This is believed to have been one of the world's first full-service health clinics. The name is a reference to Asklepios, god of medicine and recovery, whose snake and staff are now the symbol of modern medicine. In the center's heyday in the 2nd century AD, patients were prescribed such treatments as fasting, colonic irrigation, and running barefoot in cold weather. Roman emperors Hadrian, Marcus Aurelius, and Caracalla sought treatments at the Asklepion, and Galen, the physician and philosopher who was more or less a resident medic for the Roman Empire's star gladiators, was born in Pergamum and trained here.
The entrance to the complex is at the column-lined Sacred Way, once the main street connecting the Asklepion to Pergamum's Acropolis. Follow it for about a city block into a small square and through what was once the main gate to the temple precinct. Immediately to the right is the library, a branch of the one at the Acropolis. Patients also received therapy
accompanied by music during rites held in the intimate theater, which is now used for performances in the Bergama Arts Festival in early summer. Nearby are pools that were used for mud and sacred water baths, fed by several sacred springs. A subterranean passageway leads down to the cellar of the Temple of Telesphorus, where the devout would pray themselves into a trance and record their dreams upon waking; later, a resident priest would interpret the dreams to determine the nature of the treatment the patient required. If you're lucky enough to visit when there's no one else around, the abandoned ruins here still retain a mysterious aura about them.