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About 250km (155 miles) south of Çanakkale; 103km (64 miles) north of Izmir

The bustling city of Bergama is flanked by an industrial wasteland to the north and a forgettable series of seaside footnotes to the holiday resorts closer to Izmir. But in spite of the economic progress the city has evidently made, still no one has thought to build a decent hotel. This lack of modern accommodations has unfortunately turned Bergama into a stop, look, and leave destination -- ironic given that the main attractions, the Acropolis and Asklepion of Pergamum, are listed among the top 100 historical sites on the Mediterranean. It's also home to one of the seven churches of the Apocalypse. Still, unless you're arriving on one of the hundreds of tour buses arriving daily, it's a hard sell. If you don't mind rudimentary accommodations (the best choices are listed), and a combined admission of 45TL doesn't make you flinch (for the Acropolis, Asklepion, Red Basilica, and the Archaeological Museum), then the modern-day town of Bergama will serve you up a charming, typical Anatolian city with layers of historic roots, including a maze of narrow, Ottoman-era lanes winding their way around lovely (if still a bit dilapidated) stone and wooden houses, notable mosques and bare-bones lokantas reminiscent of the 1940s.

The ancient city of Pergamum (also written as Pergamon) dates back to the 12th century B.C. but saw its first notable era of prosperity under Lydian King Croesus in the 6th century B.C. Pergamum briefly fell under Persian control but was wrestled back into Hellenistic hands in 334 B.C. by Alexander the Great. While Alexander was out conquering other lands, Anatolia was left in the hands of his general, Lysimachus, who had entrusted his war chest to the hands of Philataerus, commander of Pergamum. On Lysimachus's death, Philataerus founded a ruling dynasty with the late general's riches and was succeeded by his nephew, Eumenis I. Eumenis II is credited with bringing the empire to its height, ushering in a period of economic, cultural, and artistic expansion in the 2nd century B.C. When Attalus III, the last of the ruling Attalid dynasty, died, his ambiguous testament was interpreted by Rome as carte blanche for the Romans to come take over. Under the Romans, Pergamum reclaimed a measure of its former greatness, but the town was all but forgotten once the Ottomans took control.

Most of the extraordinary buildings and monuments date to the time of Eumenes II (197-159 B.C.), including the famed library, the terrace of the spectacularly sited hillside theater, the main palace, the Altar of Zeus, and the propylaeum of the Temple of Athena. The ancient city is composed of the Acropolis, whose main function was social and cultural as much as it was sacred; the Lower City, or realm of the lower classes; and the Asklepion, one of the earliest medical and therapeutic centers on record.