Perga Archaeological Site


Location: 18 km (11 mi) Northeast of Antalya, Antalya Province Map

Open: 9am- 7:30pm daily


Perge is an ancient city 14 kilometers inland from the southern coast of Turkey and 16 kilometers northeast of Antalya (ancient Attaleia) in Aksu. Along with Side, it was the most important city in Pamphylia. The ruins that are still standing still give a good impression of a city complex from the late Hellenistic-Roman period.



The Perge plain, in which the two rivers Aksu (the ancient Kestros) and Köpruçay flow south to the Mediterranean, is surrounded by high mountains on all three land sides (up to 3070 m, to the east the Taurus Mountains up to 2980 m). In the northeast behind this mountain range, 150 kilometers away, lies the large city of Konya - the ancient Iconium. This landscape between the Lycian peninsula and Cilicia was partly considered part of Pisidia in ancient times, but was also the capital of Pamphylia for a long time.



According to legend, the city was founded by the soothsayer Calchas after the Trojan War. In order to avoid raids from the sea, the city was founded 11 kilometers from the sea coast on the bank of the navigable river Kester (now Aksu) in ancient times.

In the 7th century BC. the city passed to the Lydians, and then in the 6th century BC. e. - to the Persians.

In 333 BC. surrendered to Alexander the Great without a fight. Then the city was under the rule of the Seleucids and Pergamon.

In 262 BC. its most famous native, the mathematician and geometer Apollonius, was born in the city.

In 189 BC. as a result of the War of Antiochus, Perge came under the rule of Rome.

During the Roman period the city reached its greatest prosperity. In the 1st-2nd centuries AD. e. Perge was one of the largest cities in Asia Minor, competing with Side for the title of the main city of Pamphylia.

In the 1st century, the apostles Paul and Barnabas preached in the city.

During the Byzantine era, the Kestra River, the main artery connecting Perge with the coast, silted up, leading to the decline of the city.

In the 7th-8th centuries, Arab raids led to further devastation of the city. By the arrival of the Seljuks in the 11th century, a small village remained from the once rich city, which then completely disappeared.

Excavations on the territory of Perge have been ongoing since 1946, but most of the city is still buried underground. The oldest finds made on the acropolis of Perge date back to the 5th millennium BC. e., and a permanent settlement existed there since the 3rd millennium BC. e. Thus, the city is much older than the legends claim.

In 2009, Perge was included in the tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.



Coming from the coast or Antalya, to the west (left) is the ancient theater of Perge, which held 14,000 spectators and is therefore one of the largest of its kind. Half of the stage building remains in full height; You can still see parts of the earlier furnishings with marble friezes and reliefs, wall paneling and niches with statues. The reliefs show, among other things: the battle of the giants and some centaurs. The top of the 48 rows of seats offer a magnificent panoramic view of the entire ruined city and its surroundings. There was originally a surrounding arcade gallery there.

Between the theater and the city lies a large, well-preserved stadium with 15,000 seats and 50 vaults that support the still well-preserved rows of seats. Some of them served as shops, every third as an entrance.

The rest of the city lies behind impressive fortification walls. They were built in the third century BC - probably under the impression of Alexander's rapid capture of the city. The wide and long colonnades open behind the first oval towers. However, the area up to the slope of a striking table mountain is now partially overgrown with weeds and reeds.

The round temple of Tyche, the goddess of fortune, stands on the large agora. Towards the city there are palace ruins from the imperial period and the large palaestra, which is part of a large gymnasium. This building is the oldest outside the original city walls.

The thermal baths are at the west gate - an aqueduct can also be seen - and behind them is the necropolis. The most important of the sarcophagi and statues are now in the Archaeological Museum of Antalya.

Excavations by Istanbul University have been taking place here since the 1970s, initially under the direction of Arif Müfid Mansel, then by Jale İnan, and today by Halûk Abbasoğlu.


Research on Table Mountain

Since 1988, archaeologists from the University of Istanbul have been cooperating with the University of Giessen on the excavations in Perge.

The strategically located Table Mountain in the north has been called the Acropolis since the work of Karl Graf Lanckoronski (1890), because the city's main street runs directly towards it. The 90 m high and approximately 700 m wide plateau with steep sides was an ideal settlement complex in pre-Hellenistic times. A first survey has been funded since 1995 by a DFG priority program on Asia Minor, which was expanded in 1999 to include topics of acculturation in the Eastern Mediterranean. The excavations soon showed that Table Mountain was inhabited from the Neolithic to the Middle Byzantine era.

In 2001, a sacral center from the classical period was researched on the western edge of the plateau. It was probably dedicated to Artemis Pergai, whose cult - as in Ephesus - shaped art and the economy. Last but not least, this can be seen on some ancient coins.


Perge in Christian times

Christianity was documented in Perge early on. Paul and Barnabas came here twice on their first missionary journey (Acts 13:13-14 EU and 14:25 EU). From there they moved north (Pisidia) or east (Iconium). During the following centuries, Mary was particularly revered in Perge. In Byzantine times it was the seat of a bishop who was also the metropolitan of the ecclesiastical province. Today Perge is only a titular diocese of the Roman Catholic Church. A large garrison was established here under the Seljuks (from around 1400?).



Perge is the birthplace of the mathematician Apollonios von Perge.