Three years ago, we saw the magnificent Pergamon Altar in Berlin. It was an altar dedicated to Zeus. At that time, we learned that it was removed from the Pergamon acropolis and rebuilt in Berlin. It was made of white marble and almost completely faultless. It was so stunning that the image remained vivid in my mind, years after we have seen it.
Hence when we came to the real Pergamon, to the south east of Troy, we were very eager to see the foundation, from which the altar was removed. Somehow, it was difficult to merge the image of the pristine white altar with the ruins at its foundations. Because the altar was rectangular, I was half expecting to see a rectangular patch of land to which my image of the altar would fit. But it did not turn out the case. One thing I learned on this trip is that Turkey often rely on the help of foreign archeologists and governments to excavate and preserve its numerous ruins.
Another major building was the Temple of Athena. Judging from the size of the foundations, and what is left of the columns surrounding the temple, it must have been quite a sight. Unfortunately, All we could see were broken pieces lying around.
The Temple of Trajan is in better shape. Trajan was a Roman Emperor, not a god. Like many other emperors, he liked to think of himself as a god. Hence he ordered this temple to be built for himself. In terms of elevation, Athena’s Temple was higher than Zeus’ Altar. But Trajan built his Temple at the highest point on the acropolis. That’s how much he thought of himself.
There is a great theatre on the slope immediately below Athena’s Temple. The stage has fallen down, with pieces strewn all over the slope. But the seats are largely intact. I would have loved to explore it more. But we didn’t have enough time.
Like many other sites in Turkey, Pergamon was built by the Greeks, taken over by the Romans, ruled by the Byzantines, conquered by the Persians, and eventually overrun by the Ottoman Turks.
Pergamon is also one of the 7 churches mentioned in the Book of Revelations. It was mentioned as a dwelling place of Satan. Some said it was a reference of the Altar dedicated to Zeus.