Last full day before flying home to Atlanta
09.29.2013 - 09.29.2013
We arise to another gorgeous day on the Turkish coast, and can't believe how fortunate we have been with the weather. Aside from a few overcast days when we were in Istanbul, and rain the morning we flew out of there, it has been picture perfect postcard weather throughout our entire trip. I had heard fall is the perfect time to visit Turkey, but this has me sold.
The fishermen are still out hoping for a catch as we load up our bags into the van, saying good-bye to the Key Hotel and Izmir.
The ruins of the ancient metropolis of Pergamum, located on a hilltop towering above the modern town of Bergama, are about an hour and a half's drive north of Izmir.
That's Pergamum up on the hilltop
(Photo taken from Asklepion, later in the day):
In order to reduce traffic and congestion at the top of the hill, a cable car has been installed to take visitors to the Acropolis. It's a short 5 minute ride, but provide views of Bergama as well as the crumbled city walls that formerly surrounded Pergamum.
A few facts are in order to fill you in on Pergamum's history:
* Pergamum was originally settled by Aeolian Greeks in the 8th century BC.
* It was one of the ancient world's main centers of learning, and its library was second only to Alexandria's.
* Legend has it that Mark Antony gave Cleopatra all 200,000 scrolls in the Pergamum library as a wedding present, and they were added to Alexandria's library collection. No record of the contents of the collection has ever been unearthed.
* Pergamum is credited with being the home and namesake of parchment. Prior to the creation of parchment, manuscripts were transcribed on papyrus, which was produced only in Alexandria. Parchment reduced the Roman Empire’s dependency on Egyptian papyrus and allowed for the increased dissemination of knowledge throughout Europe and Asia.
* Pergamum's decline commenced in the first century when Ephesus became Asia's capital. Earthquakes severely damaged the city in the third century, it was sacked by invading armies, and its decline continued until it was virtually abandoned by the middle ages.
Much of the city remains in ruins and many of the "prize" archeological finds have been carried off to the Pergamum museum in Berlin (German archeologists have managed excavation of the site). But the signage is good, and Evran provides a good sense of what the city would have looked like in its heyday.
Ruins of the Library:
The Temple of Trajan:
Since heights don't bother us, we go down to the hillside 10,000 seat theatre to take in the view from there. Evren points out the ruins of an ancient coliseum in the far distance, just waiting for an archeological team to unearth it and reassemble it. That's the fascinating thing about this country: everywhere you look there are ancient ruins just waiting to be excavated. All it takes is time, money and people.
From Pergamum we drive a short distance to the medical center of the ancient world, Asklepion.
This ancient medical center, which is thought to date back to the 4th century BC, was founded by a local citizen who had been healed by treatments he received at a treatment center in ancient Greece. It really came into prominence during the 2nd century AD when the physician, Galen, set up shop here. Second only to Hippocrates, Galen is recognized as perhaps the greatest early physician and added greatly to knowledge and treatment methods used well into the 16th century.
The center takes its name from Aesculapius, the god of Health and Medicine, whose symbol is intertwined snakes, which remains the symbol of medicine today. Just as the snake sheds its skin and gains new life, healed patients were expected to shed their illnesses and gain new life. The symbol is carved on a column in Asklepion's center.
Treatments at the center included mud baths, ointments, herbal supplements, enemas and the like. Interestingly, dreams were also interpreted by the doctors as a method of treatment. I guess they had a jump on Freud in that respect.
A Roman bazaar occupied a road leading into the center. Here, family members would buy gifts for patients being treated at the center. Oft times, the gift would feature a drawing of the limb or body part that required healing.
Another view of Pergamum from Asklepion
Part of the complex:
An interesting circular treatment center:
A theatre where productions were mounted for the benefit of patients.
In the foreground is a healing fountain.
Feeling in need of the restorative powers of food ourselves, we head off for some lunch.
Lunch, rugs and headed home
After an enjoyable lunch we make one last shopping stop at a women's rug cooperative in Bergama. Nice people and nice rugs, and all for a good purpose. Plan to stop by Desen if you are in the neighborhood.
Sadly, we have reached the end of our travels in Turkey. Evren and Muzo drop us off at the airport in Izmir, and we fly back to Istanbul to catch our AirFrance flight back home. The trip has exceeded all of our expectations and only whetted our appetite for a return trip. Someday...
For further information about our trip, see the additional postings:
Turkey - Closing thoughts and miscellaneous
Turkey - Travel agent and guides
Turkey - Hotels
Thanks for reading!