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Bergama, lying on the northern-west of the Aegean Region, is 107 km away from the city center of Izmir and 30 km away from the sea shore.
Bergama represents many archaeological remains dating back to Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman periods as well as prehistory. After the Persian and Lydian reign, the city came under the sway of Alexander the Great in 333 B.C. and became one of the outstanding trading and cultural centers of the Hellenistic period since 283 B.C. During the rule of Eumenes II (197-159 B.C) Pergamon acropolis was adorned with its finest buildings whereas the city became the one of the most important centers of culture, architecture and sculpture in the Hellenistic world. Pergamon continued to be an important center in Roman times. It was the center of diocese during Byzantine times. Stones from previous Hellenistic and Roman buildings as well as ancient statuary were used as building materials.
The most remarkable monuments of the site is undoubtedly the Asklepion located on the southern-west of the Bergama; Acropol or "upper city" situated on a hill of 300 m., a middle city or "Roman city", Temple of Serapis (Red Courtyard) dated back to the 2nd A.D and the historic fabric with an organic form including Turkish-Islamic arts like mosques, madrasas, hans, bazaars and baths with many traditional houses, as well.
Acropolis is the site where the settlement first began in Pergamon. The main structures located in Acropolis are Temple of Athena, Temple of Dionysos, Temple of Agora, Zeus Altar, theatre for 10000 audiences, library, heroon, palaces, arsenals, upper agora, stoas, propylon and remains of some Hellenistic houses.
Asklepion, which was the healing center of the ancient time, signifies the term of the Place of Asklepios, who is one of Apollon's sons and is the God of healing and medicine and. According to the ancient historian Pausanias, Pergamum Asklepion was built in the first half of the 4th B.C. in a place called Ayvazali today and operated until the 4th A.D. It was also stated by the ancient historians that the healing cult was brought to Pergamum in the mid of 5th B.C. by the Arkhias, who is the son of Aristakhminos from Pergamum.
Suggestion therapy, hydrotherapy and physical therapy, different methods of which are still used today, were applied to the patients in Asklepion. The treatments of psychotherapy, massage, herbal remedies, mud and bathing treatments, the interpretation of dreams, the drinking of sacred water, hunger and thirst cures are those other methods used. It is also known that surgery was applied when needed.
There exist three small temples, resting rooms, sacred spring and pools of the Hellenistic period in the southern part of the Asklepion. These structures are rehabilitated, repaired and used in its original function in the Roman time, as well. Besides, theatre for 3500 audiences, which is the first Roman theatre in Anatolia with three-story stage, was built in the west edge of the northern gallery, and lathyrines were added to northern edge of the west gallery. It was also built a tunnel under the ground near sacred spring to protect patients from outside weather conditions. Sacred Site of Asklepion was a very significant medical center of its time also with its court with galleries, library, cult hall belonging to Emperor Hadrianus, and circular planned Temple of Asklepios, which was built in A.D.150 as an example of Pantheon in Rome. Sacred site of Asklepion maintained its importance until the Christianity.
Bergama is one of the most spectacular multi-layered sites with its high valued monumental arts. It can be defined as competitive, challenging and dynamic environment. It served as a healing and cult center in Hellenistic time.
Criterion (i): Zeus altar, one of the most significant component of the city, is admitted to be one of the biggest and the best applied "high relief" in world art history.
Criterion (ii): The style used in the work of Zeus altar also influenced later masterpieces of sculpture like Ara Pacis of Agustus in Rome and Laokoon Group by its baroque style and pathetic expressions of the figures.
Criterion (iii): Pergamon Asklepion was one of the most important healing centers of the Hellenistic period having its unique characteristics like three-storey theatre, round planned temples and library. The snake symbol for health is thought to be used firstly in Pergamon. "Parchment" is also another remarkable instrument invented in Pergamon after the papyrus embargo of Egypt.
Criterion (iv): The figures on Zeus altar are the best examples of the Hellenistic sculpture with their "pathetic expressions". The theatre in Acropolis of Pergamon has the steepest auditorium in the world. The technique of making holes to be used here to fix the portable wooden stage was firstly used in Pergamon. The Asklepion theatre was also the first Roman theatre with three-story stage in Anatolia. The library in Acropolis was the first one built in Asia.
Ancient Pergamon City was firstly registered as an archaeological site with the decision of Superior Council of Immovable Antiquities and Monuments dated 9 th July 1976 numbered 77. Afterwards many decisions were taken by the Superior Council and the related Conservation Councils.
The last decision which integrates the borders of 1st degree, 2nd degree, 3rd degree archaeological sites and historic + 3rd degree archaeological site was taken by related Conservation Council in 2007. Furthermore, approximately 450 historic buildings and monuments were registered as cultural assets with the decision of related Councils.
Archaeological excavations held for about 130 years unearthened many remains from different periods, but fragments of many significant monuments were displaced from their original location causing a negative impact on their integrity.
It's known that approximately there were two hundred Asklepions in ancient times, however when we compare the well known asklepions like Kos, Pelephones, Corinth, Pergamon Asklepion is one of the biggest and well preserved one. The round planned temples and library don't exist in other ones. The existence of this library suggests that this place may be an academic institution which separates it from the other asklepions as well.