Bergama: life in the shadow of the Pergamon Acropolis

Its UNESCO World Heritage site often overshadows Bergama, the town just below the Pergamon Acropolis. Travelers in a rush to tick off the boxes on their bucket list wrongly tend to skip it. We hope that this post will change this, and at least a few more people will allow more time to visit not only the Acropolis of Pergamon, but also the Asklepieion, and lovely and authentic Bergama in between those two sites. We’ve mentioned it in our Pergamon post: you need at least two days to visit this area. And trust us, that is the absolute minimum!

Read More About The Acropolis Of Pergamon On Slow Travel Guide Click here to read our comprehensive Pergamon guide, map included

We’ll give you 3 good reasons to visit Bergama, and plenty of photos to whet your appetite. If you’re still not convinced after that, at least we’ll know that we’ve tried.

Click to see Bergama on a map
A Color Explosion At Kale Mahallesi

A Color Explosion At Kale Mahallesi

1. Bergama has a lovely old Kale quarter

Right under the Acropolis lies Bergama’s Kale or Talatpaşa Mahallesi, where old Greek houses are lined up in narrow cobbled streets where children are playing. This part of town is a world on its own, and the colorful houses reflect its vibrant story. Walking up and down Kale Mahallesi’s streets, you’re met with a mishmash of dilapidated houses, restored mansions now boutique hotels, the lively sounds of day to day life, and the sound of silence waiting just around a corner.

Stay In A Boutique Hotel In The Historic Kale Quarter

Stay In A Boutique Hotel In The Historic Kale Quarter

The View From Kale's Schoolyard

The View From Kale’s Schoolyard

Take your time and go for a stroll throughout the entire neighborhood. Pop in at the public library, located in one of the historic buildings, take in the houses’ details restored and unrestored, and stop for some delicious mezze or refreshments at the Akropol restaurant, located in a quiet and lush garden overlooking the town below. This old mansion looks deceivingly modest and small, but it stretches over several floors and features a vaulted basement that used to be a tunnel leading to the Pergamon Acropolis. The restaurant is operated by the Bergama Chamber of Commerce and offers – besides great vistas – good value for money.

Kale Not Only Features Old Greek Houses, It's Also Lush

Kale Not Only Features Old Greek Houses, It’s Also Lush

The Beautiful Building Of The Public Library

The Beautiful Building Of The Public Library

2. Bergama is authentic & full of history

People often ask us where they can find ‘authentic’ Turkish villages and towns. Usually, by authentic, somebody means quaint and picturesque. To us, authentic involves that it is quintessential ‘Turkish’. A place that hasn’t lost its soul to adapting to the tourism industry’s ever-growing demands, a place that actually feels like Turkey. And yes, Turkey has many faces, so any of those or a combination will do. Bergama ticks all those boxes. It’s a melting pot of tradition, structures dating back to antiquity, and modern-day Turkey with buzzing bazaars, workshops, and quirky cafés and shops.

In Bergama, you’ll run into someone with a horse and cart one moment, and you’ll be having tea in an eclectic vintage café next.

This Is Not A Tourist Attraction!

This Is Not A Tourist Attraction!

No Need To Be A 'shop Till You Drop' Kind Of Person To Love Arasta

No Need To Be A ‘shop Till You Drop’ Kind Of Person To Love Arasta

Bergama’s Arasta is at the heart of it all with its tiny shops, restored Bedesten, local eateries, and coffee houses. Pick your favorite place to sample fresh black mulberry juice, a local specialty, or have a classic Turkish coffee or tea. If you love shopping, you can’t afford to miss this place! If you don’t like shopping, you need to visit anyway! The Arasta or historic bazaar is centrally located and a perfect starting place to explore its surrounding streets and quarters.

