Pergamum has to be explored on foot. Touring the site requires fairly strenuous walking up and
downhill and on uneven ground. The site of the Asclepion is on level ground. Sturdy walking shoes
and a sun hat are essential. You may want to wear long pants to avoid scratches from the briar
bushes covering the ground.
Depart from Dikili Port to Pegamum, passing through the fertile plains watered by the Selinus River,
a site settled by one civilization after another since ancient times. The city of Pergamum was ruled
by Lydians and by Persians before falling to Alexander the Great in 334 BC. When Alexander died,
control of the city passed to one of his generals, Lysimahchus, who controlled a great part of the
Aegean region. After Lysimachus’ death a cascade of kings and emperors ruled the city and the
kingdom of which it was the center, from Philatairos to Attalus to Eumenes, to Atallus II, whose
will finally declared that Pergamum would become a part of the Roman Empire after his death.
500 years later, around 300 AD, this already great city’s golden age began with the invention of parchment in the city. You will tour the remains of the city’s most famous landmark, a library that contained 200,000 volumes and put Pergamum on a par with Alexandria as a cultural center of
the Roman Empire.
As you walk around the acropolis, located atop a steep hill with a spectacular view, you will get the impression that the city was built to be an inaccessible fortress. And it was. Continue on, admiring
the celebrated library, a steep and impressively dignified theater, temples of Trajan and Dionysus, the monumental altar of Zeus, the sanctuary of Demeter, a gymnasium on three terraces, and the Agora.
Your next stop will be the Asclepion, named after the god of health, which is reached via a sacred
road lined with still more monuments and architectural fragments from antiquity. The Asclepion
added to the city’s reputation as a center of learning and science, and contained a rehabilitation
center, an Ionic portico, sacred spring, latrines, and a “psychotherapy tunnel”.
At the conclusion of your visit, re-board your coach for the 45-minute drive back to the pier.