Pergamum (Bergama)

The windswept ruins of Pergamum, which surround the modern town of Bergama, are among the most spectacular in Turkey. Pergamum was one of the world’s major powers, though it had only a relatively brief moment of glory, notably under the rule of Eumenes II (197 BC–159 BC), who built the city’s famous library. Of more lasting influence perhaps was the city’s Asklepion, an ancient medical center that had its heyday under the renowned early physician, writer, and philosopher Galen (131 AD–210 AD). By then Pergamum was capital of the Roman province of Asia, which for centuries supplied the empire with great wealth. Bergama has not been heavily influenced by tourism, except perhaps for the carpet shops at the base of the Acropolis road. People still ride tractors, lead donkeys, and drive vegetable trucks through town, and a bus inching along behind a herd of sheep is not an uncommon sight.

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