At The Heart Of Arasta

At The Heart Of Arasta

Beautiful Ulu Camii

Beautiful Ulu Camii

Don’t miss the Ulu Camii built-in 1399, the bridge houses over the Bakırçay River, the old hammams, some of which are expertly restored, the covered bazaar or the Bergama Museum where many of the finds from Pergamon are exhibited. If you’re lucky, you’ll run into the performing musicians at Atmaca Mahallesi, a part of town renowned for its musical performers. And even if you don’t see them, you’ll hear them play sometime during the day from another part of town. Click here to watch a short performance of the clarinet players. From Atmaca, it’s only a short walk to the beautiful Asklepieion of Pergamon.

Read More About The Asklepieion Of Pergamon On Slow Travel Guide Check out the mystical atmosphere of the Asklepieion here
Bridge Houses Over The Bakırçay River With The Library Behind Them

Bridge Houses Over The Bakırçay River With The Library Behind Them

Şadırvan Camii In Bergama

Şadırvan Camii In Bergama

3. Bergama is home to the Bergama carpets

It’s hard to miss them, the colorful shops with stunning handwoven Bergama carpets. Bergama has been the commercial center for the carpets woven in the surrounding villages since ancient times. Here, you’ll find Bergama carpets originating from one of the approximately 70 villages nearby where carpets are woven. Typical Bergama carpets are woven with symmetrical knots and usually use black, red, green, blue, yellow, and pink as their dominant colors. They are made of Anatolian sheep wool, and the yarns are produced traditionally. Bergama carpets often have floral motifs, though you will find examples of geometric shapes and patterns too. Even if you’re not in the market for a carpet, the carpet shops in Bergama are a treasure trove to discover.

If you love carpets, and you’re here during the summer months, check out these carpet fields!

Bergama Is A Treasure Trove For Carpets Lovers

Bergama Is A Treasure Trove For Carpets Lovers

When Stunning Architecture Meets Local Crafstmanship

When Stunning Architecture Meets Local Crafstmanship

Final thoughts on visiting Bergama

Bergama is full of charm and typically Turkish. Its sole purpose shouldn’t be functioning as a transit town between the Pergamon Acropolis and the Asklepieion. Though you should definitely visit these other two sites as well. We want to repeat what we’ve said in our Pergamon guide.

Pergamon and Bergama are a glorious melting pot of remaining and superimposed structures from different cultures and periods, some of which are re-used and integrated into modern life. This is what makes a visit to Pergamon and Bergama special. The town seamlessly unites Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman heritage, embracing Islam, Judaism, Christianity, and Paganism.

Do consider a minimum of two days and visit all of the places below and the town.

You’ll need four different tickets if you want to get a complete picture. Click on the links below for current ticket prices and opening times of the locations.

Bergama is easy to reach by car and well signposted from the E87 highway. If you are relying on public transportation. You have several options, including a regular service from Kınık and Aliağa. Simply enter Bergama Kızılavlu (Serapion Tapınağı) as a destination on this page. The bus will take you to the beautiful Red Basilica as a starting point.

Serenity In A Nutshell

Serenity In A Nutshell

Even The Orange Tree Is Playing Along

Even The Orange Tree Is Playing Along

Click to see places to stay near Bergama on a map
✔️ Have you been to Bergama? Then please head over to our Turkey Trip Planner to leave a review. Alternatively, if you plan on visiting, you can add the town to your bucket list.
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Bergama: Life In The Shadow Of The Pergamon Acropolis
Bergama: Life In The Shadow Of The Pergamon Acropolis
Bergama: Life In The Shadow Of The Pergamon Acropolis
Bergama: Life In The Shadow Of The Pergamon Acropolis
Bergama: Life In The Shadow Of The Pergamon Acropolis

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Never wonder about the weather in Turkey again. The Turkish climate is as diverse as the country with significant differences between the regions.

This page contains the current weather and weather statistics for all regions in Turkey.

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Can you skip the line at Istanbul Airports?

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Our Turkey Trip Planner wad designed to do just that. You'll find all our favorite spots in one place, including scenic road stops.

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Bergama: life in the shadow of the Pergamon Acropolis