Days: 524 (1 December 2015)
Total distance travelled: 133,247.8 kilometres (82,762.61 miles)
Having left the city of Bergama down below, we followed a bitumen road ever upward, to our right the steep sides of the hill, atop we’d get the occasional glimpse of the ruins we sought.
To our left (at least when we were on the southern slopes), more and more of the city revealed itself to us below, although a winter haze meant that the further we attempted to gaze, the more difficult it became.
Surprisingly, the Red Basilica dominated the skyline, still one of the tallest buildings in the city, despite it’s age of almost two thousand years.
As we circled our way around the hill (I’m not sure it’s large enough to be considered a mountain), we could see the surrounding fields, both close and distant sported many ruins as well, be they ancient aquaducts, city walls or just ancient homes or fortifications.
It seemed odd to see these pieces of history re-purposed as shelters for sheep, or as boundaries for fields.
Eventually the road brought us around a full three hundred and sixty degrees, so we were again on the south side, with the city of Bergama below, and evidence that had we felt lazier, there was an easier method by which we could have made the ascent.
We most certainly enjoyed our walk.
We paid our entrance fees, and began our exploration of this site that first rose to fame as part of ancient Greece, but also spent a lengthy period as part of, and under the protection of the Holy Roman Empire.
As high as we were, we always knew that the views were likely to be decent, and we soon found us following a small set of stairs into the very rock on which we’d stood.
Put any fears of claustrophobia aside, as it was seriously seconds before we were again emerging into the morning sunshine, but it was where we now stood that was quite awesome.
That said, if you’ve a fear of heights, then perhaps this would have scared you witless!
We now found ourselves within the steepest amphitheatre we’d ever seen, built utilising the natural height of the slope itself.
Getting over our awe, we explored the smaller ruined temples at its base, marvelled at some the fallen, but still intricate stonework, before following a path that looked as though it may lead us around to the Lower Acropolis.
When we reached a locked gate, we learned that this was folly, and there was no other option but to ascend through the theatre once more.
Still, it did give us some more awesome views over Bergama…
The other thing that was quite amazing.
We had this whole area of the ruins to ourselves!
In fact since we’d entered, we could’ve counted the others we’d spied on one hand.
Climbing our way back up top meant we had some more great views of the Pergamon theatre and the added freedom of not needing to be patient or jostle with others for shots.
Thus far, it had proven a wonderful morning.
Through old temples, peering into ancient wells and wandering now decrepit fortifications, here in the Upper Acropolis we did see the occasional wanderer, but with no real need to rush, and more incredible winter weather, the pace remained languid.
As we did have plans to continue our travels that same afternoon, we couldn’t tarry forever, but there was one last thing we wanted to tick off.
We’d read somewhere that within the site was a wonderful collection of mosaics, and given our love of a good mosaic, we began our descent towards the Lower Acropolis, again with no other company than each other.
It was as we made our way that the beautiful sound of the Muezzin and his call to prayer began to echo above the city, something I never tire of, despite a complete lack of belief in anything religious.
This lower section was home to several temples, houses and gymnasiums (in the ancient Grecian sense, where they would train and socialise naked), and it is within some of these houses, with the more addition of modern roofs too protect them from the elements, sit the mosaics.
Stunning they most certainly were, both in their size, condition, colour, but also by how surprisingly complete they were!
Due to their condition, they are also very highly valued (both in an historical sense, as well as a monetary sense), and as such there sat a small hut here staffed by two very bored looking guards (seriously, for some crazy reason most tourists don’t venture down to see these stunning works of art).
It was one of these guards who spoke a little broken English, that advised us that we were wrong in our assumption that we could leave the ruins from this lower section.
Normally, the only way out, would have been for us to climb all the way back to the top, and via the main ticket gate.
But with nothing better to do, he directed his non English speaking companion to grab a key, and effectively let us out the back door.
For the remainder of our wanderings through the old baths and gymnasiums, we had our very own armed escort!
We didn’t linger too long in this lower section, but I have little doubt we were led through areas most wouldn’t normally see, as after wandering through a final archway in the lower defensive wall, we were within a series of gated, wire fences.
Here, grasses grew amidst large pieces of ruins from both the Upper and Lower Acropolis, awaiting their day of restoration, along with piles of what looked to be ancient cannon balls (or perhaps they were from a catapult), and various other pieces.
Our armed friend unlocked one final gate, ushered us through and with a wave, bid us farewell.
* Entrance into the ruins of Pergamon cost us ₺25.00 Lire per person.
* At Areklion we discovered there was an Ionian Museum pass for ₺75.00 Lire that allowed entrance into 32 sites (including Pergamon which we’d already paid a separate entrance fee for)!