Turkey is blessed with archaeological sites; a few well known ones like Troy and a wealth of other small treasures you stumble upon unexpectedly. Today we were making our way towards Bergama and the famous acropolis of Pergamum when we saw an excavation by the side of the road.
We were amazed to discover that this site, not even marked on the map, had not only all the traces of a large town – shops, homes, streets and a small chapel – but also a still-working bath house. Down a set of rickety stairs a series of rooms opened up, each with a different pool. Cold, warm and hot spring water poured into each bath naturally, just as it had in Roman times. Today only turtles and frogs seem to soak in the waters but we were still able to get a vivid picture of what the atmosphere must have been like so many centuries ago. As we left we were dismayed to read a sign in English, saying the whole site would soon be flooded because of a nearby dam, but when we reached our hotel in Bergama the owner (also a fan of this site) gleefully told us not to worry. Although the dam has been built, there hasn’t been any water in the river for years, so for now at least the site is safe.
Once settled in Bergama, we set off to cycle up to the acropolis, a steady hike up and around the side of a mountain. We got there in the late afternoon and had an hour to explore the site before it closed, which wasn’t really enough. We probably could have spent twice as long wandering around the extensive ruins, including several temples and a huge ampitheatre, all overlooking the modern town of Bergama. The next stage of our journey sees us on the bus again, down to the famous ruin of Efphesus. This gains us a little more time and gets us around some nasty stretches of motorway around Izmir, something we probably could cycle but really prefer not to now that we’ve already had a taste of that coming into Istanbul. Not to fear though, we are getting on our bikes again soon. Our plan at the moment is to take a little more than a week to cycle inland from Efphesus, via some beautiful natural rock formations, and then down to the coast again.
17th October 2007 at 2:51 pm #
What we spent: 50 YTL hotel, 25 YTL groceries, 20 YTL entrance fee
Road notes: The route from Ivrindi to Bergama is beautiful and large parts of the last 40km or so are downhill. There are so many places to wild camp, you will be spoiled for choice, although no shops at all that we saw in the last 60km. Water fountains abound by the side of the road. Definitely stop at the site about 20km outside of Bergama, it is worth the time. In Bergama we stayed at Boblinger Pension, as recommended in the Lonely Planet book. It was a friendly spot to stay with a good breakfast but a few new pensions also seem to have sprung up in Bergama offering free wireless and gardens so they may be good alternatives as well. There is camping for about 20YTL on the edge of town.