The Acropolis in Bergama

That’s right, Turkey has it’s own Acropolis! Why not? Acropolisses (Acropoli?) for everybody! The Bergama (or Pergamon) version is just as impressive as the Athenian one, but with waaayyy less people wandering around shooting selfies.

The Turkish Acropolis is in the town of Bergama, not far from the Aegean coast. Bergama’s pretty small, and the food options were pretty dismal at first until our hotelier at the Odyssey Guest House told us about the wonderful Çığırtma Evi. The ladies were hand-rolling Yaprak Sarma (rice wrapped in grapevine leaves) at one of the tables when we walked in.

Bergama Acropolis

There’s a cable car up the side (for the lazy, says we who walked) and a parking lot for those (lazy) who want to drive up.

Lazy!
Enter the lazybones’.

There are suggested routes through the site which are marked with big blue dots or have wooden boardwalks. You’re also free to roam around as you please, which is our preferred mode of travel. It’s in roaming around that we find the quiet spots to sit and the best people watching.

Wild kids
Watch out for the feral children skulking about the place.

The highlight of the place for us was the views. Because it’s on a mountaintop, you get different views depending on which part of the ruins you explore. Behind the mountain is a reservoir and remnants of the ancient aqueduct that served the city on the peak.

Bergama reservoir
Apparently there are other ruins at the bottom of the reservoir.
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The central feature of the ruins is the Temple of Zeus. The German fellow who oversaw the restoration absconded with most of it. Apparently there is a wonderful museum exhibit in Berlin featuring the main altar and restored friezes. What’s left in Bergama is still very impressive though.

Temple of Zeus
What’s left of it.

The other incredible feature that is still more or less intact is the theatre. This overlooks the current town of Bergama and is steep enough to give you vertigo. We tried to run down the steps with the kids and ended up reduced to a shuffle to avoid a family catastrophe.

Don't fall down the stairs!
Here we are pretending to watch a play.

Acropolis Slideshow

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The Best Part

The best part of our whole stay in Bergama, which was great from start to finish, had nothing to do with ruins.

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One day we were wandering around in the back streets and we came to a road block. Fortunately we were able to talk, and jump, our way through it.

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Troy and TWO Giant Horses

Troy is not just about the giant horse, but it’s the first and last thing you see when you visit. There’s also another giant horse in nearby Canakkale, where many visitors stay. That’s the one from the movie, and it has even more impressive shoulders than Brad Pitt.

Just after the entrance and obligatory gift/tea shop there’s a guy dressed as (kind of) a Trojan warrior. He looked a little dozy/maybe drunk when we first arrived. He quickly perked up at the first busload of Chinese tourists and charmed the pants off them.

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His gig was dressing people up and taking their pictures in front of the local big Giant Horse. It’s a little lower budget than the movie one, but still impressive.

Troy Big Horse
Viewing cabin on top (probably not a feature of the original Giant Horse) … Closed for repairs. 🙁

After the Giant Horse, the ruins might be a little underwhelming. Much of the site has been excavated, but the place is so darn old that it’s a bit of a mess. There are structures credited to approximately 8 cities built one on top of the other over the centuries.

The highlight for us was finding a dead end in the wooden walkway that takes you over the ruins. The dead end meant that guides were not shepherding busloads of Asian tourists through that part. We sat and threw pine-cones into the archaeological dig for almost an hour. Freedom!

You can see our dead end in the top left of the picture.

The site is big enough to find quiet corners out of the way to contemplate the history of the place. The site is not so big that you have to hustle to see it all. It is just right.

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It is definitely not the most impressive ruins in Turkey by a long shot, but it makes a mellow day out from Canakkale. Most people could do it in a short morning. Of course, it took us all day.