The ancient city of Pergamon, just outside modern Bergama, is not necessarily on the “tourist trail” in Turkey, so I made a special point to visit. From the garden behind my guesthouse, I shared a bottle of Raki with the other travelers and watched the fading sunset and twilight dance across the ancient ruins on the mountain above us. My mind wandered back and forth between imagining this once magnificent capitol city and contemplating the quiet, emptied ruins present today. That ancient Pergamon exists at all today in Bergama, Turkey is a wonder and a testament to its phenomenal and multi-layered history.
Posts tagged ‘ruins’
In the heart of ancient Corinth, between the extensive market and the main road to the sea, there was an Imperial Roman monument that was designed to be unforgettable. The Prisoner’s Facade was constructed by Septimius Severus (145-211 CE) to celebrate his victory over the Parthians. The elaborate two-story tapestry in marble depicted vanquished, captured soldiers and the victorious Roman army. Perhaps the boldest element of the prisoner facade were four sculptural columns that each included a statue of a docile, captured youth in oriental costumes.
This exotic sculpture and fantastic architecture was typical of Corinth – the Roman capital of the Greek province. Lively, international, and wealthy, ancient Corinth figures into Greek, Roman, and early Christian history. While today there are only neglected embers of its former glory, you can still picture the excitement of ancient Corinth in the expansive but slumbering ruins and in the unique museum pieces like this beautiful column of a captured man.
I wrote recently about the old historic core of Acre (or Akko), Israel which is packed with Crusader era ruins. Since Acre is mostly a day-tripper’s destination, we stayed a night in the only accommodations in the old city – a youth hostel. Apparently you can’t dig anywhere in the Acre without discovering an archaeological site! I was surprised to find that our youth hostel had its own set of ruins on site and did an excellent job exhibiting them as natural elements of the hostel premise.
Every day in Ireland seemed to bring another beautiful ruin. Each one a massive stone structure clearly whittled down by time and the encroaching flora. King Henry VIII’s anti-Catholic purge of Ireland left hundreds of Cathedrals and monasteries abandoned to decay. Today they remain inviting and evocative structures to explore and enjoy. Ardfert Cathedral and Abbey is one such peaceful place. Like many of the ruins in Ireland, we had the whole site to ourselves and had an excellent impromptu picnic there.
Even without the advantage of modern MRI’s and antibiotics, the Ancient Greeks understood something about health. Just outside many of the largest ruins from the ancient world, you will find a Sanctuary to Asclepius, God of Health. Taking in sick locals and travelers alike, most of these centers included steam-rooms, baths, theaters and doctors ready to interpret the patient’s dreams. Seemingly the best cures resulted from a little relaxation and spa time. And since near death patients were secreted out of the facility, it appeared the no one died at the Ascelpium under the care of the priests.