The ruins of the ancient city of Perge are 18 kms, to the northeast of Antalya, near the present day Aksu Teachers’ Training College. Owing to the fact that it was situated at the junction of many roads crossing the Paphylian plain, linked with the then navigable River Kestos (Aksu( by a 7 kms-long road, and far enough from the sea to be safe trom the attacks of pirates, Perge was destined for early development among the cities of Pamphylia.
Archaic Greek elements and personal names found in Perge Inscriptions indicate that the Greeks from Argos played a leading part among the Greek colonists who settled there, Perge was famous for the men of learning that it has produced. Appolonius of Perge, who is known as «Pergamoss after his birth place, was the author of nine volumes on conic sections. The work was translated into Arabic during the Abbasid Dynasty, and this Arabic version in eight volumes is now in the British Museum,
One can reach the ruins by turning left past the Aksu Teachers’ Training College, and its large square with lime trees all round. The nucleus of the city is believed to have been established at the Acropolis which is a large platform 50 meters in height. Growing gradually the city began to spread from the Acropolis towards the plain in the south, and was enclosed, during the Greek period, by a wall of 500 X 600 metres. Under Roman rule Perge grew, like the neighbouring cities, and spread beyond its walls, but under the threat of invasion during the Byzantine period, it shrunk back to its wails, where it awaited its doom.
Almost all large armies entering Pamphylia during the Greek ond Roman periods passed through Perge. It was in Perge that- St. Paul, who had come from Cyprus, preached for the first time, and succeeded in converting people to Christianity. Following the destruction of pagan temples during the early period of Christianity, Perge assumed the role of a spiritual center for the new faith. Among the remains of that period, the wails of the large basilica, built In memory of St. Paul, can be mentioned, Although In a state of complete ruin, one can form an idea of the magnificent proportions of this building. There is nothing left worth seeing on the Acropolis, but in the city on the plain are wide porticoed streets, lined with many fine public buildings, market places, gymnasiums and other edifices. With all this architectural and archaeological wealth, Perge is one of the most Interesting of ancient cities,
RUINS OF PERGE
The Walls: The city is enclosed by walls 2 meters wide and 13 metres high ,a great part of which were built during the Hellenistic period. These walls were constructed, like the Attalus walls of Per-gamum, of regularly cut dressed limestone blocks. About thirty towers, showing a fine stone workmanship, rise above them. The top floors of these towers have rooms with one window each, and are covered by wooden roofs.
Tile Main Streets: A wide street runs over a distance of 1 km from the slopes of the Acropolis to the Stadium and the Theater. This Street is cut, near the Acropolis, by a second one running from the east towards the west. These two streets are the main streets of Perge. Like the Arcadiana of Ephesus, they were lined with porticoed galleries to provide shade against the sun and shelter against the rain. Water-canals made of thick flat slabs of stone ran along the middle of these streets, which were 9 metres wide.
The Gymnasium: One can see a large group of buildings around a courtyard with double – stage porticoed galleries on the moln street extending from the east to the city gymnasium, where young men trained their bodies. Provided with running water, this gymnasium was built by Cornutus, a wealthy citizen of Perge, in honour of the Emperor Claudius.
The Bath: A large buiiaing consisting of hails covered with arches made of regularly shaped stone blocks, stands to the west of the Gymnasium. This is probably a late Roman period bath.
The Agora: To the east of the main street running from the north to the south, there is the market place (Agora), with o round porticoed building in the middle. Some of the shops ore still standing In fairly good condition.
The Theater : The Theater, which is the largest building in Perge (seating capacity 70,000), rises on the slopes of the hill to the west f of the city, A road from the main city gate feads to the Theater. This theater, like all theaters of the Classical Age, consist of the following three ports:
1. Semicircular spectators’ stands on the hill.
2.The round orchestra facing the stands,
3.The stage building.
The first part, that is the spectators’ stands, which consist of 50 tiers, are divided into two by a passage running oil the way round. This passage provided a promenade during intervals. At the top of the stands are galleries where spectators could take shelter in rainy weather. The tiers of stands are cut by radial stairs. The stage building which Is believed to have been decorated with a multi-stage columnar structure, was fortified by a supporting wall at a very early time. Nothing remains of the richly ornamented marble facade of the stage building.
The Stadium: The Stadium, which is the best preserved in all Pamphylia, is situated on the flat ground In front of the Theatre.The building consists of two main ports: 1) the race course of 34 x 234 metres, and 2) tiers of stone seats surrounding the upper part of the course. There are 17 tiers resting on 25 arches, providing Seating for 27.000 people. The rooms under the arches were used for tying horses before performances.
The Gates: The city’s three main gates were in the east, west and south. The Southern Gate arid the adjoining walls were built of unhomogeneous materials (bricks In between dressed stone blocks) implying IVth century workmanship. Going through this gate, one Is faced with two impressive towers, and the gate In between them is the original Hellenistic gate of the city. After the adjoining walls had partly been desroyed by the Romans, the gate ceased to have any role in the city’s defence. Behind the gate Is an oval courtyard, and a three – sectioned triumphal arch. Many rooms were built in the walls of the oval courtyard between 117 and 121 A.D. In the niches of the triumphal arch are statues of deities and mythological heroes. During the age of Pax Romana this place was used for ceremonial purposes. Statues found here by Prof. A.M. Manse! during 1953-54 are now In the Aksu Teachers’ Training College. These can be seen by the permission of the College Director.
The Cemeteries: As can be judged from Its extensive ruins, Perge grew very rapidly during the llnd century A.D. Parallel with this growth, the city was surrounded with very large cemeteries displaying a variety of graves from simple pits, to burial chambers and mausoleums