Asclepion of Pergamum, Bergama

The Asclepion (Asklepieion) of Pergamum was perhaps the world’s most famous ancient medical center, and is the second-most important site in Bergama.

The Asclepion is west of the city center, 1.6 km (one mile) north of the main street, reached by a road on the left (north) 6 km (3.73 miles) east of the Otogar (bus terminal) and one km (6/10 mile) west of the Bergama Museum and city center (map).

The road to the Asclepion passes through a large Turkish army base. Do not linger on the road, or take photos, and be off the road by dusk.

Founded by a man named Archias, the Asclepion of Pergamum became famous under Galen (131-210 AD), a local physician who pursued his medical studies in Greece and Alexandria (Egypt) before settling here as doctor to Pergamum’s gladiators.

Sacred Pool Frog, Asclepion, Pergamum, Turkey
Frog in a sacred pool,
Asclepion, Pergamum.

From the parking lot and entrance (TL15), where there are shops and snack-and-drink stands, you walk along a monumental marble street bordered bhttps://turkeytravelplanner.com/details/Money/yeni_lira.htmly columns. This was once an active market street, with shops lining both sides of the street. The acropolis of Pergamum is clearly visible on its hilltop to the east.

Coming into the main precinct of the Asclepion, notice the large marble column fragment bearing the Asclepion’s symbol: two snakes facing each other across a wheel. As snakes shed their skins are are “reborn,” so patients at the Asclepion were to shed their illnesses and regain health.

You first notice the large theater of the Asclepion, in front of which are several stone-framed sacred pools, filled with water (and frogs) in spring, though perhaps dry in summer and autumn.

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