Pergamum (Pergamon) in Mysia




The Theatre  

Pergamon (Latin: Pergamum) is an ancient city about 100 km north of Izmir. The 330 m high castle hill above today's Bergama has been inhabited since the 6th century B.C., but it was not until the Hellenistic era that Pergamon flourished into an ancient cosmopolitan city.


Holy Place of Athena  

Based on finds of fragments of Western Eastern Greek and Corinthian imported pottery from the late 8th century B.C., a settlement can already be proven in archaic times. Pergamon is first mentioned in literature in 400/399 BC.
Traces of the pre-Hellenistic settlement of the 4th century B.C. are rare, since in the following times the area was repeatedly profoundly redesigned and in the course of extensive terraces older buildings were mostly completely demolished.
The temple of Athena can be traced back to the 4th century B.C., but altar foundations and walls from the 4th century B.C. can also be found in the Demeter Shrine.


The Dyonisos temple at the end of the theatre terrace  

With Alexander the Great this area and with it Pergamum of Persian domination was liberated. At the time of the Diadoches, Pergamon, like the rest of Mysia, belonged to the dominion of Lysimachos. He used Philetairos as guardian of the castle, in which a large part of the Lysimacho's spoils were deposited with 9,000 talents. With this treasure Philetairos succeeded after the death of Lysimacho in 281 B.C. to become independent and to found his own dynasty with the Attalids.


The ruins of the royal palaces  



The Attalids ruled Pergamum from 281 to 133 BC. The city became the centre of the Pergamese Empire. Eumenes I did not yet take the royal title. This was only carried out by his successor Attalos I. Only now there was a parchment empire independent from all sides, which reached the peak of its power and expansion in 188 BC.




The foundation of the Zeus Altar. (The world-famous Pergamon Altar, now in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin)


Under the brothers Eumenes II and Attalos II, Pergamon experienced its heyday, which was reflected in the monumental extension of the city. The aim was to create a second Athens, an Athens of artistic and cultural activity, as it prevailed in Pericles' time and dominated large parts of Greek artistic creation.
The two brothers testified most strongly to an Attalid trait that was rare in this form among the Hellenistic dynasties: a marked sense of family, which knew neither competition nor intrigue. Eumenes II and his brother Attalos II, who was nicknamed Philadelphos, the brother-lover, were even considered the embodiments of the legendary brother couple Kleobis and Biton.





Remains of the mighty amphitheatre of Pergamon


Attalos III of Pergamon, who died without descendants in 133 BC, inherited Pergamon to the Romans. From the kingdom of Pergamon the Roman province of Asia emerged in 129 BC, the city itself was declared free.

Under Augustus the first imperial cult in the province of Asia was established in Pergamon. Pliny the Elder was considered the most important city in the province, and the local aristocracy continued to produce outstanding men.


The Trajaneum  

Under Trajan and his successors followed a comprehensive redevelopment and transformation, the construction of a Roman "new town" at the foot of the Acropolis, and as the first city in the province Pergamon received a second neo-corie of Trajan in 113/114 A.D. Hadrian raised the city to the rank of a metropolis in 123 A.D., thereby distinguishing it from its rivals Ephesus and Smyrna.
In the middle of the 2nd century Pergamon was the largest city in the province after these two and had about 200,000 inhabitants. Caracalla gave the city a third neo-corie, but the decline had already begun. Among the soldiers' emperors, the economic power of Pergamon finally disappeared, which increasingly lost its importance and was threatened by the invasions of the Goths.

The Red Hall  

The Red Hall (Turkish Kızıl Avlu) is also called Red Basilica, Serapist temple or temple of the Egyptian gods. It is the ruin of a 60 × 26 meter brick building over 20 meters high, flanked by two towers and with a courtyard in front of it. It is located on the territory of the ancient lower town of Pergamon, today's Bergama. The site of the associated complex measures approximately 100 × 265 meters, making it one of the largest Roman complexes in Asia Minor.
The buildings were built in Roman times, probably under Emperor Hadrian, as temples for Egyptian gods, probably Isis and Serapis, presumably in connection with the Asia Minor gods mother Kybele. It is also considered as a place of emperor worship. In Byzantine times, a three-nave basilica dedicated to the apostles John or Paul was built into the hall.
Below the forecourt, the Selinus, the city river of Pergamon, flows in two tunnels almost 200 metres long. This bridge of Pergamon is the longest known of its kind in ancient times. Below the buildings is a complex system of underground spaces and corridors whose function is controversial. Various water basins and pipes were probably connected with ceremonial acts in the worship of the Egyptian gods.


IIn Byzantine times, the settlement retreated to the castle hill, which was protected by a 6-metre thick wall built from Spolien. Pergamon, seat of one of the seven oldest main churches of Asia Minor, was founded in 716 by the Arabs under Maslama b. Abd-al-Malik conquered, large parts of the population destroyed. After the Arabs had given up their attempt to conquer Constantinople (717-718), the city was rebuilt and fortified.

Under Leo III Pergamon belonged to the topic Thracesion, since Leo VI. to the topic Samos. Although it suffered during the Seljuk advance to Western Anatolia after the Battle of Manzikert, it remained a prosperous city under the Comnene Byzantine dynasty. Under Isaac Angelos the place became an archbishopric after being a suffragan bishopric of Ephesus.
After the conquest of Constantinople in 1204 in the Fourth Crusade, Pergamum became part of the empire of Nikaia.


When the later emperor Theodoros II Laskaris visited Pergamon around 1250, the house of Galens was still shown to him, but he saw the theatres of the city destroyed, and apart from the walls, to which he paid some attention, only the vaults of the river Selinus were worth mentioning to him.
At that time, the magnificent buildings of the Attalids and the Romans were only looted ruins. In 1345 Pergamon finally became part of the Ottoman Empire.

Photos: @chim    
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Source: Wikipedia and others