Dominating the summit of a hill almost 300m (984 ft.) high, the Acropolis provides a humbling view of the surrounding plains, aqueducts, and reservoir below. The remains of this once-great empire are no less impressive, despite the fact that most artifacts are now on exhibit at the Pergamum Museum in Berlin. Here it's still possible to ramble around the Upper and Lower cities, amid the palaces, public and private buildings, and temples too large to cart away. Although only the foundation remains, the Temple of Athena was probably constructed, using the Acropolis of Athens as a model, in the 3rd century B.C., in the earliest days of the Pergamene kingdom. Today you can see the architrave, along with fragments of columns, in the Berlin Museum.
Eumenis II's construction of the great library rivaled the one at Alexandria, provoking the Egyptians into an embargo of papyrus. Lacking such a basic essential, the people of Pergamum were forced to come up with an alternative, and parchment was invented. Ironically, when Pergamum came under Roman rule, Marc Antony gifted the entire 200,000-volume collection to Cleopatra, shipping the contents of the rival library back to Alexandria, where, tragically, the entire collection was destroyed in a fire. A 3m (9 3/4-ft.) statue of the goddess Athena, discovered in the area of the reading room, is now housed in the Berlin Museum.
Near the temple of Athena are the remnants of the Palaces of the Pergamene Kings. The smaller, northern building is believed to have been that of Attalus while the larger palace most likely belonged to Eumenes II. Mosaics discovered in the internal courtyards of the palaces are now in the Berlin Museum.
With the Romanization of Pergamum, many of the Hellenic foundations were simply adapted to suit the arriving Roman emperors and administrators. The Temple of Trajan is one example, and because of removal or looting, the temple remains dated to Hellenistic times.
The remarkable theater, built into the hillside and split into three sections of tiers, was composed of 80 extraordinary levels that seated up to 10,000 people. The panorama is awe-inspiring -- a fact not overlooked by Eumenes II, who had a 240m-long (787-ft.) stoa (covered arcade) constructed along the upper terrace of the theater. At the northern end of the terrace promenade was the Temple of Dionysus, which, along with the altar, is in a fairly good state of preservation. The Temple of Dionysus was restored by Caracalla after a fire gutted the interior.
The largest building on the Acropolis is the Altar of Zeus, built during the reign of Eumenes II. Fragments of the altar were recycled in the construction of the Byzantine fortification walls, but rediscovered by Carl Humann in 1871 and later reconstructed in the Berlin Museum. The reliefs (also in Berlin) depicted the mythological battle between the giants and the gods -- an analogy to the Pergamene victory of the Galatians.
The Agora and Agora Temple lie to the south of the Altar of Zeus. As you head down the hill to the south, you arrive at the Lower City, where, up until a brush fire cleared out the overgrowth, not much more than crumbling foundations remained. Ambitious types and those heading down to town on foot should keep an eye out for what's left of the Sanctuaries of Hera and of Demeter, the Temple of Asklepios, several gymnasiums, a House attributed to Attalos, and a Lower Agora.