Pergamum Acropolis, Asclepium

Trip Start Oct 25, 2007
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Trip End Nov 06, 2007


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Sunday, November 4, 2007

Wakening to fresh air and the sound of the gently pounding surf is much better than any alarm clock. It's still a little hazy and a little early for breakfast, so I have time to shower, dress and explore the area around this 5* resort.

The swimming pool is almost an infinity pool. Beautifully designed.  Past the pool is the path to the Agean Sea. A small elevator can whisk you down to ground level in seconds.

Anne is also a early morning riser and joins me in searching for the water. The tiny beach does not have fine sand, but feels good on the feet. Kayaks are for rent here, and I can imagine a lazy day at this beach after hitting the old town, historic aquaducts, the castle on Pigeon Island, and Tuesday and Friday markets. Yep, I could be happy here for a couple days. A beach with history. What a concept. Anne wades in the sea. Then then it's my turn to return some ashes to the sea.

After breakfast we're back on the bus, now seeing what scenery we missed in the dark. Cotton fields are being harvested by hand. We pass Adaland, a huge waterpark with a Turkish themed twist. Beautiful modern seaside resorts. More historic walled towns sitting high on the mountains.

Three hours and one potty stop later we are approaching Pergamon. More rocks and ruins. I am happy. But to get up to Pergamon by bus or car isn't that easy. Pergamon is on top of a VERY steep mountain, reached by driving up numerous switchbacks.

And our parking space which teethers on the side of a cliff, is opposite the little sourvineer and crafts market.

We're being told that shopping is after the tour so we're moving out. Julie was looking longinly at the wooden Troy horses.
Pergamon, to my lack of knowledge, is one of Turkey's finest archeological sites, and the site of the world's steepest theatre. Pergamon is similar to other city ruins we have visitied. The baths, market areas, Acropolis tomb areas, library and theatre.

What makes this more striking than most is this city was built on top of a mini-mountain. There isn't a flat surface to be found. The town was laid out Sitting at the top of the theatre looking down at the stage, I wonder how you could see clearly without binoculars.

The view from the top is unbelievable. Another mountain is directly across the valley. The town was built on a series of terraces on the mountain.  At the heighest elevation were the palaces, temples and public buildings. Lower on the hillside were shops, houses and temples for the working class. As many as 200,000 citizens inhabited Pergamon (also known as Pergamum).

We walked down from the ruins of the Temple of Athena to the theatre via the very narrow and steep stairway. Anyone with a fear of heights should avoid this area. Eighty rows of stone seating are "carved" into the hillside. It's one of those take your breath away moments. Looking up to the right are the white marble ruins of the Temple of Trajan. The King's Palace is behind, on the outer wall. Looking down are the remains of the Temple of Dionysys. Further over are the remains of the city walls. This is one place you could spend hours or even a day discovering. Paths lead down the moutnain  thru the lower ruins to the Asclepium, which is our next stop, but we don't have the time to walk it. So back on the bus and around those hairpin turns to the Asclepium.

One of those "bits" you learn along the way. Parchment was discovered in Pergamum.
In ancient times the library of Pergamum was the second biggest library after the library of Alexandria in Egypt.

Nice ruins, and would have been happier if Mustafa didn't point out the big white carved marble stone, aka as a caducei. Eich!!! Two snakes intertwined. That wonderful symbol of medicine. He says the snakes represent longevity because they renew themselves by shedding their skin. I'd be happy if all snakes went into a decline and dissapeared.

So we all thought it started with Freud. Nope, not by a long shot. It started in Asclepium. Two thousand years before the birth of Freud. This medical facility, a sanctuary and healing center offered a holistic approach for the mind and body was located in Pergaumum.  Ascelepium was built in the name of the god of healing, Asclepius. Over the entrance gate had been carved "In the name of the gods, death forbidden to enter."

Patients who came from all over the empire were given exercise programs, herbal remedies, drugs, and honey cures. They would drink the water of the sacred spring, took restoring baths or be treated by suggestion. They would walk thru the woods and be calmed by the scent of pine trees. Many patients would have their dreams analized as a part of their treatment.

Galen, who was born in Pergamon, was the second most famous physician in the ancient world after Hippocrates. He dissected pigs, goats and monkeys to demonstrate how the spinal cord controlls our muscles, that arteries carry blood, and the brain controls our voice. His anatomical studies on animals and observations of how the human body functions dominated medical theory and practice for 1400 years.

Underneath parts of the complex is the 262 foot long tunnel, a vaulted subterranean passageway. Patients and physicians would use this tunnel to access different parts of the hospital. A small stream of water flowed under the floor which provided calming sounds for the patients Tweleve ceiling windows provide light inside the tunnel.
A library was on site for both physicians and patients. A small theatre seats 3,500 and can still be used today.

The 2700 foot Colonnaded Road connected the Asclepieum to the city.

I'm wishing with this darn cough, that I could jump in the hot thermal springs, or if they would just rev up those old hot mud baths, I'd be a happy patient here.

Three hours later we are at our hotel Tusan, in Canakkale. We're in the middle of a forest, but with the beach down the hillside. Michele, Elena, Julie and I are on the same floor. This is a first, and it's easier to gather the troops for dinner.. And tonight dinner is served at our table. I am liking this. Now if the drizzle/downpour would just stop.
Since the rooms are in block sections located all over the resort some call it a motel - but I like the area and the quietness. The restaurant in this small hotel has the atmosphere of a 5 star. It's warm and inviting and the food is wonderful. There's an English pub that we didn't make it to downstairs that everyone said we should have.

Not much in the way of a gift shop, but that didn't bother me. I've been looking for a v-neck womens tshirt. Nothing in big graphics. The name of the hotel embroidered on the front in small lettters would have been wonderful, but I haven't seen anything that doesn't say "LOOK AT WHERE I WAS ON VACATION in bright graphics and colors."
So, no tshirt for Kim here either. Julie and I go down to the outside pool area and hear running water. Is that the beach? Yep, we go further down the hillside and decide crossing the road at night in the dark is not a good idea. So we are now really calling it a night
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