Perge – an ancient city 15-20 km. from Antalya. Its foundation dates back to the 7th century. BC. Perge was located on the banks of the Kestros River (now Aksu), which was then navigable – through it the city had access to the sea. The heyday of Perge fell on the Roman period (I-III centuries – then the number of inhabitants reached 100-150 thousand people), and then the river began to shallow and the city fell into decay (since then, Aksu has changed its course altogether – now it is in 10 km east of Perge).
Active excavations, which began in the middle of the 20th century, uncovered a strikingly well-preserved city, with a clear division into streets and many buildings. The most valuable, of course, was taken away to keep it from exposure to open air. Now artifacts from Perge make up the majority of the Antalya Museum’s exposition. But what remains is very interesting. First of all, the fact that here you can see not just separate ruins, but the whole city.
How to get to Perge
In Perge, organized excursions are taken from almost any tourist place on the Anatolian coast of Turkey, but it is quite possible to get there on your own, by public transport.
From Antalya to Perge, you can take a regular bus to the city of Aksu, and there you have to walk a little more than a kilometer to them.
The Antalya bus station has two terminals – local and intercity, of course, intercity is needed. It is problematic to understand the logic of local transport on your own, it is better to immediately ask someone which bus you need, and then tell the driver “Perge”, he will stop where required.
Antalya Intercity Bus Station Terminal
Attractions of Perge
Perge is divided into four parts by two main streets, framed by columns, each about half a kilometer long. The wider one (20 m.), in fact, was a road leading through the city. The road was divided into two halves by a stone canal filled with water. Along the edges were shops of artisans and merchants.
The triumphal arch with a fountain inside was built for no known reason. It is now called the Arch of Demetrius Appolonios, after the second director of the excavations.
Triumphal arch with fountain
The main road ends with the Nymphaeum – a temple dedicated to the nymphs of water, which was usually built near some source. There were several Nymphaeums in Perge, this one is dedicated to the nymphs of Kestros river and the water was supplied to it directly from the river, and then merged into the city canal.
Nymphaeum of Kestros
The second street (Western) is narrower – 8 m. Public buildings were located here.
In one of the rooms, a mosaic floor with scenes from the Trojan War has been preserved. It is assumed that at first this house was used for religious purposes (for sacrifices), and then, in Byzantine times, it became either a shop or a place to relax (as it is written in the annotation – a health center :).
Next are the remains of the Palestra or Gymnasium (a private gymnastic school). Two entrances are visible in the preserved walls.
The western street also ends with Nympheon, bearing the name of the emperor Caracalla, since the building was built during his reign. In this case, it is a large, richly decorated fountain, which was part of the public baths and was located near the West Gate. Around the pool of the Nymphaeum were statues of the gods and, between them, a statue of Caracalla. 🙂 All of them are now in the Antalya Museum.
Nympheon of Caracalla
Streets of Perge
Streets of Perge
Streets of Perge
Streets of Perge
Hadrian’s Arch is located at the beginning of Main Street. It consisted of three arches, decorated with statues of gods and members of the emperor’s family. The gates were built at the expense of a wealthy towns woman.
Arch of Hadrian
Nearby was the main city square – Agora. In size, this is the second surviving agora in Turkey, its size is 51×51 m. The area was surrounded by covered galleries with columns, in the middle of each gallery there was a passage. In the galleries there were shops of merchants and craft workshops. In the center of the agora, the remains of a temple are visible.
Both the Arch of Hadrian and the Agora are located near the city gates. Here were also the Propylaea – the main entrance, which was a marble platform between rows of columns.
Propylaea ran along the eastern facade of the Southern baths, which were the largest in Perge.
To the east of the Southern Baths is another Nympheon, named after Septimius Severus, on the occasion of the emperor’s visit to Perge. Why the Nympheons were built near the thermae is understandable – it’s all the same to supply water. This Nympheon, judging by the picture, looked more like a solid building with arches and a massive facade than a frivolous fountain.
Nympheon of Septimius Severus
Only one entrance to Perge (out of three) has been preserved, but there were two gates. Greek (Hellenic) gates were two round towers with a passage between them. This is the oldest surviving city building – the gate dates back to the third century BC.
Roman gates appeared five centuries later. Probably, the capacity of the Hellenic Gates was no longer enough by that time, so the new gates are almost 2.5 times wider than the old ones (24 m instead of 10 m). Accordingly, new walls appeared.
Naturally, there were several temples in Perge, but little remains of them. The so-called South Basilica is already a Christian church (Byzantine – VI century). Part of the apse and the wall adjacent to it have been preserved. In general, Christianity penetrated into Perge quite early, in particular, there is information about a two-time visit to the city by St. Paul.
The Perge stadium, due to its large size (234×34 m.), was located outside the city walls. Auxiliary services were located in rooms with arched structures, and spectators, who could fit about 12 thousand, were located on 11 rows of seats.
Another building located outside the city is the theater. Moreover, it is quite far from the gate, about 200 m, on the other side of the modern road. You just won’t be able to enter it – you need a ticket that gives you the right to inspect the whole of Perge, which is sold at the main entrance to the city.
The Perge Theater was built according to the Greek canons, then remodeled according to the Roman rules. Like all ancient theaters, it consists of three parts – a stage, a place for an orchestra and a place for spectators (about 12 thousand).
See photos of exhibits from Perge in the Antalya Museum.