

Pergamon (also called Pergamum and Pergamos) was a powerful and rich city in Ancient Greece. It was part of Mysia, a region in NW Asia Minor. The ruins are inland and up on a large hill, overlooking the region. It’s a winding drive up from the modern city of Bergama. Settlement goes back as far as the Archaic period (late 8th century BC) based on archaeological finds and it was first recorded in literature about 400 BC. For more information on Pergamon, read here.

There is a small parking lot at the top of the mountain near the entrance. There are also paid toilets (I think they were just squat), a cafe, gift shop, and a sky lift/ski chair thing down the mountain. You could also park at the bottom of the mountain and ride it round trip to avoid driving up.

There were only a few people when we arrived and we were able to avoid them. This was good as it was hot in mid August and we wanted to be able to take off our masks. The site is large and on a hill, so there is some walking up and down and rough terrain. Signage was good and in English and Turkish. The two biggest sites are Athena’s Temple and the very large and very steep theater (steepest in the Hellenistic period). We enjoyed scrambling and climbing rocks, as well as the view of the lake.

There is not much shade, except what you get from structures casting shadows. We brought our own snack and found a small tree to eat under and get a break. We ended with going down the theater steps (SO STEEP) and then walking along the lower level to find a road/path heading back up the hill to Zeus’ temple (altar? not much left except a tree).

The kids really, really wanted to take the sky chair down the mountain. So I took the kids and DH and his parents drove the car down. You can buy one way or round trip tickets. You pay at the bottom regardless of starting point. It was fun going down the mountain, though there are not really any views on that side. The lower starting/ending point is here.

The site took us about 2 hours to do. We could have done longer had it been a bit cooler.

Our next stop was needing lunch. We ended up eating at Altın Döner, a steak restaurant a few blocks from the Bergama Museum and on the main road. It had plenty of seating. My T-bone steak was overcooked, but the bon file steak and the tavuk sis were good. It was also across from an ice cream shop, which was convenient as we’d promised the kids ice cream!

Our final stop in Bergama was the Bergama Museum, which is small and holds archaeological finds. It had an outside courtyard with items and several rooms inside with various displays of statues and finds. It was interesting and worth a stop. They also had a good bathroom.

Because of timing, and a desire not to outdo the kids with archaeological sites, we did not do the Red Hall Basilica (Kızıl Avlu), a Roman-era temple worshiping Egyptian gods, or the Asclepieion of Pergamon. If you have more time, both could be worth doing.

Upon getting home, the kids did a swim and we had dinner. It was my husband’s and my anniversary, so we went out to get a drink on the town and found a cute restaurant for a glass of wine and some child-free talking. A big advantage of grandparents visiting!

For the other days, see here.

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