Culture & Travel3 October 2023
Today, we find ourselves in a truly special place – the awe-inspiring ancient ruins of the North Aegean region, the city center, and the breathtaking natural beauty of the North Aegean region leave a lasting impression on all who visit. If you're wondering where this place is, the answer is none other than Bergama.
This extraordinary city is home to remarkable attractions such as the Pergamon Ancient City, Athena and Asclepion Temples, Hacı Hekim Bath, Red Courtyard, and Bergama Great Mosque. It's also known for its unique culinary offerings. The renowned Bergama Tulum Cheese graces the tables throughout the North Aegean region.
But the Bergama of today, like the ancient Pergamon, is not confined to these wonders. This place is also a haven for nature enthusiasts, thanks to its proximity to the serene foothills of the Ida Mountains, offering excellent opportunities for nature walks and outdoor activities. Galenos of Rome, one of the world's greatest physicians, grew up in the Asclepion here. The Asclepion, situated on Geyikli Dağ, provided healing for nine centuries. Of course, there's so much more to this vibrant and fertile settlement than can be captured in these pages, but we'll do our best to convey the grandeur of Pergamon as memorably as possible. Without further ado, let's dive into our content. We hope you enjoy the read.
Historic, Elegant, Tranquil
Bergama's historic city center captivates visitors with its cobblestone streets, rich history, and charming ambiance. As you meander through its narrow lanes, you'll be transported back in time, encountering traces of the Ottoman and Roman eras at every turn. The mounds of Yığma Tepe and Maltepe, the remains of Viran Kapı, and the Harap Mosque offer a glimpse into the city's storied past. The Great Mosque of Bergama, located on the old Kozak Street, stands as one of Bergama's most iconic landmarks. Constructed in the late 14th century, another mosque faces this cultural treasure. The Tabaklar Bath, thought to have been commissioned by Yıldırım Bayezid, is a rare gem of Bergama. With its stone houses, windows adorned with vibrant flowers, and historical character, Bergama's city center resembles an open-air museum. While strolling around, strike up conversations with local shopkeepers, savor traditional delicacies, and get lost amid ancient ruins. Bergama's city center delivers an unforgettable experience with its welcoming locals and unique ambiance. Once you set foot here, you'll find yourself retracing the footsteps of those who once inhabited these cobblestone streets.
Exploring Ancient Treasures
We find ourselves in the heart of Pergamon, a city that has been transformed into a wonder through the healing magic infused into its nature and its people by the Asclepion. The legacy of the Asclepion, rebuilt under the command of the Roman Emperor Hadrian, one of the most influential rulers of his era, still captivates its visitors. Originally constructed in the 4th century BC, the Asclepion stood as the foremost element that defined Pergamon in the ancient world. Access to the site was through Via Tecta, a nearly one-kilometer-long road adorned with columns. At the road's end, much like in many ancient cities, a monumental entrance awaits. To the right of this entrance stands a library, and to the left, we find the renowned temple dedicated by Zeus, the father of the gods, to Asclepius. Beyond the grand entrance lies the impressive banquet courtyard. Adding to the grandeur of Pergamon is the colossal theater with a capacity for 3500 spectators. Even information about the treatment methods practiced at the Asclepion, the largest medical center of its time, has endured to this day. Aristedes, a master of oratory from that era, availed himself of Pergamon's blessings and received treatment here, describing his experiences. Patients in the sleeping chambers were enveloped in the enchantment of Pergamon, as they listened to the soothing sound of water, experienced mud therapy, healing waters, cupping, hunger and satiety treatments, as well as therapeutic music. Another brilliant figure to emerge from Pergamon was the renowned physician Galenos, who cared for gladiators here. In essence, the ancient city of Pergamon not only stands as an archaeological site but also serves as a living testament to humanity's cultural heritage.
Pergamon's Pleasant Surprises
Now, let's delve into the delightful surprises that Bergama has in store. Bergama's tulum cheese, crafted from a blend of cow, goat, and sheep's milk sourced from the regions nestled at the foot of the oxygen-rich Kaz Mountains, infuses color and authenticity into every breakfast spread. This cheese is meticulously prepared using top-grade natural shirden yeast and is made available for sale six months after maturation. Beyond Bergama's distinct tulum cheese, we should also take a moment to discuss the eateries that have adorned Bergama for generations and continue to do so. Foremost among them is Yenigün Breakfast Hall, affectionately known as Uncle Eşref by the locals, where he has dedicated 75 years of service. Despite being well over 90 years old, he personally tends to every aspect of the shop, carefully selecting each product. Honey, cream, and milk form a golden trio of delights here. Olives ripened in the Kaz Mountains bring the essence of the North Aegean to the table. For the finest meatballs in Bergama, Altın Kepçe is the place to be. Another enduring establishment in Bergama is Çiçeksever Kebap Salonu. At 80 years old, yet eternally timeless, this establishment may appear modest from the outside, but it conjures up delectable culinary wonders within. Bergama also offers a touch of Italian inspiration. To savor an unparalleled dinner experience, one must venture to Aşağıkırıklar Village, a bit removed from Bergama's center, where a couple, weary of city life, packed up and settled down, opening an Italian restaurant named Casa Regina. It's a glimpse into the culinary diversity of Bergama.