Ancient Aegean city, Ottoman birthplace inscribed on World Heritage list
İZMİR/BURSABergama, the site of a world-famous ancient city in the Aegean province of İzmir, and the Cumalıkazık village in northwestern Bursa, have both welcomed a UNESCO decision putting the two spots on the prestigious World Heritage List.
Bergama Mayor Mehmet Gönenç on June 23 thanked everyone who contributed to the title process, recalling that the town’s entry to the list had been approved by all 21 members of the UNESCO committee.
“Bergama represents many archaeological remains dating back to Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman periods, as well as prehistory,” UNESCO states on its website.
After the Persian and Lydian reign, the city came under the sway of Alexander the Great in 333 BC and became one of the outstanding trading and cultural centers of the Hellenistic period since 283 B.C. “During the rule of Eumenes II [197-159 BC] the Pergamon acropolis was adorned with the finest buildings, whereas the city became one of the most important centers of culture, architecture and sculptures in the Hellenistic World,” the website also reads.
The city continued to be an important center in Roman times, as it was the center of the diocese during Byzantine times.
The most remarkable monuments of the site are undoubtedly the Asklepion, located in the southwest of the town of Bergama; the Acropol or “upper city” situated on a hill of 300 meters, a middle city or “Roman city,” the Temple of Serapis (Red Courtyard) dated back to the 2nd A.D and the historic fabric with an organic form, including Turkish-Islamic art like mosques, madrasas, khans, bazaars and baths with many traditional houses.
The Acropolis is the site where the settlement first began in Pergamon. The main structures located in the Acropolis are the Temple of Athena, Temple of Dionysos, Temple of Agora, Zeus Altar, theatre for with a 10,000-capacity for audiences, library, heroon, palaces, arsenals, upper agora, stoas, propylon and the remains of some Hellenistic houses.
Asklepion, which was the healing center of the ancient time, signifies the term of the Place of Asklepios, who is one of Apollon’s sons and is the God of healing and medicine. According to the ancient historian Pausanias, Pergamum Asklepion was built in the first half of 4th BC in a place called Ayvazali today and operated until the 4th AD. It was also stated by the ancient historians that the healing cult was brought to Pergamum in the mid of 5th BC by Arkhias, who is the son of Aristakhminos from Pergamum.
Suggestion therapy, hydrotherapy and physical therapy, different methods of which are still used today, were applied to patients in Asklepion.
“It’s known that there were approximately 200 Asklepions in ancient times, however, when we compare the well-known Asklepions like Kos, Pelephones and Corinth, Pergamon Asklepion is one of the biggest and well preserved ones,” UNESCO said. “The round planned temples and library can’t be found in the other ones. The existence of this library suggests this place may be an academic institution, which separates it from the other Asklepions as well.
Bursa enjoys Cumalıkazık's 'Ottoman birthplace' title
The village of Cumalıkazık in Bursa has also been included on the list, as it is the birthplace of the Ottoman Empire.
Bursa Mayor Recep Altepe said his city had been struggling for the title since the early 2000s.
“The site illustrates the creation of an urban and rural system establishing the Ottoman Empire in the early 14th century,” UNESCO says in a separate article on its website.
“The property illustrates key functions of the social and economic organization of the new capital, which evolved around a new civic center. These include commercial districts of khans, kulliyes (religious institutions) integrating mosques, religious schools, public baths and a kitchen for the poor, as well as the tomb of Orhan Ghazi, the founder of the Ottoman dynasty. One component outside the historic center of Bursa is the village of Cumalıkızık, the only rural village of this system to show the provision of hinterland support for the capital,” it adds.