The site of Sardis (modern Sart) is a 1-1.5 hour journey from Dikili along the Izmir-Ankara highway.
Sardis was one of the legendary cities of Asia Minor. In the seventh century B.C., Sardis was the
capital of the kingdom of Lydia. Gold was found in the river near Sardis and the kings who lived there
were renowned for their wealth. The riches are evident in the detailed stonework and use of marble
throughout the relics scattered about the grounds. The fabled "royal road" connected Sardis with the
Persian cities to the east. In New Testament times, Sardis was part of the Roman province of Asia.
The atmospheric ruins of bath-gymnasium complex, synagogue, and Temple of Artemis are a
wonder to explore.
Following the exploration of Sardis, depart for lunch in the town of Salihli.
After lunch it is just over an hour to reach Pergamum (modern Bergama,) a site settled by one
civilization after another since ancient times. Around 300 AD, this already great city’s golden age
began with the invention of parchment. Explore 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 get the
impression that the city was built to be an inaccessible fortress, and it was. Admire 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 within Pergamum is the Asclepion, named after the god of health. This ancient health
center 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 short drive back to the pier.