Pergamum (or Pergamon) was once the second city of Asia Minor, with a population of 2-300,000. Situated in a fertile well-watered valley a bit inland, the present city of Bergama is laced with Roman and Christian antiquities as well as the famous hilltop Acropolis and little-visited lowland Asclepeion. They filled the time around our one-night stay.
Across a tiny river in the old town we found Hera Boutique Hotel, recommended in Lonely Planet Turkey, and secured the Zeus room for 100 Euros, breakfast included, from the hospitable proprietor, who prefers speaking French to English. She said she and her husband returned here on retiring from careers in Istanbul. He runs another hotel nearby, with a restaurant. She hoped we would stop in there.
Nice views over the old town from the room. A little balcony on the side.
We put on our hikers and set out to climb the hill to the Acropolis. Found the residents friendly.
The road winds almost completely around the hill ascending to the summit. It was hot work, and we plunked down with fresh-squeezed orange juice in the busy little bazaar by the entrance before proceeding.
The ancient city was as big again on the lowland plain of which we had great views but for some reason got no pictures.
We hitched a ride down on the funicular. Did indeed stop by husband’s restaurant, Cybele (or a name that sounds like), a harmoniously rectangular quite formal dining room in what was once a schoolroom, where we were at 5:30 pm the only customers. A young man in a suit served us a delicious simple dinner of pasta and salad, and the price (under $30) was right. The husband came by and said hello.
As prayers issued simultaneously from the loudspeakers of 34 mosques, I drifted off to have the best sleep of my life.
Ancient pine in the Asclepeion:
Four Korean gents were sitting under the tree reading from a bible and singing. Very friendly, effusively Christian; the most talkative one lives in Maryland — a doctor, I think. They did a whole thing on the stage of the theatre, with hallalujas and peals of laughter of missionary zeal …
The Asclepeion or sanctuary of Asclepius was established by Galen in the 2nd century CE in the name of the mythic founder of medicine.
This is the omphalos, the navel, the belly-button. I think. But of what?
Working drainage system +2000 years old:
And a working spring …
Saw in different places horse-drawn wagons in use, brightly painted and festooned, pulled by donkeys sometimes …